Reform, economies and putting residents first

Reform, economies and putting residents first

The new Conservative leadership of Bath & North East Somerset Council has set out its priorities for the next four years, with a promise to reform the way the local authority works and build a Council which ‘puts the interests of residents first’. That’s according to a statement the Conservative Group – who now control B&NES – have issued.

The Bath Guildhall

The Bath Guildhall

At the authority’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday, 21st May, the Council’s new  leader, Cllr Tim Warren, said that improving transport, investing in the local economy and getting finances back on track would all be at the top of the agenda for his new administration. He also reaffirmed his commitment to delivering on the promises made within the party’s local election manifesto, which included plans to improve local leisure facilities, deliver more affordable homes, and invest in the area’s transport infrastructure, all under a theme of ‘putting residents first’. Council Leader Tim Warren said: “We’ve got a big task ahead of us and we’re very humbled by the trust residents have put in us, but we’ve got a good team in place of talented individuals with fresh ideas and a clear vision for making our area an even better place to live. “With the Council’s new administration now officially appointed, we’re ready to roll-up our sleeves and get on with the job of delivering on the commitments made during the election – such as sorting out our area’s transport system and getting the Council’s finances in order. “There will be difficult decisions ahead, especially when it comes to finding the necessary budget savings within the Council, but B&NES is a great area with huge potential and I’m optimistic about what we can achieve in the next few years.” Explaining the approach the Conservatives will take to running the Council over the next four years, Councillor Warren added: “There’s one overriding theme running through everything we plan to do – and that’s ensuring the interests of residents always come first. Does this proposal truly serve the interests of local residents? That will be the litmus test we will apply to all decisions in the Council. “‘Residents first’ was on the front-page of our manifesto, and that is the approach we will take to running the Council over the next four years.” The Conservatives took control of B&NES Council at the local elections earlier this month, becoming the first political party since B&NES was created to gain an outright majority on the Council, with a total of 37 Councillors against the Lib Dems’ 15 seats and Labour’s 6 Councillors. A further 5 Councillors were also elected as independents. · The six key priorities set out by the new Conservative Cabinet: – Tackle wasteful spending – launching a ‘root and branch’ review of all Council spending to put the Council on a sure financial footing for the long-term; – Improve local transport – bringing forward plans for an East of Bath Park & Ride and developing long-term Transport Strategies for the Somer Valley and Keynsham; – Deliver more homes and jobs – investing in brownfield regeneration projects to deliver more affordable homes and good local jobs; – Invest in young people – delivering more primary school places and investing in facilities for children and young people; – Create cleaner, greener, healthier local communities – with investment in local leisure facilities and improvements to street cleaning and recycling; – Ensure greater choice and independence for older people – with investment in home adaptations for elderly and disabled residents and ensuring integrated health and social care services. Here’s the full list of appointments made at the annual meeting. The new Chairman of Council is Councillor Ian Gilchrist. The Vice-Chairman of Council is Councillor Alan Hale. There are 7 further Cabinet Members taking responsibility for specific service areas. These are: · Councillor Charles Gerrish (Conservative, Keynsham North) – Cabinet Member for Finance & Efficiency · Councillor Tony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown) – Cabinet Member for Transport · Councillor Michael Evans (Conservative, Midsomer Norton North) Cabinet Member for Children’s Services · Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North) – Cabinet Member for Community Services · Councillor Vic Pritchard (Conservative, Chew Valley South) – Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Health · Councillor Marie Longstaff (Conservative, Keynsham East) – Cabinet Member for Homes & Planning · Councillor Patrick Anketell Jones (Conservative, Lansdown) – Cabinet Member for Economic Development. In addition, there are 7 new roles of Cabinet Assistant. These Cabinet Assistants will not be full members of the Cabinet, but will be aligned to each Cabinet portfolio and will assist the Cabinet Members in their roles – taking on specific responsibilities and helping to ensure delivery within that portfolio. The Cabinet Assistants are: · Finance & Efficiency: Councillor Paul May (Conservative, Publow and Whitchurch) · Transport: Councillor Matt Cochrane (Conservative, Bathwick) · Children’s Services: Councillor Emma Dixon (Conservative, Saltford) · Community Services: Councillor Chris Pearce (Conservative, Kingsmead) · Adult Social Care & Health: Councillor Lisa O’Brien (Conservative, Keynsham South) · Homes & Planning: Councillor Bob Goodman (Conservative, Combe Down) · Economic Development: Councillor Mark Shelford (Conservative, Lyncombe). Note from VMB Director:  OK so Bath’s heritage comes under economic development but it amazes me that – despite so much income from the city’s World Heritage site ‘attractions’ – there is no Cabinet member appointed solely to look after all the  archaeological, architectural  and cultural money-spinners.

