Chairman's Report for FoBRA Committee 15th Nov 16
Members will be saddened to hear of the death of Gerald Chown on 21st Sept. Henry Brown has provided me with the following tribute:
"Gerald was chairman of the Macaulay Buildings & Prospect RA when I started going to FoBRA (c 2006) and I think must have been in that role for some time beforehand. He handed over before I left, so I guess he would have done the job for about 8-10 years. His roots were in Cornwall. He started his career in business, I think in the building products sector, was chairman of an NHS trust, and also served on the Council of the University of Bath.
"Within FoBRA he was quietly effective, never raising his voice, but always getting his point over in a patient and diplomatic manner. When we set up the FoBRA/B&NES initiative on street cleaning, Gerald was the perfect chairman: interested in all aspects of the work, friendly to everyone involved at all levels, on both sides, and by the end universally respected. The Council took quite a lot of persuading that one of us should take the lead, but welcomed the findings of the report. This was very largely due to Gerald's tact and savoir faire.
"He and his wife Ann lived in a lovely house on Widcombe Hill and took an interest in collecting antique clocks. Every hour discussion was interrupted by an absolute cacophony of chiming!
"Gerald was a great believer in FoBRA, and a huge support to me as incoming chairman. I'm sure his death will be mourned by everyone who knew him."
More recently, his Association asked him to resume the role of FoBRA representative at our meetings, so I was looking forward to rekindling our friendship and to his wise words, but sadly no more!
Meeting with Council Leader 19th Oct
Nick and I again met Cllr Tim Warren on 19th Oct. It was also attended by Cabinet members Tony Clarke, Patrick Anketell-Jones and Martin Veal. We covered the following subjects:
• Bath Transport Strategy & Alliance for Transport and the Public Realm, including: Eastern Park and Ride; City centre parking; City centre visitor permits for hotels; Air Quality.
• Refuse collection policy
• Placemaking Plan - Examination in Public
• Student Housing
• Upstream flooding risk
• Planning, including: Queen Square experiments; NORA and Space Standards for housing; Use of brownfield city sites for residential housing, rather than for students; change to LED lampposts in Listed streets.
• Curo visit to FoBRA, and FRA questionins.
• Bath City Forum.
I shall be happy to expand on any of these subjects at the Committee meeting.
National Organization of Residents' Associations (NORA)
Hot on the heels of my report on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, is disturbing news of the overthrow of, or challenge to, adopted Neighbourhood Plans in two parts of the country: Exeter and Henfield, Sussex. In the St James district of Exeter, the City Council decided to override the Neighbourhood Plan and permit a football stadium to be built. The St James Forum took it to judicial review, but lost, incurring significant costs. While in Henfield (near Horsham) a developer applied to the High Court to have their Plan overturned so that it could build 40 homes on a field (Sandgate Nurseries) to one side of the village, the judge finding that "there was insufficient information to show how the land at Sandgate Nurseries had been addressed in the preparation of the plan and that more detail was needed on how built-up area boundaries had been considered". These two examples appear to undermine a pillar of the Localism Act (2011), and are certain (a) to dishearten communities trying to develop their neighbourhood in the way they want, and often to save beautiful places, and (b) to dissuade them from going through the significant toil of plan preparation, referendum, etc. Over 250 of these plans have already been adopted, and 2000 more are in progress, so, one might ask, what's the point? NORA has raised these examples with the Department, and has received a rather pusillanimous reply from the Official in charge of Neighbourhood Planning.
The Government is consulting on a tightening of the policy for control of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation), deadline being 13th Dec. Its proposals are very much along the lines that residents would approve of, with two interesting aspects: (a) the first appearance of compulsory space standards (something for which FoBRA and NORA have long been campaigning), but (b) no progress yet over imposing penalties on unscrupulous landlords, for breach of licensing or overcrowding, until the breach has been declared a crime, by which time huge profits have been made, much greater than any fine imposed. I shall be attending a Council seminar on student housing and HMOs on 14th Nov, so I can report further at our Committee the next day.
Patrick Rotheram will update us on the air pollution situation, and the Council's associated policies. Members will wish to know that I have written, on your behalf to our MP about this, and you can find this letter on our website (under 'Papers' http://www.bathresidents.org.uk/papers.php ), together with the latest Air Quality figures, published by the Council.
