I met (virtually) the Council Leader (Cllr Dine Romero) and Cabinet Members Tim Ball (Planning and Housing), Joanna Wright (Transport - shared) and Neil Butters (Transport – shared) on 13th May as part of our regular series. The following subjects were discussed: Covid-19; Climate Emergency; Transport (Cleveland Bridge, CAZ, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Parking Policy, Social distancing in the city centre, and Stakeholder engagement in the new Transport Board); Housing (Short Term Letting, Student Housing); Rec/Stadium (Car park, temporary east stand); and FoBRA leadership changes.
Police Independent Advisory Group (IAG):
I was part of the IAG that met (virtually) on 13th May. PCC elections have been deferred by a year. We discussed:
• Progress on the new Bath police station, which is slow, as the planning application has not even been submitted.
• Adaptation of the city roads in the light of Covid-19 precautions, and the worries which introduction of e-scooters may cause.
• Crime statistics, which are generally down (by about 10%, though domestic violence has increased).
Climate Conversations with Cabinet Member, Cllr Sarah Warren:
These replace the Climate Emergency seminar which was to have taken place on 9th April. They got off to a slow start on 30th April, due to technical difficulties, but on 14th May the 'conversationalist' was Laura Montgomery, founder of Bath Share and Repair, with 5 locations in the city, and another 9 across the rest of B&NES.
Executive Meeting 27th April:
As Kirstie reported by email, the FoBRA Executive met (virtually), and agreed:
• To co-opt onto the Executive the two declared candidates for the posts of Chairman and Vice Chairman, Justin Draeger and Graham Feltham respectively (they both attended this Executive meeting).
• Formally to give the Treasurer the authority to ask FoBRA members and affiliates for their 2020-21 subscriptions and on the same levels as before.
• In the absence of the 26th May Committee, to issue the reports which are normally provided (Chairman's, Planning, Transport and Housing).
• To issue the Treasurer's annual accounts, certified by the Examiner (John Rushton), at the same time.
• To plan to hold another Executive meeting mid-summer.
• To plan to hold the AGM in the latter part of the year, whether physically or virtually (and to hold a Committee meeting virtually before the AGM if the need arises).
• To donate £500 from FoBRA reserves to the Bath Preservation Trust in response to the Trust's 15th April Covid-19 appeal (circulated to members on 16th April) and in particular recognition of its vital work on city planning scrutiny.
There have been many worthy causes deserving of our charity in the last few weeks (the Bath Preservation Trust being one of them – see above), but Bath Festivals is surely high on the list, having lost nearly all its funding stream this year. Please see the #BackBathFestivals campaign as explained in the crowdfunder page at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/back-bath-festivals, and support this in any way you can. The target is to raise £50,000 by the end of what would have been the 2020 Festival.
As you know, it is largely your own members who are operating the Compassionate Community's response to the Covid-19 emergency in the city, bringing together 3rd Sector Group, Council, Virgincare, the Clinical Commissioning Group, Bath Mind and Citizens' Advice. The latest update shows that 4428 calls have been made to the Hub, and 972 tasks have been completed, ranging from food shopping (458), to collection of medication (454) and simple befriending (60). Well done everyone!
The Council has called on residents to consider their own health and that of their neighbours by not having bonfires where possible during the Coronavirus pandemic (notwithstanding the closure of recycling centres).
Cycle Bath, one of our longstanding affiliate members, has changed its name to 'Walk Ride Bath', to reflect its greater policy reach, and the heightened importance of walking and pedestrians, alongside cycling. Contact details remain unchanged.
World Heritage Enhancement Fund:
The latest Bath World Heritage Enhancement Fund newsletter can be seen at: https://www.bathworldheritage.org.uk/enhancement-fund . It's fascinating, and rather colourful!
Student Housing Rents:
You will all have seen the heartfelt letter issued by Megan and Alisha on behalf of our two student unions (both FoBRA affiliate members for many years), and countersigned by both Vice Chancellors, asking for leniency and understanding by student housing landlords over rent arrears during the Covid-19 emergency. If you or any of your members is in the position of such a landlord, please give this some thought.
Council Webinar on Covid-19 Response and Recovery:
This will take place on 22nd May.
Burlington Street Broken Wall:
I have not mentioned this disgraceful example of non-conservation for some years, but I am glad now to be able to report that there are rumblings of change by the owner, St Mary's church, Julian Road.
At the 21st Jan Committee we discussed our contribution to the Climate Emergency, and I mentioned that my wife and I had applied for Listed Building consent to fit double glazing in the dormers of our house. This has now been granted, and I would be happy to share our experience with any member interested.
Robin Kerr, Chairman, final dated 15th May