Chairman's Report for FoBRA Meeting 13th Jan 2015
Bath Transport Strategy
As reported on our website, the Bath Transport Strategy was adopted by the full Council unanimously on 13th Nov. FoBRA and several Member Associations attended1 and spoke in support of it at this Council meeting and at the preparatory Scrutiny and Cabinet meetings beforehand. This is a key opportunity to begin tackling the serious problems of traffic congestion and air pollution in the city. Importantly, the following form part of the Strategy: an Eastern P&R, an Eastern bypass, the need to develop a traffic management plan, reducing traffic and visitor parking in the centre, and tackling the illegal pollution. The next stage will be to see the Delivery Plan, but this will probably have to wait until after the elections. Following Council approval, FoBRA met the Conservative Leader and his Traffic spokesman on 26th Nov to discuss any lingering reservations they might have.
1 FoBRA, CARA, TARA, St James's Square, BERA, Greenway, Widcombe and probably several others.
Air Quality Measurement – downgrading?
A story in the Sunday Times of 28th Dec (and elsewhere) indicated that Councils might no longer be required to conduct Air Quality measurement, if a DEFRA consultation showed lack of interest (https://consult.defra.gov.uk/communications/laqm-review-next-steps/ ). It seemed as though this could undermine FoBRA's campaign to clean up our air by reducing traffic in pollution hotspots, as it would no longer be possible to prove where these were (or how pollution was improving as traffic was reducing). Patrick Rotheram is investigating this, but initial reaction from the Council experts indicates that it is only measurement of relatively unimportant pollutants that is proposed.
Clarification of Accounts
Representatives will have participated in the discussion on this at the last meeting on 4th Nov, and will have seen the minute on the subject issued on 20th Nov. This subject is now closed.
B&NES' Budget Fair
The Council held several sessions of its usual Budget Fair between 4th and 6th Nov, and I wrote to all representatives on 18th Nov with my views on it.
Bath Governance Debate
I attended2 a seminar on Bath Governance on 18th Nov, organized by the Council, led by Cllr Paul Crossley. This is part of a series to explore better governance for Bath, about which I have written before, but this particular session was to compare two different approaches: a Town Council (with Parish powers), about which a presentation was made by Cllr Malcolm Nicholson of Weston super Mare Town Council; and a Town Forum (or Committee), described by Winchester City Council's Corporate Director, Steve Tilbury. Both options were interesting, but, after deep questioning had taken place, I concluded that either would work here, and that both had advantages (and disadvantages).
2 Also Greenway, TARA and the Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Tim Warren.
Lib Dem Approach
FoBRA was approached on 23rd Nov by Cllr Ben Stevens (Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development) to help the Lib Dems in preparing their manifesto for the elections in May. I replied that we were pleased to be approached, but our non-political Constitutional stance meant we could not and must not help. I added that, in the run-up to Council elections, our policy was to invite the leaders of all the main political groupings to address one of our meetings, and that his leader, Cllr Paul Crossley, had already attended on 4th Nov, so he might be able to get some hints there. More than that, I suggested that he visited our website, as it had recently been updated – particularly the position papers accessible under "FoBRA Priorities" on the Home page.
State of Roads in Bath
Representatives will remember BERA's item at the 9th Sep Committee about the state of roads around their part of Bath. I wrote to the appropriate Officer, Peter Dawson, on 24th Sep about the examples which were of Bath-wide significance. Finally, Traffic Officer, Peter Bailey, contacted BERA about this in late Nov and inspected the sites with Ken Ayers. Actual repairs might take a bit longer, though!
Advice on Organizing Events
The Council has advice to give to those organizing events. Council Officer Elspeth Hinde is recommended as a contact, and two weblinks could be useful: the Council's event toolkit at www.bathnes.gov.uk/eventstoolkit , and its Frequently Asked Questions page at www.bathnes.gov.uk/eventsFAQs .
Upstream Flooding Risk
Representatives will remember Henrietta's presentation on Upstream Flooding Risk at the 9th Sep Committee, and further mention of FoBRA's subsequent actions at the last meeting. Cllr Lisa Brett (Vice Chairman of the Planning,
Transport and Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel) wrote to me on 30th Nov to say she had met Louise Fradd (Strategic Director of Place) and agreed that the Panel should have an informed debate, with the Environment Agency present, about upstream flooding issues. This is planned to take place early in the New Year, and will be open to the public.
Police Station Changes
B&NES' Economic & Community Development Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel will meet on 20th Jan at 1100 in The Guildhall to discuss the new police operating model, including the proposed changes to police stations. Chief Supt Caroline Peters, Area Commander for B&NES and South Gloucestershire, will speak. The meeting, which will also be webcast, will be held in a 'Question Time' format, with the public able to submit questions in advance, or at the meeting.
National Organization of Residents' Associations (NORA)
1. Right to Light: The Law Commission has proposed (in 243 pages!) a revision and rationalisation of the Right to Light, and NORA has asked for our comments. I have asked our Planning Sub-Committee to look at this.
2. Noisy Neighbours: NORA sent us a disturbing email about rowdy students and noisy "Party Houses", which I passed on to relevant Member Associations. The former showed (in Manchester) what can happen when the Authorities lose control of a "student district" but, in the latter, there was better news, as a legal precedent has been established (in Poole), making the landlord of a Party House responsible for the behaviour of his or her tenants.
3. Entertainment Licensing Deregulation: This is wending its way through Parliament (encouraged by our own MP!), the particular concern being deregulation of amplified music to audiences of up to 600. Most venues where this might happen will still require additional approval, but not the gardens or yards of pubs. I had a spirited discussion with NORA's Chairman about this. He has raised the issue with the Department and with the Parliamentary Committee secretary, but don't hold your breath.
Consultation on Amplified Busking near the Abbey
On a subject related to (3) above (but under different laws), the Council is consulting about a ban on amplified busking around the Abbey, 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 .
As promised in my last report, the minutes of Committee meetings are now being posted, and a video of me now welcomes visitors to our website (instead of Henry!).
Out of our 33 members, no fewer than 10 Associations have still not paid their annual subscriptions, due at the AGM last May, amounting to over £400. This is neither fair to FoBRA, which needs the income to operate, nor to the other 22 members which have paid, nor to our long suffering Treasurer, who has spent much time and effort cajoling Treasurers and Chairmen to pay. In parallel, we need an accurate total of households in membership of each, in order to levy the right subscription and also to be able to tell those with whom we do business how many people we speak for. If this money is not collected by our March meeting, I may be forced to name names!
Robin Kerr, 9th Jan 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
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