Chairman's Report for FoBRA Meeting 24th Mar 15
Bath Transport Strategy
Further to this, the Council Leader, Cllr Paul Crossley, wrote to both the B&NES MPs on 21st Jan 15, quoting a motion passed by the full Council last July, in which he drew attention to Bath's serious traffic and pollution problems, and sought transfer of various powers from the police to B&NES Council, such as the right to investigate and prosecute Moving Traffic Offences (currently, only London Councils can do this). If this were to be granted, for example, action against HGVs driving through George Street and Queen Square could be taken; infringements which the police largely ignore. I wrote to Don Foster MP on 7th Feb 15, on behalf of FoBRA, supporting the Council's move (posted on our website).
Upstream Flooding Risk
I wrote in my last Report that the Planning, Transport and Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel would be holding a debate on the Upstream Flooding Risk early in the New Year. It is becoming clear that this will not now happen until after the Council elections, but we shall not allow it to be forgotten!
Local Flood Representatives
The Secretary forwarded a Council note to all on 6th Mar 15 about Local Flood Representatives, describing what these were intended to do, and asking for nominees by 30th Apr 15. I propose that Ian Herve (Henrietta, and a volunteer) investigates this further, on our behalf, in particular to discover whether one Representative is expected from FoBRA and its members, or several.
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
I have written before about the development of CIL, as an alternative to Section 106 Agreements, and the rate at which it is to be charged. Following Examination in Public, this was approved by the Council on 17th Feb 15, and will come into force on 6th Apr 15.
'Your Care, Your Way'
The Clinical Commissioning Group and the Council in B&NES are consulting about their project 'Your care, your way', which aims to deliver truly integrated health and care services for healthier and more independent lives. Useful background information is available at:
Any member interested in taking part please contact the Secretary.
Police Independent Advisory Group (IAG)
I have agreed, on FoBRA's behalf, to join a new body in Bath, the Police IAG. Groups like this are being established all over the country, apparently, in response to charges that the Police are out of touch with the public. Their intention is to act as a "critical friend". I shall let you know how it progresses.
The Vice Chairman and I held a routine meeting with the senior Police officer in Bath, CI Norman Pascal, on 19th Mar 15. We discussed the future of Bath policing, homeless people, Neighbourhood Watch, river safety, the deaths in Lansdown Lane, and the effectiveness of the new ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
Bath City Conference
This year's Bath City Conference will take place in the Guildhall on Friday 10th July 15, from 1200 noon to 1800, with the usual mixture of trade fair, information booths, and debates. This should be an ideal way to meet and question the new Council administration, so stick the date in your diary.
Chamber of Commerce Meeting
The Vice Chairman and I held a routine meeting with the Chief Executive of the Bath Chamber of Commerce, Ian Bell, on 17th Mar 15. This confirmed that many of their views are similar to those of FoBRA, but he stressed (a) the need for B&NES to support the Joint Strategic Planning Authority (4 Councils - Bristol, N.Somerset, B&NES and S.Glos).as this is where much Govt funding is being channelled, and (b) that, in a battle between city centre parking and modern office space, the Chamber opts for the latter, in the near future.
The Vice Chairman and I met Lisa Bartlett, Divisional Director of Development, and Simon De Beer, Head of Planning Policy, on 6th Feb 15 to discuss FoBRA's comments on the Placemaking Plan (now available on our website) and the way forward for this important document. She noted and discussed all our major recommendations (see previous Chairman's Report).
We shared our comments with the Bath Preservation Trust. It is noteworthy that they have followed us in calling for (a) a policy for central Bath as a place, and (b) the Bath Transport Strategy to be reflected in the Placemaking Plan. 3
There cannot be anyone who does not know about, and admire, the Footprint Project to upgrade the Abbey. The Vice Chairman and I were asked by the heritage consultancy Lemon Drizzle to take part in an interview about how FoBRA and its members would impact with the project.
Local Green Space Designation
The Secretary circulated information from the Council on designation of Local Green Spaces on 21st Jan 15. Several members have taken this further and have designated green spaces near them, in some cases including public parks. The deadline for doing this has now passed, but it will be interesting to hear if anything comes of this effort.
