Leader Meeting 11th Feb 19:
Nick and I met Cllr Tim Warren on 11th Feb. He was accompanied by Cllrs Bob Goodman, Cabinet Member for Development and Neighbourhoods, and Mark Shelford, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment. We discussed the following subjects:
Clean Air Zone
Bath Transport Strategy
Car park proposed under stadium pitch
Parking in Lower Lansdown
Central area visitor permits
Local Plan revision
Move of Post Office
Short term lettings, including Party Houses
HMO Art 4 Direction SPD
Elections in May
If a member would like me to expand on any of these, please say.
Bath City Forum (BCF) 28th Jan 19:
The most recent BCF was held on 28th Jan. I was unable to attend, but the Minutes show:
• Avon Fire & Rescue has brought a new river rescue boat into the Bath area which will be permanently berthed near Pulteney Weir.
• Police Ch Insp Steve Kendall gave an overview of recent crime statistics. Nationally the picture shows crime has increased 7% year on year overall; in Bath however the overall rate shows a decrease of 2%. There is no room for complacency but Bath does remain a safe place to live. A number of Police Visibility improvements have been implemented:
o Recruitment of additional PSCOs
o Staff being issued hi-spec laptops that make working at community locations much easier.
o A police vehicle parking bay on Bath High Street by the Guildhall.
o Electric Bikes.
o Disruptive Effects allied to counter terrorism.
o Targeted foot patrols.
Central Bath continues to have a public enquiry counter situated in the One Stop shop, Manvers Street. Signage to be improved. B&NES has one of the highest levels of public counter access points in UK. The police 24/7 response office is based off Midland Road and there is work in progress for an alternative location. Other Officers spoke about 'County Lines' and Neighbourhood Policing.
• Community Forum consultation.
• HMO Licensing: to create a comprehensive register and ensure proper standards for tenants.
• Neighbourhood CIL: I attended the preliminary vetting meeting for this. The following were recommended for funding: Bathwick towpath, Ki Active Health, and Benches in Queen Square.
National Organization of Residents' Associations (NORA):
NORA's Chairman spoke on 26th Feb at a Higher Education conference in London on "the place of student accommodation within communities: improving community cohesion, creating a positive local experience and addressing concerns regarding the impact of students." I drafted her speech, which you can find at http://www.bathresidents.org.uk/cms/uploads/westminster-higher-education-forum-keynote-seminar-nora-speech-final-dated-14-jan-19.pdf.
I took part in a meeting with the Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) in London on 8th March, as recommended by MHCLG, to try to agree a way ahead with STAA to counter undesirable aspects of short term letting, such as 'hollowing out' of cities, including Bath. Its conclusions will be discussed with the Chief Planner on 16th April.
Further to the report on the 28th Jan BCF (see above), you will have seen last month the first quarterly Newsletter from their Neighbourhood Policing team. Interestingly, when I attended the Chief Constable's annual roadshow on 4th March, he said Avon & Somerset was one of the few Forces still to have Neighbourhood Officers, so be thankful for that! The recently approved rise in precept has given police finances a small surplus this year, allowing recruitment of Officers to restart, at last, and reinforcing the Force's growing reputation for intelligent use of new technology, such as body-worn cameras. I asked a question about reinstatement of a public-facing police station in Bath, and received a holding answer from the Police & Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens. Three days later the Council and the Police jointly announced that part of Lewis House will be adapted to house the Neighbourhood Policing Team, alongside the existing Police enquiries desk.
FoBRA Executive Meeting 14th Feb 19:
The Executive met on 14th Feb. It discussed:
• Preparations for the AGM.
• Procedure for new members – need to refresh this.
• The need to remind members about the "number at the table" rule for Committee meetings.
• FoBRA Priorities (see below).
• Pre Committee meeting coffee/tea.
• Online banking.
• Website procedures
We usually review our top priorities biennially. Two years ago we agreed the following (with the link to our latest Position Paper on each):
• Traffic and Air Pollution http://www.bathresidents.org.uk/fobra-priorities.php?Traffic-and-Air-Pollution-4
• Planning and Development Management http://www.bathresidents.org.uk/fobra-priorities.php?Planning-and-Development-Management-3
• Engagement http://www.bathresidents.org.uk/fobra-priorities.php?Engagement-2
• Housing http://www.bathresidents.org.uk/fobra-priorities.php?Housing-1
I shall ask you at the next Committee meeting on 14th March how we might take this forward.
B&NES and the Environment:
B&NES Council, in common with many others, is considering declaring a climate emergency and committing its activities to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Those who wish to support (or oppose) the motion can do so either by signing a petition (https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/climate-emergency-petition-to-bath-and-north-east-somerset-council.html) or by writing to their Councillor.
Another environmental move that the Council took two years ago was to ban the release of Chinese Lanterns and helium balloons from Council land as these can cause forest/grassland fires, and can kill marine bird and fish life, respectively. (Because the bits of rubber debris, after they explode and fall into the sea, are attractive for birds and fish to eat, as they resemble jellyfish or squid, with fatal results.)
FoBRA Subject Leads and Representatives:
I have asked Kirstie to circulate the latest update of our Subject Leads and Representatives paper. If anyone has comments on it, would like to join one of the groups, or would like to offer expertise, please say.
B&NES commissioned a consultancy company (Hotel Solutions) to update the Visitor Accommodation Study in Nov 18. This is now available and is full of fascinating information (eg on short term letting).
Nigel Booth, a barrister, has published his second book on demystifying legal processes. This one is on Licensing, and I have a copy if anyone would like to read or refer to it.
Developing Health and Independence (DHI):
Many of you will know about DHI's wonderful work. It is celebrating its 20th birthday this year with a Vision Project. Visit https://www.dhi-online.org.uk/about-us/news/celebrating-20-years-of-dhi-the-vision-project to find out more.
Robin Kerr, final, 9th Mar 19