Nick and I held one of our periodic meetings with the Council Leader, Cllr Tim Warren, on 25th Sept. Subjects covered were:
a. Clean Air Zone progress.
b. Bath Transport Strategy progress – WECA visibility?
c. Enforcement of lorry weight limit in George Street
d. UoB U1 bus service re-routing
e. Progress on Central Permit Holder-Only parking bays; hotel visitor permits; resident visitor permits for Central area.
f. Revision of Coach Strategy
a. Short term lettings, including Airbnb, Party Houses, 'Hollowing out', comparisons with Durham + practical legal restraints; the affordable housing crisis. VoA assessment for Biz rates.
b. Student Housing (Cricket Club JR; UoB School of Management; and Student Housing policy progress)
c. The need to revise B&NES' HMO SPD
d. Christmas Market 2018/19. Extension to 25 days?
I would be happy to cover any of these more fully when we meet on 15th Oct.
Bath City Forum (BCF)
The most recent BCF was held on 18th Sept. This was also the Forum's AGM, so much of the time was inevitably taken up in 'Annual' business. I was unable to attend, but the minutes show:
• The Fire & Rescue Service reported: there were questions about river safety and overcrowding during Christmas Markets.
• The Police reported: there were questions about drug dealing (including 'county lines' & 'cuckoo-ing') in Kingsmead Square and Monmouth Street.
• The CIL sub-committee had recommended payment to 14 projects of £280K between Dec 17 and Sept 18. One of these was £28K to the Canal and River Trust to help in funding a Community Workboat. This has now been procured, and put to good use by volunteers mending grab-lines and river safety equipment, collecting 30 bags of rubbish during a volunteer litter pick and by turning the boat into a 'floating forest' for the Forest of Imagination Festival.
• Of the latest four CIL applications, two were recommended and approved: £2450 to a traffic safety scheme for Bathwick St Mary's Primary School, and £41K for a fully accessible 'changing places' facility in Sydney Gardens.
• The Forum discussed, once more, development of its own working methods, but no conclusions were reached.
The next BCF meeting will take place on 13th Nov 18.
As stated in my last Report, the next Council Elections in B&NES will take place on Thursday 2nd May 2019. It is our custom to invite the Leaders of the main political groupings to come to successive Committee meetings during the run-up to 'lay out their stall' and to answer questions. B&NES Independent Group (BIG) will therefore be presenting and answering questions at this Committee, on 15th October; and the Conservatives have accepted to do so on 4th Dec. I am hopeful that the remainder will come in the New Year.
Cricket Club Judicial Review
Nick has written about the proposal to build student housing in the Bath Cricket Club car park in the last four Planning Sub Committee reports (Nov, Jan, Mar and July), and the DMC's controversial decision to approve it. This seems to be moving towards a Judicial Review, led by the Bath Preservation Trust (BPT). As these Reviews can be very expensive, and as this one does not look amenable to Crowd Funding, BPT has been seeking pledges, should they decide to go ahead. The Executive thinks they deserve it, on the basis that this might encourage others to follow suit. A modest contribution would be appropriate, as our funds do not stretch to large amounts. I suggest £200. (So far BPT is understood to have received pledges of about £2,500 to their possible costs. The first stage could cost up to £5,000.)
Traffic and Pollution Conference – 16th Nov 18
As mentioned in Patrick Rotheram's Report, a major Transport conference is being arranged by the Bath Alliance for Transport and the Public Realm, of which FoBRA is a founder member, on Friday 16th Nov 18. A flyer with the agenda and registration details accompanies this Report. As Transport is FoBRA's highest priority, all members are recommended to send representatives (and as many as possible!). Staging such conferences is not cheap, however, so I shall be proposing that FoBRA contributes a modest sum to the organizers: £200, for example.
Housing Conference 9th Nov 18
Julian House and our MP, Wera Hobhouse, are co-sponsoring a Housing Conference in Bath on Friday 9th Nov 18. I have no further details, other than that it will cover 'Homelessness'.
Tram Conference 24th Nov 18
I understand that 'Bath Trams' and our MP, Wera Hobhouse, are hosting a conference on the re-introduction of trams in Bath on Saturday 24th Nov, possibly in Widcombe Social Club, "as a solution to the congestion and pollution issues, as a stimulus to Bath's economy by facilitating shoppers and workers entering the city, and as a solution to movement in the public realm within the city. In addition to a comprehensive network within Bath, tram connections to Chippenham, Radstock, Bristol and Bristol airport are proposed. Experts from the transport sector will be giving their views, along with the leaders of the local political parties."
