Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Christmas Market Proposals

The start of both the Footprint and Archway projects this year means that the Christmas Market with have to move off its traditional footprint.

Their are two proposal on the table at the moment:

One is to move a sizable part of the market to Milsom Street which would be closed for the duration of the market and some days either side. This will:

  • bring considerably more nuisance and inconvenience to town centre residents particularly those living on Milsom Street
  • take out of operation a large number of city centre parking spaces several of which are residents only
  • disrupt deliveries and collections from Broad Street and Milsom Street businesses
  • create more traffic chaos in George Street and the rat runs north of George Street for the entire duration of the market
The other proposal is to move the entire market to the Royal Avenue and the area around the Bandstand. This would reduce the nuisance and disruption caused by squeezing the event into the restrictive and heavily used city centre spaces and put the event in a space where it can be redesigned as a 21st century event and where it will impact relatively few residents.

We just hope that this time BANES will put the best interests of city centre residents at the forefront of their decision making.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

BANES consultations designed to disappoint?

We have commented before on the generally poor quality of BANES consultation processes.

Three recent examples have added to our concerns:

The Parking Strategy was based on what was finally a very good consultation process after a very poor initial effort and raised expectations that the parking strategy would be a comprehensive attempt to address the very many issues in this area. The outcome was disappointing as the resulting strategy largely ignored all the more difficult and contentious issues raised and focussed on a minor rearrangement of charging policy.

With the coach strategy there was a fair attempt at consulting although it seems to use a very limited sample of consultees but again the results are very disappointing and mainly focussed on issues raised by coach operators with little or no attempt to engage with more difficult issues such as pollution, enforcement and controlling coach cruising around key heritage sites that bring no economic benefit to the city or the relationship with other plans such as the destination strategy.

The library/one stop shop consultation which after a very poor start, which disappointed almost all stakeholder and led to some questionable decisions being made, now seems intent on setting the future project up to disappoint further. Consultees are being invited to make any proposal they like and being led to believe that all proposal have an equal chance of being considered for inclusion in the final project. This cannot be the case. Several proposals are not compatible and represent completely different vision of the role of libraries in the community. All proposal will have to fit in the existing space as the is little room for expansion at the Podium and the architects have already, in our view unwisely, committed to retain the same number of books available for browsing. It will also be the case that all proposals will have to fit within what is unlikely to be a generous budget.

Monday, 18 December 2017

The loss of Avon Street carpark

Air pollution in almost all the City Centre areas covered by TARA is above the safe health levels set by the world health organisation and adopted by the British Government.

We are pressing BANES implement its Air Quality Management Plan with much greater urgency.

The reduction of NOx and small particulates needs to be set as a key objective of any strategy. There needs to be more monitoring of small particulate pollution in the city centre canyons such as Broad Street where there is residential housing.

Any strategy needs to be based on realistic assumptions and well researched forecasting rather than wishful thinking about technological progress and radical changes in peoples’ behaviour.

For Bath to remain a vibrant and successful city we need people to come into the city centre and for the foreseeable future a large number of those journeys will be made by diesel and petrol driven vehicles. This is particularly true in the light of the failure to implement the previous transport strategy.

These vehicle journeys need to be managed better. People need to be encouraged to park out of town if possible and this requires the provision of good park and ride facilities near all the approach routes of the city. These need to be accessible to people when they need them so consideration needs to be given to extending the hours of operation.

Goods vehicles should wherever possible be incentivised to use out of city freight consolidation hubs.

Low emissions zoning can play a role in increasing the rate of uptake of both out of town parking and less polluting technology.

However, for the foreseeable future many people will, for a variety of reasons, continue to drive into the city centre and they need to be directed as efficiently as possible to adequate off street parking so that they do not circle the city’s streets adding to pollution by the sort of stop start driving this inevitably involves.

The loss of off street parking through the demolition of Avon Street multi-story will make together with the failure to provide proper park and ride provision to the east of Bath will make the situation considerably worse and is likely to substantially drive up pollution levels in the short term.

Urgent consideration needs to be given to replacing the Avon Street provision.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The need for less planning and debating and more actions and results

The council recently published the final draft of the Bath Destination Plan. It contains the following paragraph.

"Bath and North East Somerset has built an enviable reputation for presenting major high profile events over the last 4 years, with a vision to be internationally renowned as a “beautifully inventive” entrepreneurial 21st century place with a strong social purpose and a spirit of well-being, where everyone is invited to think big – a ‘connected’ area ready to create an extraordinary legacy future generations"

This is a classic example of the sort of grandiose and almost meaningless goals which can be found in too many strategies produced by public agencies in Bath and being proposed by political parties and pressure groups.

It also contains numerous examples of the other kind of objective which is found all too frequently in Bath strategies, vision statements and plans. These are objectives for which there is no funding or resourcing and no realistic prospect of any funding or resourcing. Until recently the classic example of this was to be found in the air quality management plan.

