Chairman's Report for FoBRA Committee 17th May 16
Following news of the demise of Bill Bloomfield in my last report, members will be sad to hear of the death of another FoBRA stalwart, Francis Holtam, some weeks ago, after a short illness. He leaves a wife, Francine, and two children one of whom is in her final school year. Francis was a Chartered Surveyor in private practice, and a devout Catholic. He was FoBRA Chairman before Henry Brown, my predecessor, and also a founder member of Henrietta Park Residents' Association, serving as its Chairman for many years.
Nick and I met the Council Leader, Cllr Tim Warren, on 19th Apr 16. He was accompanied by Cllrs Tony Clarke (Cabinet Member for Transport) and Patrick Anketell-Jones (Major Projects). We spoke about:
• Bath Transport Strategy implementation plan (including reductions in city parking) and the Bath Alliance for Transport and the Public Realm (see items below)
• City centre visitor permits for hotels.
• The Placemaking Plan (see item in agenda)
• The Rec and the Rec Trust (see item below)
• Planning – the Christmas Market Extension proposal (see Planning Report) and control of A-boards.
• The West of England (WoE) Economic Devolution (see item below)
Meeting with Ben Howlett MP
Nick and I met Ben on 16th Apr 16. We spoke about:
• Bath Transport Strategy implementation (members will have noted that Ben managed to ask a PMQ about an A36/46 linkage on 27th Apr, and received a favourable answer).
• WoE Devolved Authority.
• Student Housing.
• Rec Trust.
• Christmas Market Extension proposal.
Bath City Conference – Friday 1st July
I hope everyone will attend the Bath City Conference, which, this year, will be on 1st July, and, for the first time, will be under the aegis of the Bath City Forum. As well as the usual panel Q&A in the evening, it is hoped to feature debates on Bath Transport Policy, WoE Devolution, Student accommodation and the Rec Trust.
Bath Alliance for Transport and the Public Realm
Members will recall a report at the last Committee, in particular noting that Bath Bridge was now leading this, and that progress was being made in signing up prominent stakeholders who support this initiative. It continues, and I expect it to "go public" shortly.
Cabinet meeting to discuss Transport Scrutiny day
This took place on 4th May. The Secretary attended on our behalf – see his report (annexed).
The Rec and the Rec Trust
I posted the following on our website in early April: "News on the Rec situation has been sparse recently, but the following has come from PERA, and is of Bath-wide importance - hence its publication here. In PERA's current newsletter the following is written about the Rec and the Rec Trust:
Following the Trustees' successful appeal that the Rec does not have to be kept as open space, and can be sold, PERA representatives (excluding N Websper) have met with the Trustees to agree certain measures. At present the Trustees will not agree to anything that restricts their ability to hold any number of events, use the whole of the Rec for a stadium, with no limit on height or size, and no minimum amount of open space for amateur sport. They will also not agree to anything that restricts their ability to sell the Rec in whole or in part.
By way of clarification:
• Nigel Websper (PERA Chairman) did not take part in the above meeting with the Rec Trustees simply because he is still involved in the Lower (Charity) Tribunal legal negotiations about the precise clauses and wording by which the Rec Trust will be bound in the future (the higher (appeal) court having returned the case to the lower tribunal for decision by negotiation).
• The statement "....use the whole of the Rec for a stadium, with no limit on height or size....." would, of course, be subject to planning permission, which is exclusively the territory of the Local Planning Authority and the Planning Inspectorate, not the Trust.
It is significant that little, if any, of this has appeared recently in the Press."
I feel it is time for the Rec Trust to tell us, Bath's citizens, what is going on.
Sydney Gardens Stakeholder Meeting
I attended, on your behalf, the first Sydney Gardens Stakeholder Meeting on 4th May, intended to support a major HLF "Parks for People" bid later this year. I emphasised the FoBRA view (supported by the Bath Preservation Trust) that Sydney Gardens are special, and belong to all citizens, not just those who live locally. Public onsite consultation on the plans will take place on 2nd June, and the next stakeholder meeting will be on 24th May.