Rossiter Road Project
At the request of the Widcombe Association (WA), I wrote on 16th Mar 15 to the Council Leader, and to his Cabinet Member for Transport, about endless delays in the Rossiter Road scheme, poor project management and consequent effect on the residents, traders, and the whole community there. I asked them to tell me what has gone wrong, what they are doing to rectify this, and how the people who live and work there are to be placated or compensated. I received a prompt reply that a report is in preparation, so WA and I hope to be able to share this with you by the date of the FoBRA Committee.
Representatives may remember meetings about the refurbishment of Sydney Gardens and possible linkage with the grounds of the Holburne Museum which took place last April, but which ended inconclusively, due partly to the failure of an HLF grant application by the Council. A new approach has been pioneered, with the inaugural meeting of the "Sydney Gardens Steering Group" in Jan 15, and some new money found by the Council for initial work on the gardens (£250K). Colin Clark is attending the Steering Group meetings on behalf of FoBRA, and will report.
Burlington Street Wall
I last wrote about this in my 4th Nov Report. St Mary's Church have now received the report from consultants, Jones Lang, recommending redevelopment of part or all of the car park site for housing, which would, inter alia, solve the wall problem. They have now submitted this to their diocesan authorities for approval before acting.
Hope House Site
The developers, Square Bay, are still addressing Planning Conditions, and so have not yet started the 58 homes for which they now have full planning 4
permission, following their Appeal which was recently allowed. Alternatively, they have confirmed that they may sell the site to another developer, with the planning permission.
National Organization of Residents' Associations (NORA)
I attended the NORA AGM on 12th Mar 15. There was no political speaker because of the proximity of the General Election, so some time was spent discussing NORA's structure and role. I accepted the task of leading a working group to redefine the job of the Chairman and find a successor to saintly Alan Shrank, the current incumbent. Other subjects covered included: subscription rates, priorities, HMO Art 4 Direction and the banning of estate agents' "To Let" boards, expanding universities, Local Government finance, householder appeals, housing pressures and the Green Belt, noise nuisance, and moving traffic offences.
Entertainment Licensing Deregulation
Representatives will remember the note about this in my last Report. It seems that all our and NORA's efforts to curb this legislation have been ignored, and that it will become law from April. Standby for complaints about amplified noise, principally about noisy pubs! I fear that, in these cases, the new ASB legislation will not help.
Consultation on Amplified Busking near the Abbey
On the related subject of a ban on amplified busking around the Abbey, about which the Council is presently consulting (Following complaints about recent disturbance of Evensong Services there). The consultation runs until 29th March and details can be found at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/consultations/196642/webform .2, TARA has been helpful, pointing out that B&NES receives large numbers of complaints about amplified music, of which only a few are about buskers or relate to the areas mentioned in this consultation. The Council held a workshop on this at BRLSI on 25th Feb. Unfortunately I was unable to attend this, but I have written to the organisers to question the subsequently published notes; in particular their balance between the busking community's views, and those of established commercial and cultural activities in the city centre, through lack of recognition of the disturbance and nuisance which the buskers cause by amplification of their efforts.
FoBRA Elections 12th May 15 – Treasurer Needed!
At the AGM on 12th May, I shall be seeking another year as your Chairman, and Nick Tobin will similarly be standing again as Vice Chairman. Joy Bowker has decided not to seek a further term as Examiner of Accounts, after three years of faithful service, as she will be standing down from the Chairmanship of MLBRA. John Rushton (Sydney Buildings) has offered himself for election in her place. Next, Stephen Little is coming to the end of his six years as Treasurer, for which I thank him enormously, and so we need a replacement. I therefore ask everyone to think deeply whether they might be able to 5
volunteer, as FoBRA cannot operate without a Treasurer. That said, it is not an over-arduous task: anyone interested can call him on 01225 310180, to confirm this. Nominations for election close on 31st Mar 15, and any member's member can be proposed for these elective posts. Lastly, as for Secretary, Barry Henderson is happy to continue with this for the moment, for which we should all be deeply grateful: it is not an elective office.
Two Bath groups which may be forming Residents' Associations have been in touch with me about possibly applying to join FoBRA – one in Oldfield Park and the other in Weston – and I have encouraged them. I have also received a request from a new Association, Batheaston Forward, to join, but have had to explain that our Constitution precludes their full membership – maybe Affiliates though?
