Chair's Report

Chairman's Report November 2013

Alcohol harm reduction inquiry day

I attended this Council-run event on 10 October, chaired by Cllr Lisa Brett. There were extensive presentations about the health, social and financial harm caused by excessive drinking. This is by no means confined to problems of drunkenness on the streets. Examples were quoted of actions by Councils in other parts of the country to improve awareness, change attitudes and reduce availability of alcohol, eg a recommended minimum price for retail sales. The Licensing Department is boxed in by the provisions of the Licensing Act, but even so their response was defensive and unconvincing. Several people including myself suggested that the Council needs to work within an agreed vision for the alcohol scene in B&NES, taking account of the interests of the whole community, not just the wishes of the licensed trade, which could be incorporated into the Statement of Licensing Policy, and referred to when licensing decisions are taken. I gather that the Council is studying this. n by the provisions of the Licensing Act, but even so their response caused by excessive drinking. This is by no means

New buildings on Western Riverside

I went to a workshop on 4 October with the architect Studio Egret West about the new block of flats by Victoria Bridge (building B5). To avoid the lumpiness of an eight-storey building, the design has rounded corners, is discreetly stepped back as it goes up, with space for balconies and terraces at all levels, and penthouse gardens on the top level and a green wall at ground floor level, with much planting in between. There would be a cafe near the bridge. This very striking design has attracted much criticism.

North Quays Waterside

Robin and I attended a meeting led by Rhodri Samuel on 9 October, which focused on the design and use of a new riverside space on the north bank of the river, once Green Park Road has been moved further back and the riverside path widened. The aim is to create a pleasant space for leisure and culture. This was a good opportunity for the Council to canvass views before specific decisions are taken.

Bath Rugby stadium

Robin and I met Bath Rugby on 25 October for an initial presentation of the designs for a new stadium, which were then amplified at public events on 14-16 November. Our discussion covered the club's vision statement, the style of architecture, the riverside trees, the riverside catering facilities, and the arrangements for further consultation. We invited Nick Blofeld to repeat the presentation at tonight's meeting.

B&NES Budget Fair

A wide range of stakeholders, including Robin and myself, attended this meeting on 6 November, at which Cllr David Bellotti and his officers presented the budget proposals for 2014-15. Robin has reported this separately (Annex B to the Calling Notice) but the headline news was that there is no end in sight to the policy of austerity imposed from Whitehall.

Public Realm – short term improvements

I have prompted the Council for an update on their implementation of the shopping list of public realm improvements we sent them in July. So far I have had only an acknowledgement from Kelvin Packer of the requests in the highways area.

Core Strategy housing proposals

Members attended the roadshow on the latest Core Strategy housing proposals, which the Council laid on in different locations on 13-21 November. I attended the event in Weston, which was well attended by Councillors and local people. Robin has mentioned this in the planning report, and will give an oral update.

Love Clean Streets app

The Council recently provided me with access to Love Clean Streets, a smartphone app for reporting problems such as flytipping, pavement and street light problems. This enables you to take a photograph and email it with a short explanation. I have tried it out on a few local problems, and found it fairly easy to use. Action has followed quickly in each case. I have recommended that the Council make it (and the quick response) available to RAs generally.

Ben Howlett

The Conservative Parliamentary candidate, who was selected in a public primary election on 1 November, has asked if he can come to FoBRA to discuss issues of concern to RAs. I have told him that I will seek members' views, but that any opportunity afforded to one party needs to be balanced with the same courtesy to others. Are members content that we should offer him a half-hour slot at a meeting in the New Year?

Healthwatch B&NES

We have been asked by this organisation for a volunteer to champion the voice of residents in the provision of local health and social care services. The aim is to give different communities the chance to report their experiences and exert some influence in the shaping of services. Please let me know if anyone in your association is interested.

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