Trustees wanted for new Roman Baths Foundation

Trustees wanted for new Roman Baths Foundation

The Great Bath - part of the  Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

The Great Bath – part of the Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

Big changes are afoot at the city’s Roman Baths in an effort to attract more funding for conservation and education work.

They are being set up as a Foundation – a charitable company – which will also be able to promote all aspects of learning, access and study as an on-going advocate for the unique world-famous ancient site.

The Foundation is registered with Companies House and will shortly apply for charitable status with the Charity Commission.

Now it’s looking to appoint trustees to its Board. People who would bring skills, knowledge or experience in one or more of the following areas:
charity law
charity finance
history and interpretation of Bath / the Roman Baths
heritage sector fundraising
heritage sector learning
heritage sector conservation
membership organisations
networking and advocacy
marketing and PR

I am told that prior charity experience and availability to attend meetings in Bath will be advantageous. Board meetings will be held in Bath at quarterly intervals.

The first task for the Foundation will be supporting the development of the Archway Centre which will create a state-of-the-art Roman Baths Learning Centre and a much-needed World Heritage Visitor Centre in the heart of Bath.

The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.

The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.

If you are interested in becoming a trustee of the Roman Baths Foundation, you are asked to send an up-to-date CV and a letter setting out your suitability against these criteria to:

Stephen Bird, Company Secretary
The Roman Baths Foundation
c/o The Pump Room
Stall Street
Bath BA1 1LZ (link sends e-mail)
Trustees must be at least 18 years old and not disqualified by law from acting as charity trustees.
The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 29 May 2015.
– See more at:

Meeting Mr Bennet.

Meeting Mr Bennet.

For three years now l have been a member of the Mayor of Bath’s Honorary Corps of Guides – an organisation that has been active for the last 81 years in showing visitors to Bath around our lovely World Heritage city.

A very friendly group of Bath visitors meeting Martin on their Mayor's Guides trip this morning. Click on image to enlarge.

A very friendly group of Bath visitors meeting Martin on their Mayor’s Guides trip this morning. Click on image to enlarge.

I am humbled by other volunteer guides who have been doing this for up to forty years. It is a free service and we don’t even accept tips.

It’s a great way of connecting with our visitors. Bath welcomes around four and a half million a year – people who inject a fair bit of cash into our local economy.

This morning – Tuesday, May 18th – our party bumped into Martin – aka Mr Bennet – on duty outside the Jane Austen Centre. He makes all his own costumes and is reckoned to be the most photographed ‘street’ character in England.

Tomorrow he is off to a garden party at Buckingham Palace but has decided to wear a morning suit instead! More about the Mayor of Bath’s Honorary Corps via

Getting the balance right at Smallcombe

Getting the balance right at Smallcombe

As part of Smallcombe Garden Cemetery Conservation and Heritage Project, tree maintenance works will take place from May 26th for around five days.

Smallcombe Cemetery, Bath c.1880s - 1890s. © Bath in Time - Private Collection

Smallcombe Cemetery, Bath c.1880s – 1890s.
© Bath in Time – Private Collection. Click on image for more information.

Bath & North East Somerset Council will be cutting down to ground level some large laurels on the boundaries of Smallcombe and St Mary’s cemeteries to allow repairs to walls to take place and to reduce their dominance in the cemetery. It’s also hoped this will encourage species diversity.

“This type of work is usually carried out in the winter when the laurels would be dormant and also to avoid the bird nesting season,” said Denise Hart, tree officer with Bath & North East Somerset Council.

“However, because of the timings of the restoration project we need to do this work now. The laurels will be inspected for nesting birds before any work is carried out for and if any are found, we won’t go ahead in those areas. Laurels are not a desirable plant in the cemetery as they compete with other species that are more beneficial for wildlife.”

The Smallcombe Garden Cemetery Conservation and Heritage Project has been awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to support a two-year conservation project to ensure that a hidden social, historical and ecological gem doesn’t become lost to neglect and decay.

The project aims to restore walls, memorials and paths to a safe state; to improve access, also to allow the site discreetly to tell the story of Victorian and Edwardian Bath, a less well-known stage of the city’s development towards World Heritage status.

Smallcombe is a beautiful and largely forgotten valley cemetery with great wildlife diversity, within a 15 minute walk of the city centre and next to the National Trust Skyline Walk, so loved by locals and visitors alike.

Larkhall Carnival memories

Larkhall Carnival memories

The recent annual Larkhall Festival has brought back memories for one former resident.. The Virtual Museum was contacted by Mr Eddy Priest who lived in Larkhall from 1949 to 1970.

Newspaper cutting featuring the old Larkhall Carinval

Newspaper cutting featuring the old Larkhall Carnival. Click on images to enlarge.