Council Election Presentations
We are having our usual programme of presentations by party group leaders prior to the Council elections in May (Lib Dem, Conservative and Labour). I was approached by a candidate for the Green Party in February to be allowed to speak to a FoBRA meeting. Having consulted the rest of the Executive, I have refused, with regret, as (a) the request was very late, (b) there are no remaining meeting spots, (c) there are no Green Party Councillors at the moment and (d) the candidates have no leader as such.
Thank you from me and the Treasurer to those who responded to the plea in my last Report about prompt payment of subscriptions. Please may we hope it is even more prompt next year? The Treasurer will be making a proposal at the AGM about the subscription rate for the following year, when he will be suggesting, I understand, a small reduction.
Robin Kerr, 20th Mar 15
Chairman's Report 23 Feb 17Chairman’s Report for FoBRA Committee 23rd Feb 17 Leader Meeting 13th Jan 17 Nick and I held another meeting with the Council Leader, Cllr Tim Warren, on 13th Jan. It was also attended by Cabinet members Patrick Anketell-Jones and Martin Veal. We covered the following subjects: 1. Usefulness of these “Leader meetings”. 2. Bath Transport Strategy & Alliance for Transport and the Public Realm, including: a. Alliance presentation 22nd Nov 16 b. Eastern Park and Ride (Cabinet meeting 25th Jan) c. Air Quality (Kerr/Warren letter dated 15th Dec) d. FoBRA letter in Chronicle 22nd Dec on Better Freight delivery. e. FoBRA’s responses to the WoE spatial and transport consultations. f. Council Parking survey. g. City centre visitor permits for hotels, etc., 3. Refuse policy (on agenda for BCF priority setting meeting 12th Jan) 4. Outcomes from Placemaking Plan Examination in Public: a. Student Housing b. Upstream flooding risk 5. Planning a. Upper Oldfield Park. b. “Party Houses”, and FoBRA’s role in campaign. c. Curo’s outline planning application for Foxhill Estate (and FoBRA’s objection and 22nd Dec letter in Chronicle). d. Use of brownfield city sites for housing, rather than students. 6. FoBRA winter reception 17th Jan 17 I shall be happy to expand on any of these subjects at the Committee meeting. National Organization of Residents’ Associations (NORA) Neighbourhood Planning Members will remember that I wrote in my last Report about the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, and the disturbing news of the overthrow of, or challenge to, adopted Neighbourhood Plans in several parts of the country. This will be a principal subject on the agenda of the NORA AGM, to take place on 2nd March, where we shall be represented by our Secretary, Barry Henderson. The guest speaker will be Michael Salmon, Head of Neighbourhood Planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government. Housing White Paper The Government (DCLG) has published for consultation its White paper on Housing, proposing far-reaching changes to the planning system and housing funding. The link to find it is: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/590043/Fixing_our_broken_housing_market_-_housing_white_paper.pdf . It's a weighty tome, at 104 pages, but it’s important, and there’s a good Executive Summary. Its treatment by the Press so far hasn’t been ecstatic, but it's a major step away from the current appalling housing situation. For example, I have noted the following statement: "For housing associations and other not-for-profit developers, the Government has already announced funding worth a total of £7.1 billion through an expanded and more flexible Affordable Homes Programme. We will provide clarity over future rent levels. In return, we expect them to build significantly more affordable homes over the current Parliament." so we shall be quizzing Curo about this, as they have always claimed that there are no longer any subsidies. FoBRA’s Planning Sub Committee will be studying it and recommending comments to members and to NORA before the 2nd May deadline. Placemaking Plan Members will have seen the comments which FoBRA has made to the Council’s proposals for Main Modifications to the Placemaking Plan, following the Inspector’s conclusions – mainly on Parking and Student Housing. These have now been posted on our website and a meeting has been sought with Officers to hear their reaction to suggestions for amendment. Combined Authority Mayoral Election 4th May The candidates have been chosen for the West of England Combined Authority Mayoral Election, which will take place on 4th May. They are: • Conservative Party: Tim Bowles, South Gloucestershire councillor • Labour Party: Lesley Mansell, NHS manager, Westfield parish councillor and former Peasedown St John parish councillor. • Liberal Democrats: Stephen Williams, former MP for Bristol West and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. • Green Party: Darren Hall, former Parliamentary candidate in Bristol West. I should be interested to know if you would like me to try to arrange an extra Committee meeting at which we would ask them to come and introduce themselves to us. Council Refuse Policy Further to Rachael’s