Chairman's Report for meeting 10th July 14
Representatives, Posts, Subject Leads & Sub-Committees
Annexed to the Agenda was version 4 of the table of Representatives, Posts, Subject Leads & Sub-Committees. It shows how many people work for FoBRA, in one capacity or another, additional to those in the Executive. Please check it for accuracy, and let me have any comments (or names of fresh volunteers).
Location and Start Times for Committee Meetings
After a deal of research and a test of all the practical meeting venues (seven), I think the best compromise is Widcombe Junior School and so Committee meetings will, in future, be arranged there unless circumstances make this impossible. When we used the Green Park Meeting Rooms, start time was fixed at 1915, to fit in with the free parking period at Sainsbury's. Some representatives have asked whether an earlier start time might be possible at Widcombe Junior. I have inquired, and the earliest permissible by the school would be 1745 (allowing a period for furniture arrangement). I should be grateful for representatives' views on a change, and, if so, what start time would please the majority.
As the Calling Notice says, FoBRA still lacks a Secretary. It cannot operate without a Secretary, so, with the next Committee meeting almost upon us, when she or he will be vital, I appeal to all FoBRA members to look even harder in their Associations for a willing volunteer. It is fascinating work and I think of great importance to the Community. If you believe FoBRA, and FoBRA's work, is useful, now is the time to act. The roles which I undertook are being reduced: Chairman of the Planning Sub-Committee is now transferring to Nick Tobin, in addition to his Vice-Chairmanship; and I propose that the job of Social Secretary is done by another volunteer, so I am looking for a name there as well. However, a Secretary is needed, and needed very soon (ie before 10th July).
FoBRA Website Name
FoBRA's current website address is www.bathresidents.org.uk . For some years we have also owned www.bathresidents.co.uk but have kept it dormant to prevent its being hijacked and used by others. Domain names ending in ".uk" have recently become available and so we have bought www.bathresidents.uk Please tell me whether you think we should switch over to the new version (obviously we would run old and new domain names in parallel for (say) a year).
Consultation of Members In the past, FoBRA's aim has been to write to Member Associations as little as possible between Committee meetings (apart from issuing minutes and calling notices, of course). In an experimental change of policy, I have written to you six times on various subjects since the last meeting on 1st May, either to give you information or to say what FoBRA proposed to do about some issue, giving you an opportunity to comment on this course of action. I should like to know if this new, more communicative, way is preferable or merely a nuisance. Henry's Gong I wrote to all members on 15th June to tell you that Henry Brown, our recently retired Chairman, had been selected by the Queen in her Birthday Honours list the previous day to be awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for "services to the community" (in his role as Chairman of FoBRA). I felt this was not only a wonderful and long overdue reward for Henry's untiring work for all the citizens of Bath, but also a compliment to, and recognition of, FoBRA itself, and of the importance of Community Service. I wrote to him about it on behalf of members to congratulate him: I think he has been very touched by it all. Meetings with Paul Crossley On 30th May I had a meeting with the Council Leader, principally to talk about the Governance of Bath (see below). We spoke also about gulls, public lavatories in parks, flooding risk upstream of Pulteney Bridge, Bath's transport strategy and Steve Bradley, the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate. Most of these subjects are covered elsewhere in the agenda or the associated reports. He asked me to meet him on 2nd July, when we covered the Governance of Bath again, the Transport Strategy consultation and recent workshop (see below), the Core Strategy (see Planning Brief), and Queen Square rejuvenation (see below). Bath Governance
We discussed the Governance of Bath at our 11th March and 31st July Committee meetings last year. In my meetings with Paul Crossley (see above), he told me how Council discussions were proceeding to try to address the democratic deficit in Bath1. He has created a cross-party working group to look at options, including various forms of parishing and of committees of Bath Councillors, with some financial powers2, and possibly inclusion of representatives from residents' groups. In parallel, a petition is being raised to seek a referendum to create an Executive Mayor in B&NES. The law requires 5% of the electorate (6900 people) to sign such a petition, in which case the referendum would be held next May (with the General Election) and, if this decided in favour, we would vote on choice
1 Radstock and Keynsham have Town Councils with the powers of a parish, but Bath has nothing. 2 Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) could be one source, and could be increased, with this formula.
of Mayor in the Autumn of 2015. I attended a meeting about this on 26th June to discover more, and I have invited an expert to address our 10th July Committee, as a short addition to the published agenda, to tell us the implications.
