Nick and I are due to meet with Cllr Dine Romero, the Council Leader, and selected Cabinet members on 3rd March as part of our regular series. I shall brief you about this at the Committee on 10th March.
Bath City Forum (BCF):
The BCF continues to remain suspended, and there have been no further meetings of the Involve Bath group, which continues to worry, so I can only refer you to the notes in my last two reports. One has to speculate whether this Council is serious about addressing Bath's democratic deficit: we are raising this with Cllr Romero on 3rd March.
However, one of the tasks of the BCF which cannot be deferred is the discussion of applications for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) awards. The CIL sub-committee, on which I serve, met on 2nd March and discussed the following applications:
• Youth Service Provision
• Floodlights for Combe Down Rugby.
National Organization of Residents' Associations (NORA):
Following its unsuccessful meeting with MHCLG Officials in January (see minutes of the last Committee), NORA wrote to the new Minister of Housing, Christopher Pincher MP, on 14th Feb, about the pressing need for regulation of Short Term Letting (STL): see our website. This has been copied to Wera Hobhouse MP with a view to her seeking a meeting for us with the Minister. In the near future, meetings with the self-catering associations have been arranged on this subject, and Patrick Rotheram is going to represent FoBRA and NORA at Airbnb's roadshow about registration in Bristol on 6th March. He will brief us about this. Lastly, on 20th Feb ITV screened a good programme on STL, half of which featured Bath.
I remind you that the NORA AGM will be held on Friday 29th May, in London. I hope that all its new members from Bath will attend!
Housing Position Paper:
This has now been posted on our website, incorporating comments made.
Police Independent Advisory Group (IAG):
The IAG last met on 26th Feb, when we discussed: the 'Prevent' programme; homelessness (including the current 'squat' in Upper Borough Walls); delays with the Lansdown drugs bust; the new police station in Manvers street; enforcement of the 18t limit on Cleveland Bridge; the PCC elections; and crime statistics (3.8% increase in B&NES, but lower than the figure for the whole country).
Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Elections:
The election for a new PCC will take place on 7th May. Sue Mountstevens will not be seeking a third term. There are already two declared candidates:
Mark Shelford (Con) – the previous B&NES Cabinet member for Transport
John Smith (Ind) – the current Chief Executive in the PCC's office
and I understand candidates representing Lib Dems, Labour and the Greens are soon to be announced. In view of our long and honourable record for inviting democratic candidates for office to come and speak to us, it has been suggested that we should hold a PCC hustings in April, if we can find an acceptable date. I shall discuss this on 10th March.
Climate Emergency – Listed Property Insulation:
An update on the Listed Building Application for double glazing in the dormers of my house: the Conservation Officer has written that they are 'minded to support' the proposal, but we are haggling over the precise moulding to use for the glazing bars, and their thickness.
Public Liability Insurance:
Most Residents' Associations have Public Liability Insurance cover, even if they don't own property. Members are welcome to discuss this with our Treasurer.
Following discussion at our January Committee, a change to our Constitution to strengthen Inclusivity and Diversity is suggested – see Annex A. Let us discuss it on 10th March with a view to proposing it for ⅔ approval at the AGM in May.
Community Resilience Day – 19th March:
The Council and the Environment Agency are jointly holding a 'Community Resilience Day' on 19th March in the Guildhall, largely about flooding. Kirstie circulated details on 19th Feb. I shall be attending, with Ian Hervé.
Council's Corporate Strategy – Feedback:
We talked about this at the January Committee, after which I received several excellent suggestions for inclusion in our response to the Council's questionnaire on it. You can see the final result on our website (and I hope they take notice). Our comments revolved around: good practice in community involvement; the need for strategy to be reflected in planning regulations; the importance of parking policy as well as pollution control if congestion is to be addressed; availability of expertise in the city; the perils of a car park under the Rec; the need for a Transport Policy stakeholder review group; some kind of P&R facility to the east; a viable coach strategy; a Low Traffic Neighbourhood policy which addresses the effect they have on those living on routes chosen to be 'arterial'; electric car charging points; taking advantage of the Cleveland Bridge closure for traffic reduction and of the CAZ camera network for enforcement or road charging; social home need; democratic deficit; etc.... So much to do; so little progress yet!
'Push' Housing film:
The makers of a remarkable film about the worldwide housing unaffordability, called "Push", have recently been in touch with me and allowed me to preview the film. It follows Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, as she travels the globe, seeking facts and a solution: it is deeply moving and most important. There will be a public showing of the film at the Little Theatre in late March, coincident with some consciousness-raising events in the Bath area.
You will remember that we objected to the expansion of Bristol Airport (along with thousands of others) on 23rd Sept, on the grounds of increase in noisy night flights; and of the need to tackle environmental pollution, including a reduction of carbon aviation emissions, by 2030, in accordance with North Somerset Council's climate emergency declaration. You will be aware that this application has now been refused. One of our members (the Lansdown Crescent Association - LCA) wrote to our MP about this on 7th Feb, to reinforce this refusal, as there will likely be an appeal. FoBRA wrote to her as well, supporting LCA's letter, on 15th Feb.
Bath Preservation Trust's (BPT) Tower Appeal:
In their January Newsletter, BPT called for financial support for their Beckford Tower appeal as the recent generous grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund requires them to raise £60K themselves (now, and more match-funding will be needed later).
Robin Kerr, final, 2 March 20
Constitutional Change Proposal - Inclusivity and Diversity
The following change to our Constitution adopted 15th Nov 2016 to strengthen Inclusivity and Diversity is proposed. Suggested changes are shown in red.
2. Membership The Federation is open and inclusive, regardless of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic situation, religion, disability or age. Membership shall be open to autonomous residents' associations within the City:
a. Properly constituted with a......
8. Communications, Procedures and Financial Interests:
8e. In reaching decisions and in responding to local authority and other proposals, the Committee and office-holders shall use reasonable endeavours to act impartially on the merits of the case and to avoid religious or party political or any other bias.
[Note: Religion has been covered in the addition proposed to (2) above, so does not need to be repeated.]
Further note: It has been suggested that some mention should be made of help to aspirant members with the drafting of constitutions and accounts. Appropriate words have therefore been inserted on the website under "Members – Joining FoBRA", as it is not a Constitutional matter.
Robin Kerr, Chairman, draft 1, 25th Feb 20