report on Refuse Policy in Nov 16 (see minutes), the Council issued new instructions to households on 2nd Feb (attached below), so the great roll-out of wheelie bins or gull-sacks seems to be going ahead from 6th Nov. As Rachael points out, this could be disastrous for flatted, Georgian terraces, particularly if accompanied by a shift from weekly to fortnightly black-bag collections. All is not necessarily lost on that front, however, as the Council’s ‘recycle’ webpage, says: “There may be areas in central Bath that are not suitable for every other week collections of rubbish and the Council is working with Ward Councillors, Residents’ Associations and other groups to come up with the right solution”. The Bath City Forum (BCF) was briefed on this by Cllr Martin Veal (Cabinet Member for Community Services) on 2nd Feb, and the BCF’s Environment Group, which I co-chair, with Cllr Dine Romero (LibDem Group Leader), is entering discussions with him, not only to ensure weekly collections remain (in those vulnerable streets), but also greatly to improve their cleanliness and discipline. This has been discussed with the BCF Chairman too. Flooding Risk above Churchill Bridge The present arrangement (whereby 105 homes which happen to lie between Churchill and Midland Bridges are getting flood protection through the Bath Quays Waterside Project, but ~2000 homes further upstream (but still within Bath) are not, is grossly unfair. There have been two meetings of the Abbey Ward Flood Group since my briefing of the last Committee on this Flooding Risk (see minutes). Despite high level representation at it, no solution has been offered by the Council or the Environment Agency, so Cllr Romero (see above) has agreed with me that this should be taken up by the BCF’s Environment Group, and I have discussed it with the BCF Chairman. Without letting the Council off the hook, solutions are not thick on the ground and the costs are very high. Police Independent Advisory Group (IAG) I serve on the Police IAG, and have attended two of its meetings since my last report, the second of which was attended by Sue Mountstevens, our Police and Crime Commissioner. We discussed: conclusions from the closure of the Manvers Police Station; rough sleepers; public lavatories; the recent large drugs operation in Bath; hate crime; and use of Tasers. I can expand on these items at the Committee meeting if members wish. Modern Tram and Cable Car Systems for Bath? As members may know, separate groups are advocating a cable car connecting Foxhill to the city centre, and reintroduction of trams, both of them as part of a modern transport mix here. Patrick will expand on these at the Committee meeting. World Heritage Site Steering Group Nick has been our representative on the World Heritage Site Steering Group since he became our Vice Chairman, and, during that time, Peter Metcalfe has chaired the Group. Peter has now come to the end of his period of office, and the Council is advertising for a replacement. If anyone is interested, please speak to our Secretary, Barry Henderson. Sydney Gardens Upgrade The team which manages Sydney Gardens (B&NES, the Friends of Sydney Gardens, local Residents’ Associations and the Holburne Museum) has successfully bid for a £332K grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of a £3.6M refurbishment. Buses in Upper Oldfield Park Members will remember an impassioned plea at the November Committee from the representatives of Upper Oldfield Park RA, as they sought to join FoBRA, for help in persuading the Authorities to divert double decker buses away from their street, as they were causing great congestion. You will be glad to hear that their campaign has been successful, aided to a small extent by FoBRA. Streetlife Members may be familiar with Streetlife, the internet based UK local community networks. There are at least seven such groupings in Bath. They aim to help people make connections with their neighbours, to share local news, recommendations and resources. Earlier this month Streetlife was acquired by its US equivalent, Nextdoor, and so this will be its name from now on. The web link at the time of writing is www.streetlife.com/Bath Shrub Attack? One of our members tells me that shrubs in our parks and green spaces are being chopped to the ground and many trees seem to be cut down at random. This has been carried out on the banks below Camden Crescent; despite the trees having been planted there to stop soil erosion. The shrubs absorb traffic fumes, reduce traffic noise and provide food and cover for wildlife, including birds. They also look attractive! This is happening in Hedgemead Park, the Botanic Gardens in Victoria Park, and Sydney Gardens too. Robin Kerr, draft 2, 20th Feb 17 Changes to your rubbish collection service from 6 November 2017 What is changing? Most households across Bath and North East Somerset will be changing to every other week collection for their rubbish from 6 November. We will be providing a 140 litre wheeled bin for the storage and collection of rubbish. We realise that one size does not fit all, so in a small number of cases where a 140 litre wheeled