Bath Transport Strategy
Issued with the Calling Notice was a media release by the Council on its Transport Policy consultation. The closing date for views on this is 25th July, and all members are encouraged to respond. On 26th June, I attended a workshop on this, with an inspirational intro by Sir Peter Hendy, a resumé of the draft Transport Strategy and of the Riverside Enterprise Masterplan, with Q&As by a stellar cast. FoBRA's response is being considered by our Transport Group and I hope to be able to share a draft of it with you at the 10th July Committee meeting.
Bus Price Petition
In the 12th June Chronicle was a story about reduction in First Bus ticket prices, following a 6-week consultation earlier this year. Meanwhile, Melanie Delargy has launched her "Fare Deal" petition to seek a bus fare reduction. Details can be found at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/fare-deal-for-bath-families . BBUG supports this petition and FoBRA has signed it.
Shared Transport Seminar
I attended a Shared Transport conference in the Guildhall on 17th June to mark the launch of the new rentable bikes "Nextbike". Nextbikes seem a great improvement on the previous type, particularly in the way one pays for them, and there were good presentations on similar experiences from the Continent & London; the concept of sharing transport; car clubs; and the relationship between shared and public transport.
Noise Pollution and the Deregulation of Amplified Noise
Nigel Websper, PERA, raised with me on 2nd June a statement by the owner of Moles nightclub who thought that local residents had too much power over the level of noise acceptable from clubs, festival, etc. I replied that we should bear this in mind. In parallel, I wrote to members on 19th June with a draft of an email to our MP, Don Foster, asking him to oppose the deregulation of amplified noise, and in particular through the Legislative Reform Order process. All those who responded were in favour of my writing and so the email was sent on 22nd June. Don called me on 27th June about this, discussed the issues in detail, and promised to take account of our concerns. At his request, I also forwarded to him FoBRA's original response to the consultation, for which he has thanked me.
Student Housing Policy
On 3rd June, I attended, with Chris Beezley, a meeting of the University of Bath/Local Residents Forum. Chris and I spoke about (a) FoBRA's aim to help to create a student housing policy in Bath and to persuade the Council to adopt appropriate wording in its Placemaking Plan (see minutes of FoBRA Committee dated 30th Jan), and (b) differences, possibly large, between the Council's and FoBRA's forecast of the number of students likely to require accommodation in the city over the next decade or two. We were well received, and, as a consequence, a draft FoBRA paper on forecast numbers has been prepared and sent to the University of Bath for its comments. The outcomes of such a discussion are the tricky questions: (c) where would all these extra students live and (d) what effect would large commercial student housing blocks in the city have on the Council's housing plans as defined in the Core Strategy and/or on the Council's Enterprise Zone and its proposals for job and wealth creation?
Greenway, supported by Widcombe and Bear Flat Associations, is considering use of the National Planning Policy Framework (paras 76/77) in protecting local green space near them, at Beechen Cliff school and in Alexandra Park. They have asked for FoBRA's support for this and I am inclined to give it. This may have applicability for other members.
Queen Square Rejuvenation
I attended the launch reception about rejuvenating Queen Square on 19th June. This was first mooted two years ago, when FoBRA was a principal driver of the notion. £100K is to be invested in it, starting after the summer break, to:
Restore the internal paths and landscape
Refurbish the benches
Reinstate the East and West gateways
Enhance the boules squares
Enable temporary road closures for events
Further improvements are envisaged and could be made in the future.
The Friends of Smallcombe Cemetery are seeking funds to save it from the depredations of nature and will be holding the launch of a photographic competition about it (but at the same time as our Committee meeting). This bid is supported by the NT, the Council and the Royal Photographic Society, as well as several neighbouring Member RAs. Details at: www.smallcombegardencemetery.org
B&NES' Economic & Community Development Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel met on 16th June to discuss Avon & Somerset Police Force's new operating model. The Vice Chairman attended and will brief us on it.
Street Trading Policy
The Council's Street Trading Policy is being refreshed and the draft can be seen at www.bathnes.gov.uk/street-trading-consultation . Consultation runs until 30th July. Ian Perkins, FoBRA's licensing subject lead, will brief us about it.
NHS Walk-in Centre
The NHS Walk-in Centre in James Street West closed in April, as a cost-saving measure, with alternative urgent-care services being provided on the RUH site. What are members' feelings about this? I understand the view of the NHS is that, though it is regrettable, savings have to be found and not enough use is being made of it to justify its retention.
Robin Kerr, 4th July 14
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
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Chairman's AGM Report 17th May 16
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Chairman's Report 7th April 2016
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12th November 2015
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AGM Report May 15
Chairman's Report - Mar 15
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Chairman's Report Nov 2014
Chairman's Report Sept 2014
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