We also have plans that will not survive the next round of elections because they are long-term in their nature but have no real cross-party by in the classic example being transport strategies, parking strategies and public realm management plans.

If we add to this the numerous forums, steering groups and scrutiny panels which produce  reports and analyses which will make little or no difference to the way in which plans are implemented in a world of shrinking government finance and will probably merely serve the political point scoring competitions which seem to be the preoccupation of many of our political representatives.

What all the above have in common is that they absorb huge amounts of officer time. This is officer time which could be spent addressing issues and practical problems raised on a daily basis by concerned residents or enforcing some of the existing rules and regulations or even trying to implement some of the old plans.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Community Safety

We recently attended the Communities Transport and Environment Panel scrutiny day looking  into community safety.

The day involved a variety of presentations which provided attendees with an opportunity to understand the national, regional and local perspective of community safety.

Speakers included; Cllr Anita Lower, Deputy Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, the Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, the leader of Bath & North East Somerset’s Council Tim Warren, members of Youth Justice Service and Lucy Lord the Director, of Business Development & Communications of Women’s Aid who provided an insight into how Social Impact Bonds work.

Workshop sessions were held during the afternoon where and we chose to focus on the key city centre issue of Street Communities this was an opportunity to discuss some of the key concerns of residents with many of the key agencies involved.

Key topics addressed were:
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Prevent
  • Modern Slavery and People Trafficking, Facilitated by Jessica Wilde Anti-Slavery
  • Street Communities
  • The implications of mainstream funding for Community Safety has reduced by at least 60% since 2010.
  • The increase in complex crimes, such as child exploitation, and modern slavery, making multi agency work even more important.
  • The increasing need for agencies to shared priorities and responsibilities.
As a follow up to this meeting it has been agreed that the next meeting of the Responsible Authorities Group which coordinated the work of all agencies that have legal responsibility for these issues will include an agenda item where we can be updated on progress with creating better inter-agency working and provide an opportunity for us to explore residents community safety concerns in more detail.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Request for help cleaning

We have requested that BANES arrange a one-off clean up in the area between the river wall and the Waitrose service road in the city centre.  Local members have for many years done a weekly clean-up in this area which is used by the Genesis Trust's daily soup kitchen. 

The Trust does its best to keep things as tidy as possible but the accumulation of litter in recent weeks has exceeded our capacity to cope with it. 

This is mainly due to fly tipping of heavy objects and the use of the area as a litter dump and toilet by taxi drivers parked (illegally) on the road while awaiting fares.

If the council could arrange a one-off clean up in this relatively small area we could continue with our work.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Response to New Premises licence application at 66 WALCOT STREET

There are currently twenty three apartments at The Tramshed  immediately behind the above referenced premises.  They are occupied by households of all ages including children.  The building is currently under development to replace the former restaurant on the ground floor with a furniture store together with a further eighteen apartments on floors above.

Businesses operating at this address have previously held licenses as had the restaurant that preceded the furniture store referred to above.  We contend, however, that the hours requested by the applicant on this occasion which would extend the permitted sale of alcohol on and off the premises until 2.00 am Monday to Saturday and commencing at 7.00 am on Sunday are entirely inappropriate in a location of this sensitivity.  Compared with peer cities Bath has an unusually large proportion of its residents who have chosen to live in the city centre.  The existence of open drinking areas of the kind apparently proposed by the applicant and the noise emanating from the entrances and exits of licensed premises are among the commonest complaints that TARA receives from its members. The applicant has, moreover, apparently ignored Bath’s Cumulative Impact Policy which requires him to demonstrate that he is aware of the possible impact of his proposals on the surrounding area and that they will not adversely affect the city’s Licensing Objectives.  So far as we are aware no applicant has been granted hours this late since the Cumulative Impact Policy was introduced in 2007. 

We therefor request in accordance with the council’s Licensing Objectives 3, the Prevention of Public Nuisance, and 4, the Protection of Children from Harm, that the application as it stands be REFUSED. 

If, however, the council is minded to approve the application we ask that conditions be imposed as follows

·         That alcohol be sold solely in conjunction with menu-based food.

·         That no food or alcohol be sold for consumption off the premises.

·         That the sale and consumption of alcohol commence no earlier than 09.00 seven days a week and cease no later than 23.00 hours Monday to Saturday and 22.00 hours Sunday.

·         That the sale and consumption of alcohol and all licensable activities cease in the rear courtyard at 22.00 hours nightly rather than at 23.00 hours as we understand has been suggested by the applicant.

·         That customers enter and leave the premises only by the front (Walcot Street) entrance and that the rear entrance be used solely as a service entrance, staff entrance if necessary and fire exit.

·         That customers are prevented from gathering for drinking and smoking at the rear of the building.