National Organization of Residents' Associations (NORA)
NORA is considering a campaign on abuse of the planning regime, based on a Times letter dated 26th Apr 16, with a view to securing a meeting with one of the DCLG Ministers about it.
The Secretary wrote to all members on 9th May with details from NORA of the National Student Housing Conference to be held in Durham on 20th July. This is of desperate importance, particularly to Bath, and yet neither our Executive members nor our subject expert can make the date. Can anyone help? FoBRA would be happy to pay expenses.
West of England Devolution
I wrote in my last Report about this. The Council held a debate about it on 12th May, to help the Cabinet to decide whether to support the Chancellor's proposals. The Bath City Forum will be briefed about it on 1st June.
Penny Ford, of the Alzheimer's Society, is keen to meet organizations in Bath to brief them on how to become "Dementia Friendly". See me for details.
Festival of Nature
This takes place, largely in Bristol, from 11th to 25th June. However, there is a big Bath day on 25th June – visit www.bnhc.org.uk/festival-of-nature/
The Lansdown Bomb!
Members will be pleased to hear that your Chairman survived the unexploded bomb found on the Hope House site by evacuating himself and his wife to Edinburgh, which seemed far enough to be safe (no house being closer to the bombsite than his own).
Robin Kerr, draft 1, 14th May 16
Annex A – Report on B&NES Cabinet meeting on Wed 4 May 2016 on an Eastern P & R
To consider reports (meeting recorded and filmed) outlining the findings and conclusions from:
- The Communities, Transport and Environment Policy Development & Scrutiny Panel - Inquiry Day;
- The Local Development Framework Steering Group - Sites Review:
To determine a recommended solution for the transport issues to the east of Bath.
The Secretary spoke for FoBRA: "We urge you to keep in mind that it isn't only about flora, fauna and
views around Bathampton and Batheaston. It is also about the health and life expectancy of people
from there - and others - living, working in and visiting Bath. A responsible balance must be struck.
"The so-called 'corridor of death' caused by traffic pollution in and through the City has been declared
an 'Air Quality Management Area' because the levels of pollution are over (in some places 50% over)
the legal limit - which the World Health Organisation considers a serious health threat. There could
hardly be a more urgent issue.
"We welcomed the integrated transport solution achieved in the Bath Transport Strategy, agreed by
all parties on the Council in November 2014 and endorsed by the results of the general and local
elections a year ago.
"Fourteen thousand cars a day enter or leave the city at Walcot that could potentially be using an
eastern park-and-ride. Currently they have no alternative to driving right into the city centre to park.
During the years of debate, this traffic has increased by 20%.
"Traffic in Bath urgently needs to be reduced now and the Bath Transport Strategy implemented with
a comprehensive transport plan. Established park and rides to the north, west and south are successful
and popular. We need an eastern park and ride. It may not be the most important part but is an
essential part of the overall Strategy, and we urge you determine to press ahead with it."
David Redgwell: Argued that the Council's proposals were all based on flawed data.
Fiona Powell, represented by Andrew Lea, said people had been badly let down by the transport
department's 'inadequacy of evidence'.
Annie Kilvington maintained the Conservatives were always anti-health.
Tim Williams believed a P & R was irrelevant.
Christine Boyd: Displayed posters against the meadows sites.
Nicolette Boater complained of a flawed consultation – no P & R needed.
Cllr Dine Romero deplored the scheme "supported by the last Tory administration and the current
Tory MP". She said a sustainable long term solution was needed by a process to join up all solutions.
Cllr John Bull spoke to the Scrutiny Committee report, a summary of which had been published. He
seemed to feel an A36/A46 link would be a preferable alternative to a P & R. He confirmed the
Committee had used Alliance data.
Cllr Geoff Ward was concerned that an E P & R would spoil the 'beautiful jewel' of Bathampton
Meadows and urged against any decision which might be regretted by too mean a financial view.
Cllr Liz Richardson spoke to the report of the all-party sites review steering group, a summary of which
had been published.
The cabinet noted the two reports.
Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of the Council, said the final decision, which had been scheduled for 18th May
would be postponed until 13th July to allow completion of all reports; "we need to make a decision -
and not a wrong one – and put in place an E P & R to which we are committed".
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
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