WoE Joint Plans
FoBRA's Executive and subject leads have spent much time already on the West of England's Joint Spatial and Transport Plans. I refer members to the minutes of our 13th July meeting and to the response made by FoBRA then. Those plans have been maturing, and another consultation is running from 7th Nov to 19th Dec to which we are all encouraged to contribute. Latest details are at www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk . This next step is to seek feedback on outline proposals that address the following priorities:
• Respond to the housing shortage – both now and in the future, building on feedback from the first consultation, ensuring we can house future generations in their region
• Invest in new infrastructure – to support increased demand from growing communities such as integrating housing and employment with transport to reduce the length and numbers of journeys to work
• Support economic growth and improve levels of prosperity – creating new jobs
• Prioritising development on brownfield sites – rejuvenating existing derelict land and protecting the green belt
• Any new development must take account of the need to protect a high-quality environment
• Help fulfil the councils' legal duty to cooperate under the National Planning Policy Framework.
We shall endeavour to provide members with some thoughts on how to respond, if at all, before the December deadline.
Bath Abbey's Footprint Project
There are two opportunities to hear about progress on the Abbey's Footprint project: Monday 14th Nov 1500-1600 in the South Transept, and Monday 21st Nov 1830-1930, in the same place.
Guidance for Owners of Listed Buildings
The Bath Preservation Trust is drafting a new publication called 'Making Changes – Guidance for Owners of Listed Buildings' which they intend to provide free to building owners and prospective owners. This is designed to be an accessible, friendly leaflet that covers in just enough detail the planning and conservation considerations for owners of old buildings. It will not be highbrow or in any way dictatorial, but instead provide useful and straightforward Bath-specific information on all aspects of owning and restoring/changing an old building in Bath and where to go for more detailed advice.
FoBRA has been asked for its views, and we have encouraged the project, pointing out that these wonderful Georgian buildings, which constitute a large part of the WHS, are privately owned and maintained. The owners need to be encouraged, nurtured, advised and supported, therefore, rather than punished. They can spend their money on the houses only once, and hence could benefit from being pointed in the right direction. We also cited guidance which is already available to the owners of such properties in Edinburgh, indicating what can be done, but which would have to be adapted, of course.
One of our members (Bathwick Hill) has asked me to draw attention to the plight of the Citizens' Advice here. CA has had its funding cut, so has a shortfall in funding for this year, and is looking for further support. On its website http://www.cab-banes.org./ there is a brief overview of what it does. It is asking local businesses and individuals if they will consider a small donation. Also its fundraising is done through Local Giving who are matching funding from 18th Oct to 17th Nov, or until the pot for matched funding runs out, so a donation of £10 will give it at least £20.
The Lansdown Crescent Association (LCA) tells me it has recently completed a worthy project, to replace more than 1000 finials on the top of the metal railings there, missing for the last 74 years, having been sawn off in WWII to aid the war effort. This type of restoration can usually be tackled only as an overall project, with group planning approval and with funding assistance, so, in 2012, the LCA investigated. The World Heritage Site Enhancement Fund provided seed corn funding, and Rhys Brookes became the architect. Listed Building consent was granted in May 2013, including an approved method of replacement, and all affected owners were contacted (both to seek their agreement and to warn that a contribution from owners would be needed). Ex-LCA Chairman, Beccy Derry-Evans, took on project management.
Funding sources were pursued, with increasingly disappointing results. Three frustrating years passed before a route was found, approved at the Association's AGM in Feb 2016, which allowed the project to proceed (helped by a leading article in The Times on 26th March 2016). Ultimately, all affected owners agreed to take part, and thus, when completed, all missing finials will have been replaced. The principal benefactor was Dr Marianna Clark, a local resident, with significant contributions from the owners, the Ward Councillors' Initiative Funds and the Association.
The Chapel Forge, who had undertaken the Association's successful handrail project, undertook the work and the project was "declared complete" by The Mayor of Bath, Cllr Paul Crossley, at a celebration on 16th Oct, in Lansdown Crescent, where Mr Mayor referred to this as a great example of community initiative, responsibility and awareness of our World Heritage City status.
Please don't forget to book your places for our Winter Reception on Tuesday 17th Jan 17, and publicise this amongst all the members of your own Associations. It is always a good party, to which we invite your Ward Councillors, a slice of the Cabinet and senior Council Officers, and leaders of Bath in other fields. However, it also depends on all of us being there too! We discussed in Committee the slightly low turnout at the last one and have deliberately made the date later in January this year, to avoid a clash with clearing up after Christmas and New Year, so I hope you will find this convenient.
Robin Kerr, final, 12th Nov 16
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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