He told me : “I remember the festivals we had there in the 50’s and 60’s – including the 1964 Carnival in which my wife of 45 years – then girlfriend Gill Brewer – was a beauty queen contestant. The roads were cordoned off from Camden right through the Square and up to the back fields where the contest was held.

It was a great social event organised partly by my old dad. Happy Days.’

Crowing the Queen of St Saviour's Church May Week Carnival.

Crowning the Queen of St Saviour’s Church May Week Carnival.

Eddy has sent in a couple of newspaper cuttings which l am sure will bring back memories for many people and he has asked our help with something he remembers his father telling him.

‘He explained to me that during the war an unexploded bomb dropped through the pavement under the old pub at the junction of St Saviours Way and St Saviours Road – opposite St Saviours Church.

He told me he was told off by the local ‘plod’ for peering down the hole made by the unexploded bomb.’

Trying to work out where this 'mystery' pub was. Here's a property with a blocked up door and front step still obvious beneath it?

Trying to work out where this ‘mystery’ pub was. Here’s a property with a blocked up door and front step still obvious beneath it?

I have been unable to find any history of the pub. When it opened or closed – and l am not even certain of the name but think it was ‘Queen’ something.

Can anyone help?’

Tracey Hill of Larkhall was quick to come through and confirm that there was a pub called The Queen in a property that is now a private house and opposite St Saviours Church.

It’s not the only vanished pub either. According to Tracey ‘even the Larkhall butchers shop used to be a pub.’

More than 6,000 visit Forest of Imagination

More than 6,000 visit Forest of Imagination


© adamcarterphoto  Click on images to enlarge!

Looks like the week-end’s contemporary arts event in Queen Square has been a great success.

Bath’s historic Queen Square became the home for a magical “Forest of Imagination” last weekend, put together by a team of local creative organisations in a free 4-day contemporary arts event for the City.



Forest of Imagination welcomed over 6,000 visitors who enjoyed chances to meet Dreamer, a 7.5 metre giant rabbit, play in a bamboo installation, make a forest book, assemble a giant monster from recycled materials, become Lost Explorers to discover the flora and fauna of the Forest with the House of Fairy tales and enjoy a series of talks on play and imagination.

On Monday 18 May 2015, over 200 school children from seven local schools took part in a series of workshops to support creativity across their curriculum.

Penny Hay, Director of Research, 5x5x5=creativity and Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University, said: “Engagement, playfulness, ingenuity, joy and laughter permeated the Forest of Imagination. It was a great display of our collective imagination showing the true power of creative collaboration.”





Andrew Grant, Director, Grant Associates, designer of the Forest of Imagination said: “We wanted to create a mini ‘Universe of Play’ with four distinctly different worlds and an atmosphere of fun. Over the weekend the Forest of Imagination exploded into an entire galaxy of delight. Ingredients of enormous and tiny, light and dark, living and dead, old and young, sun and cloud, colour and sound all contributed to the special ambience.”

Bath-based creative partners behind the Forest of Imagination included children’s charity 5x5x5=creativity, landscape architects Grant Associates, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, design studio Imaginnovation, Herman Miller Cares, Bath Spa University, Bath Illuminate, Carpenter Oak, and The House of Fairy Tales. Artists and designers involved in the event included Edwina Bridgeman, Jono Burgess, Jessica Palmer, Alison Harper, John East, Helen Lawrence, Matthew Leece and staff and students from Bath Spa University.

For more information visit

Work on rail crossing to Hampton Row.

Work on rail crossing to Hampton Row.

Preliminary work on Network Rail’s multi-billion pound electrification of the London to Bristol line is starting to be noticed in the Bath area.

The Hampton Row footbridge with attached notice!

The Hampton Row footbridge with attached notice! Click on images to enlarge.

People using the rather dilapidated pedestrian bridge linking the Kennet and Avon Canal footpath with Hampton Row will have noticed a posting!

Seems that in preparation for upgrading Hampton Row footbridge (they’re replacing it!) and lowering the track running beside the canal side retaining wall – so that overhead power lines can be installed – ‘we need to carry out investigation work on and around the structures.

We will fence off our work site before drilling a number of boreholes to the wall and boreholes behind the wall to the canal – as well as hand digging tranches.’

The open letter about the work.

The open letter about the work.

Work is due to take place from Saturday, May 16th and will take up to 15 days.

During this time Network Rail plan to work a picture of days – 8am to 6pm – and nights – 10 om to 6am.

‘We will access the footbridge from the canal towpath, via A36 Beckford Road, and vehicles will be parked off the towpath.

The equipment we use means some disturbance is unavoidable, but we will make every effort to minimise any unnecessary noise.’

It doesn’t say whether access to the footbridge will be affected so l will assume it will remain open!