Some of you will have read Brian Oliver's excellent article on Studentification in The Observer of 23rd Sept. If not, I recommend it: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/sep/23/town-v-gown-is-the-student-boom-wrecking-communities . The telling fact that Brian Oliver received sufficient material on HMOs from across UK (including from our own Universities lead, Chris Beezley) to fill a 350-page book shows that he touched a widespread raw nerve. Chris points to the following as a lesson on how towns and cities must act if they want to avoid some of the worst effects of HMOs, and they are only part of the problem:
"Brighton & Hove city council is using all the additional powers it can to counter HMOs in the worst-affected parts of the city, with more proposals in the pipeline. For example, there will be a limit on HMOs by street, no sandwiching of family homes by HMOs, and a limit of 20% HMOs in wider areas. If the plan goes ahead "it would be the most rigorous policy country-wide", said Councillor Hill."
Student Voting Petition
Colleagues in Fallowfield, Manchester, have raised a Petition to seek to prevent students voting in their University town when living away from their home area. Kirstie circulated it on 30th Sept, but, if you missed it, you can find it at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/228992/sponsors/new?token=sm6YXixvkhEOS3XfKCn
On 24th Sept, Barry Gilbertson wrote to me as follows: "I met with Robin and Nick this afternoon. After what was a very amicable meeting with a range of interesting information exchanged, I told R&N that I am standing down from the FoBRA Executive with immediate effect. With my (volunteer) roles at the university increasing due to my seniority as a Governor and Member of University Council, and the (volunteer) World Heritage role taking on even greater time commitment, coupled with the (volunteer) Chairmanship of CARA, something has got to give way. CARA will in future be represented on FoBRA by one of our committee members, Malcolm Baldwin, shadowed by CARA Vice-Chairman Richard Brown. Thanks for your friendship and collegiate teamwork." This is sad news, but Barry has a mountain of commitments, so we have been lucky to have had his dedication to our Executive throughout this year. I am pleased to be able to add, however, that Barry has agreed to continue to advise on Party House and Short-Term Letting problems.
Local Government Boundary Changes
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has finished its work, following extensive consultation, and has recommended to Parliament, that:
• The number of wards in B&NES should reduce from 37 to 33, and the number of Councillors from 65 to 59 (and these 59 should represent 26 two-councillor wards and 7 one-councillor wards).
• Most ward boundaries should change (all the wards in Bath to change, with most to be two-member wards except Moorlands and Oldfield Park).
Presuming Parliament agrees, these will be the wards applicable in the Council Elections on 2nd May 19. Further details at: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/9913
Bath Preservation Trust:
RTPI SW Awards for Planning Excellence – BPT nominated
The Bath Preservation Trust's publication 'Making Changes' is one of eight projects nominated for a prestigious planning award, the result of which will be announced in November.
'RIBA Ask an Architect' Saturday 27th Oct 18
Bath Preservation Trust is working with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) South West to offer monthly Saturday advice surgeries with a local qualified architect from Chartered Practice. Visit https://t.co/EHnRDWxVh5
National Organization of Residents' Associations (NORA)
NORA's annual talks with the Chief Planner in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (new name for DCLG) are due to take place on Tuesday 20th Nov 18. I shall be part of the NORA team, as usual.
The saintly Chairman of NORA, Dr Alan Shrank, is standing aside, having founded it in 2003, to be replaced by Mrs Zofia Lovell, from Farnham, who is an experienced campaigner in the Planning field.
Before he stood down, Alan wrote an essay for the Institute of Economic Affairs' 'Koch Breakthrough Prize' (worth £50K), the question for which this year was "What market-based, popular policy would you recommend to alleviate the UK's housing crisis?" It was launched by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP. Alan's entry is called "Homes for All and Sundry" and we wish it God Speed, but he's up against 349 others, from around the world! If anyone wants to read it, contact me (it's very good).
On 1st Oct 18 the Council announced a crackdown on litter. From early next year streets, parks and public spaces will be patrolled by contract enforcement officers who will have the power to issue fixed penalty notices for littering (including cigarette butts!), dog fouling or fly-tipping, so rejoice or be warned!
The REC and Bath Rugby Stadium
I last wrote about building a rugby stadium on the REC a year ago. Representatives will be aware of the consultations since then, and of discussion at the 20th March Committee. Not much has appeared recently, but I have been in touch with Bath Rugby's PR people (Creatrix) and they know we want to discuss the prospective design and particularly the plan to put the pitch on top of a large car park, so they will arrange a session for our REC Contact Group, but probably not until late December.
Eagle eyed representatives will have noted that we have responded to your comments on our website home page to separate out the "Papers" tab from the one that lists the regular reports such as Minutes, etc.
Robin Kerr, final, 5th Oct 18