bin is not suitable for your property, or family situation, we may provide a larger bin or a re-useable rubbish bag to contain rubbish for collection. Recycling collections, including food waste will remain weekly and our emphasis will be on encouraging you to use this weekly service to its full potential. Over 70%of UK councils including all our neighbours in Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset, Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire, are already running every other week collections for rubbish (in wheeled bins) and weekly recycling collections. They are seeing the benefits including reduced street mess, cost efficiencies and collecting more recycling (instead of rubbish). Collection days and times may change as we will need to redesign the routes so that they are as efficient as possible. Look out for your letter in March From 9-13 March all households will be sent a personalised letter informing them how the changes will affect them. To reduce postage costs, most letters will be included in the envelope with your Council Tax Bill. This letter will let you know whether we have allocated your property a wheeled bin or re-useable rubbish bag for rubbish collection, and the frequency of your rubbish collection. The letter is for information and no response is needed. If you are concerned that the container we have allocated is not appropriate for your specific property, or if despite recycling all you can, you feel that your household will not manage with the allocated container you can complete an online query form. We will write separately to residents who • live in a registered House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) • are currently registered for an Assisted Collection (those who require the help of our crews to carry their rubbish and/or recycling to an agreed collection point). You will be asked to complete a form to update your details to re-apply for an assisted collection if you still need help. For some residents wheeled bins will be much easier to manage. Why are we introducing the changes? 1. To keep our streets cleaner Containing rubbish in a bin or bag will prevent animals and birds ripping open bags and making a mess which is unpleasant for everyone and costs us to clear up. 2. To recycle more We have a very comprehensive recycling collection where you can already recycle 17 different types of household waste every week. We know that some residents can recycle more than they are currently doing – about 75% of a household’s waste can be recycled using the current collections, but we still find that over half of an average rubbish bag consists of items that could have been recycled. Our local research shows that if you recycle all you can you will still have space left in your rubbish bin when collected every other week. The change will help to encourage everyone to use their food recycling collection – only about 50% of households currently use this. About a third of the waste in black sacks currently is food. 3. To save money Every lorry load of waste costs £1000 to dispose of whilst every lorry load of recycling earns an income of £100, so reducing the amount put out as rubbish is essential. Find out more www.bathnes.gov.uk/recycle Our website is being updated as details are confirmed and more FAQs added so please check back here www.bathnes.gov.uk/recycle for updates. • Like our facebook page www.facebook.com/recyleforbathnes to receive updates and tips to recycle more. • Get ready for the change – you can order extra free recycling containers online www.bathnes.gov.uk/orderacontainer • View the bins and re-useable rubbish bags and get advice and tips from our Waste Campaigns Team to help you recycle all you can to get ready for the change at our community roadshows www.bathnes.gov.uk/roadshows • Book a free talk for your community group - contact email@example.com to show you how to make the best use of the recycling service, including practical tips to help your get ready for the change. • We need residents to star in our social media campaign to to encourage others to recycle more. We want your stories, photos, videos and recycling tips to share with others and are keen to hear from individuals and groups – including schools, families, housemates, work groups – how do you do it in your home/school/workplace? Find out more http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/bins-rubbish-and-recycling/recycling-and-rubbish-collections/latest-recycling-updates
Chairman's Report 15th Nov 2016
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Chairman's Report 13 July 16
Chairman's AGM Report 17th May 16
Chairman's Report 17th May 16
Chairman's Report 7th April 2016
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12th November 2015
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Chairman's Report 30 July 15
AGM Report May 15
Chairman's Report - Mar 15
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Chairman's Report Nov 2014
Chairman's Report Sept 2014
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Chairman's Report November 2013
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