Meeting with Cllr Paul Crossley
Nick and I met Cllr Paul Crossley, Leader of the Council, on 9th Oct. Subjects covered were: Transport Strategy Progress and the LEZ letter, Governance of Bath Consultation, Upstream Flooding Risk, Space Standards, Student Housing Policy, Party Houses and a new T&F Group ("Enforcement" suggested). Some of these are covered elsewhere in my report, or will be covered in the meeting, but Flooding Risk is not. This arose out of the presentation by Henrietta at the last Committee. We asked Paul (a) to take the subject seriously and to consider, as a matter of Council policy and funding, the protection of dwellings within the city upstream of Pulteney Bridge to the same standard as the Quays Riverside project will do below it, and (b) to ensure that fully worked-up emergency evacuation plans exist for the dwellings there (particularly as many contain old and infirm people). He agreed to do so.
A Low Emission Zone for Bath?
FoBRA wrote to the Council Leader, proposing a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for Bath (FoBRA letter "A Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for Bath" dated 28 Sept 14 – posted on FoBRA website.), covering the whole of the centre plus Great Pulteney Street and the Henrietta area. At our 9th Oct meeting, he agreed with the principle, adding that he certainly wanted the area covered by it to be "more ambitious" than Dorchester Street, currently proposed by Council officers.
"Improving Access to Bath"
Patrick Rotheram and I took part in a workshop on 9th Oct about the emerging transport strategy and improvements to Bath from the eastern side of the city; and was a foretaste of what can be expected when the Cabinet and the full Council consider the Bath Transport Strategy on 12th and 13th Nov respectively. FOBRA will of course speak at these meetings, but there is likely to be a large contingent from the eastern parishes who will oppose anything that affects their area. To counter this it is important that FOBRA members, particularly those from areas of high air pollution, attend the meetings and demand action from the Council, as well as lobbying their Ward Councillors (see Annex A).
Placemaking Plan (part of the Core Strategy)
Following our meeting with the Council Leader, I spoke to Stephen George, the lead Officer for the Placemaking Plan about our ambitions for it. These are:
The best estimate of students who will need to live in city accommodation (as distinct from the Universities' accommodation) in the future, and a Council policy for how to deal with this.
Minimum space standards for house building in B&NES, noting that the Govt is presently consulting on a figure which we think is acceptable, but which would have to be "adopted" by the Council.
Stephen noted all this (none of which is a surprise, as we have had earlier, similar conversations), and said the way ahead was through publication of a Placemaking Plan Options document for consultation on 24th Nov.
The Council Leader thanked FoBRA on 2nd Oct for its contribution to the consultation on Bath‟ Governance. FoBRA has now been invited to take part in a Council debate on options, to be held on 20th Nov.
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – response to consultation
FoBRA responded on 18th Sept, largely agreeing with the new scheme.
Public Health to be a Licensing Object
The Local Govt Association has recommended that Public Health should be an "Object" in Local Authorities‟Licensing Policies, and our Council supports this. FoBRA made an oblique reference to this in its comments on the Licensing Policy review last July.
Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
The Home Office‟ "Statutory guidance for frontline professionals" on this Act is available. Parts of the Act may be useful for curbing the worst excesses of Party Houses, such as the new "Community Protection Notice". Sally Rothwell and her two colleagues, our experts on this, will tell us more. The Council hopes to use another provision of the Act to create a zone around the Abbey where amplification of buskers‟music will be banned, so that services there are not disturbed.
NHS Walk-in Centre
I reported to the last meeting that the Bath CCG had asked for a FoI request before it would reveal anything about the closure of the NHS Walk-in Centre. The response finally arrived on 9th Oct and was quite useless, having largely been assembled from what was already available on their own website, but containing several errors! However, I propose to take this subject no further as the decision to close the Centre was made a long time ago (Oct 2012).
Bath Riverside Energy Centre
On 10th Sept I attended the opening ceremony for the new Biomass District Heating plant at the Bath Riverside housing complex. This helps to burnish the scheme‟ "green credentials" and to provide economical heating and hot water to 500 dwellings there. It is housed in a converted Wessex Water building in the middle of the site and is impressive. To heat water it has:
1. Two very large conventional gas-fired boilers
2. Two large Combined Heat and Power Plants running on gas, which generate electricity for the grid and which use waste heat to heat water
3. One large wood-pellet boiler
So, where do the savings arise, bearing in mind that the gas it uses comes straight from the mains? Obviously, nothing is run as long as there is enough hot water in the reservoirs, and items 2&3 are used in preference to item 1. Item 2 provides savings through the use of the waste heat, which is a beneficial by-product of the electricity generation. Item 3 provides carbon saving (as use of wood is considered to be carbon-neutral). Lastly, the scale of the system provides saving in efficiency, though, obviously, there are some losses in the very long pipework.
Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel
The Gainsborough Hotel have told me that "the construction of the hotel has taken longer than expected due to the challenges of working within a listed building". They add that the opening date will not now be until early 2015.
Burlington Street Wall
I reported to the January meeting about the collapsed wall in Burlington Street (Listed Grade II), which belongs to St Mary's church, Julian Road, as follows:
Discussion with St Mary's Church Buildings Committee reveal that (a) the wall collapsed 8 years ago, (b) it is their wall, (c) they are determined to do something about it – either rebuild it or develop the site, (d) the foundations are insecure, including timber, which rotted, but below that are vaults which seem stable. Structural engineers have been involved and prices obtained.
The whole situation, and its management, is clearly disgraceful, and their quoted ambition to "do something about it" has got nowhere in 9 months. They now tell me that the tree on site has roots which are enmeshed in the wall's foundations and would be damaged, perhaps fatally, if the wall were rebuilt. As the tree has a preservation order (TPO) on it, they feel that this precludes further work. I answered that about 35 trees are due to be felled on the Hope House site, nearby, when it is developed, some of which have TPOs, and so the Planning Dept are clearly open to proposals for overturning such orders. Another approach could be to seek permission to build more of the street on St Mary's car park, presumably in replica, as has been done in Northampton Street and Bathwick Street, thereby also solving the wall problem. St Mary's have commissioned a report from Jones Lang, and this is awaited.
Finally, with the help of Morny Davison, a volunteer to be our Secretary has emerged. His name is Barry Henderson, and he will introduce himself on 4th Nov.
We have been approached by WebCollect, who have developed Membership Software for clubs and societies which allows one to:
Manage all membership data securely
Handle subscriptions, including joint memberships
Run bookings for events, conferences or courses
Collect payments from members by Direct Debit, Paypal, bank transfer and cards
Create email or text messaging lists and communicate with members
Reduce admin costs
Increase membership and member participation rates
The service costs from £60 annually. FoBRA has decided not to take this further but Member Associations may be interested.
We review our "Priorities" every two years, and so it‟ time to do it again. They currently are: Governance, Planning, Public Realm and Traffic & Pollution. We have position statements about all four on our website. Accordingly, there will be an agenda item for our January meeting to start this review (so get your thinking caps on, please!). At the same time I shall ask for a discussion on the periodicity of our Committee meetings and the timing of these.
Firstly, I propose to start posting the one-page summaries of the minutes of our Committee meetings on the website. Secondly, several pages of the website Home page have been refreshed, notably the "News" entries, and the descriptions of our "Priorities". Please take a look at them and let me know what you think. Lastly, some of you must be wondering when Henry‟ welcome video on our Home page will feature your new Chairman. I have been putting this off until we had a Secretary, but must now visit Hollywood!
[Robin Kerr, final, 31st Oct 14]
"Improving Access to Bath"
Further to the above item, city residents were heavily outnumbered by representatives from the parishes to the east of Bath, who of course are statutory consultees, while the city, being unparished, has none. Representatives from Wiltshire were also present. Besides FOBRA there was one city representative, from the Widcombe Association. No one had been invited from London Road.
FoBRA argued strongly that the main problem was excessive traffic and air pollution, which would have a serious impact on those living and working in the affected areas. The whole of the main road network in Bath was affected, but the problem was especially severe along the London Road and Bathwick Street, so there was a specific issue on the eastern side of the city. 93% of air pollution in Bath was due to traffic, we said, and of that the greatest source was HGVs. We needed an eastern park-and-ride to provide an alternative to driving into Bath from the east, and an A36-A46 link road to remove through traffic from the city, especially HGVs. These measures would also have the effect of allowing improved bus services into the city from the villages to the east.
As expected, the parishes made the point that these changes would have an adverse effect on the communities to the east of Bath, and would affect the 'setting' of the World Heritage Site. While we recognised that what we were proposing would have an impact on the environment to the east of Bath, this could not be considered in isolation. There was a balance to be struck between the needs of the area to the east of Bath and the needs the city itself. The 'setting' cannot be more important than the „jewel‟. The situation in Bath, with unhealthy and unlawful levels of air pollution throughout the city, and pollution degrading the historic built environment of the WHS, was close to intolerable.
[Patrick Rotheram, 17th Oct 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 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
Chairman's Report 15th Nov 2016
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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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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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Chairman's Report November 2013
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