New Council Powers:
As we know, the Council, in common with all others, is short of money. On 3rd Nov, Kirstie circulated to you a Council Press Statement about a bid for new powers to raise funds to invest in local services, such as ability to levy a 'Tourist Tax', for example. This was approved at the Council meeting on 8th Nov. The full paper can be found at https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/documents/g4643/Public%20reports%20pack%2008th-Nov-2018%2018.30%20Council.pdf?T=10 and bears study, but one item in it seemed unfair to us and to the Bath Preservation Trust (BPT): charging for Listed Building Applications. Accordingly, I wrote to the Leader of the Council on your behalf, as did BPT, and this proposal was dropped. You can see my letter on our website under 'Papers and Blogs'.
Bath City Forum (BCF)
The most recent BCF was held on 13th Nov. The minutes have not yet been published, but, from my notes:
• There were presentations on the Bath Quays (North) development, the Clean Air Zone and the recently acquired Community river boat (funded partly by money from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
• The CIL sub-committee recommended grants to Bath City Farm, Moorland Road Library, Widcombe subway, Student Community Partnership, Bath Carnival and Parade Gardens bandstand, but rejected one other application.
• The Forum discussed, once more, Community engagement and consultation. A working party is to be established, under the chairmanship of Cllr Paul Myers, Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, with representatives from all parishes as well as the BCF.
The next BCF meeting will take place on 10th Dec 18. It will feature a presentation on the Council's Budget, in association with Fora from 3 other areas.
The REC and Bath Rugby Stadium
I spoke at the last Committee, on 15th Oct, about Bath Rugby's (or, more accurately, Stadium for Bath) gearing up to submit their Planning Application for a new stadium, and the likelihood that (a) it will be much larger and higher than the existing one, not least because they propose to put a very large car park underneath it, and (b) they will need a temporary stadium for several years, and might seek to build it on the other half of the Rec, meaning, for this period, that none of the Rec would be a green, open field for recreation. Meanwhile, some manoeuvring has taken place between the various parties:
(a) from those opposed to any new stadium, claiming that we, the citizens of B&NES, are being steamrollered towards acceptance by the Local Planning Authority of the application for a very large stadium, without adequate public debate; contrary to the intentions of the original bequest; and to the enrichment of a large commercial organization (and warning of an inevitable Judicial Review); and
(b) from those who propose a new stadium, presenting lots of evolving concepts in various consultations, and wishing to clarify their version of the law, as it stands.
There is clearly a big struggle still to come, but, personally, I don't want to wake up in 10 years' time to find the entire Rec has been covered with buildings of one sort or another. You may wish to see a debate on all this held at a future FoBRA Committee once something useful to discuss emerges.
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) took place on 20th Nov 18. They were cordial, informed, attended by senior Officials and commendably lengthy. Essays on the following were submitted, and the asterisked items discussed:
(a) The National Planning Policy Framework and Housing
(b) Neighbourhood Plans
(c) Deliverability Targets for House Building*
(d) The Number Problem*
(f) The 'Broken Housing Market'*
(g) Short Term Letting and Party Houses*
(h) Public Comments on LPA Websites*
(i) Architectural Empathy*
I shall provide a link to the minutes when they are published. The atmosphere was the best I have experienced: the Officials seemingly finding the dialogue and the arguments helpful, and inviting greater engagement throughout the year. I led on Item (g), resulting in an invitation for further discussion with the specialist Official to see if progress could be made through Parliament. Support from MPs of affected constituencies would be needed, so I have already alerted our own Wera Hobhouse.
Party House Enforcement:
At long last, complaints about the undesirability of a Party House have resulted in a Council Enforcement Order to shut one down, from early Dec. A Council Press Statement will be made shortly, but what is interesting is that this has been issued not on the grounds of nuisance (though there was ample evidence), but because the Planners judged that the building's Use Category had been contravened.
Police Independent Advisory Group (IAG):
The last IAG was on 23rd Oct and took place at the Keynsham Custody and Charging Centre, in the presence of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). Kirstie circulated to members my report about this on 8th Nov. One of the items discussed was the effect homeless drug users are having on Bath's parks, and particularly Henrietta. I wrote to the Council Leader and the PCC supporting a letter from Henry Ford, Chairman of the Friends of Henrietta Park, complaining about this.
Housing Conference 9th Nov 18:
I attended this conference, which was arranged by Julian House and our MP, Wera Hobhouse. It concentrated on 'Homelessness'. I raised the problem caused by the rash of short term lettings (and HMOs) in Bath, removing from long term residential use as many dwellings as affordable homes being created, or more.
Cricket Club Judicial Review:
At our last Committee meeting we agreed to contribute £200 to BPT's appeal to launch a Judicial Review (JR) of the Council's decision to permit the Cricket Club's application to build student housing on its car park. JRs are notoriously expensive, so on 28th Nov, after concluding the first phase, and taking expert advice, BPT decided, with regret, to bring its efforts to a close. I shall ask Kirstie to circulate their statement. I propose not to seek to reclaim our money.
New Career Support Service:
The Council has announced a new career support service for local residents called Future Bright. It provides free, tailored support for eligible local people to make their careers more rewarding. It has supported over 60 residents already and has seen some great successes. To find out more, visit www.futurebright.org.uk , contact them via email@example.com or phone 01225 395555.
Julian House has appealed to help and report rough sleepers, via 0300 500 0914 or www.streetlink.org.uk .
The Bathscape Project has secured its first phases of funding, and is offering a post as a Volunteer Coordinator and Support Officer (paid). Details at 01225 477265 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Cycling and Walking:
The Government has issued its response to the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy: call for evidence. Anyone interested, please see me.
Robin Kerr, final, 29th Nov 18