Flying the Green Flag!

Flying the Green Flag!

Four local green spaces have been awarded Green Flag status, thanks to local communities working closely with Bath & North East Somerset Council.

The award, presented by the Keep Britain Tidy Group, is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK.

Plan of Keynsham Memorial Park.

Plan of Keynsham Memorial Park.

This year Keynsham Memorial Park; Silver Street Local Nature Reserve, Midsomer Norton; and Haycombe Cemetery and Royal Victoria Park in Bath have received the award.

Councillor David Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “It is excellent news that four green spaces managed by Bath & North East Somerset Council working with local communities have achieved the Green Flag once again.

“Our Parks Team also provides advice and support to local communities who want to look after their own green spaces and we are keen to work with communities who want to gain a Green Flag in future.”

Judges said they were impressed with the quality of Royal Victoria Park and how it is maintained as somewhere to relax, whilst still playing host to big events. They were impressed with long grass areas left for habitat and new tree and shrub planting, in keeping with the original plant list from the conception of the park.

Haycombe Cemetery is one of very few cemeteries to have received a Green Flag. The team working at the cemetery are always trying to improve the service they provide to the bereaved and say they are delighted that their work on the cemetery grounds has been recognised.

The success of Silver Street Local Nature Reserve is due to the beauty of the reserve and the dedicated efforts of a strong Friends Group which meets every week.victoria park

The Friends have installed a new pathway through the woods to the pond and also organises activities such as birdsong and bat identification walks. Local schools and nurseries are encouraged to visit the woods to hold outdoor lessons and learn about the wildlife in the woods and in the adjacent meadow. The Friends group is supported locally by the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust and the Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership.

Keynsham Memorial Park has lots of attractions including children’s play areas, a café, a picnic area and ball sports. There is also an ecological zone with a duck pond, a bug garden and the River Chew flowing through. Keynsham Town Council manages events at the bandstand and regular entertainment is provided throughout the summer. Keynsham Memorial Park is also the venue for the annual Keynsham Music Festival.

In 2014 Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Parks Team has created colourful new flower displays which have been welcomed by Keynsham residents and the Green Flag judges.

Find out more about the all local parks maintained by the Council at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/parks

Wartime memories feature in WW1 Bath civic event.

Wartime memories feature in WW1 Bath civic event.

The memories of nurses who served during the two world wars is to feature in a  World War One Centenary civic event in Bath.

To commemorate one hundred years since the declaration of World War One, on Monday August 4, Bath & North East Somerset Council is holding a civic event to remember the impact this conflict had on people in our local communities.

90-year-old Heather Mackay, a retired nurse living in Lansdown in Bath, who worked during the Second World War, will be taking part. She will be reading extracts written during the First World War by a nurse at Bath War Hospital, whose account mirrors Heather’s own experience of nursing at a time of conflict.

 Heather Mackay’s aunt’s photograph album from her time as a nurse during World War One at Royaumont in France.  Courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Heather Mackay’s aunt’s photograph album from her time as a nurse during World War One at Royaumont in France.
Courtesy of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Heather said: “I remember when prisoners of war were repatriated; my job at that time was to bed-bath the ones that couldn’t do anything for themselves. I was talking to a lad asked him where he was taken prisoner. He said ‘Arnhem, nurse’. I said my cousin was at Arnhem, he got the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) in the Air Force. I went down the ward a bit further and asked another chap where he was taken prisoner and he also said ‘Arnhem, nurse’.

I told him ‘there’s a fellow up there taken prisoner at Arnhem, I’ll find out his name for you’. They were buddies and they each thought the other had been killed. As soon as we quietened down, we moved their beds next to each other and they were just so thrilled to see each other again. It was wonderful.”

Heather has many personal connections to the First World War too, with various family members having served across the war years. Her aunt, Marjorie Chapman, was an auxiliary nurse working at Royaumont, a Scottish Women’s Hospital Unit set up by pioneering surgeon, Dr Elsie Inglis. The British War Office had refused Doctor Inglis’ offer of help with the words, ‘My good lady, go home, and sit still’. Dr Elsie Inglis did not sit still. Instead she began setting up units abroad, starting with Royaumont, at an abbey north of Paris.

‘Bath War Hospital’ watercolour by E. Horton, 1918 (Credit: Wellcome Library, London)

‘Bath War Hospital’ watercolour by E. Horton, 1918
(Credit: Wellcome Library, London)

Heather says of her aunt’s experience: “It was an old Abbey, and it was nothing but women; the doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers were all women. Apparently they sent them a couple of men to service the ambulances and they said ‘no thank you, no thank you, women only’. And you think of that in 1915, it was very advanced. They were amazing women, way ahead of their time. In fact, someone asked me if my aunt was a suffragette and I said no she wasn’t – she didn’t have to be because my grandfather let his daughters do what they wanted. He was ahead of his time.”

The World War One centenary civic event takes place from 6-7pm at Bath War Memorial in the Royal Victoria Park. It is free, and open to everyone to come together in a shared act of remembrance, to mark the centenary through music, readings, and poetry from people from across the district. Contributions by local young people – who have been writing about the 1914-18 War – will also feature, and it will start with a parade by local cadets.

A commemorative wreath will be laid by the Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council and The Mayor of Bath.

Councillor Martin Veal, the Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We will gather together 100 years to the day when war was declared. As the years pass it is even more important to tell the stories of the First World War so that each generation learns from history and understands about the impact the War had on everyone – young and old; female and male; those left at home, as well as those who went to the battlefields.”

Councillor Cherry Beath, The Mayor of Bath said: “This free civic event will help us understand how our local citizens were affected by, and reacted to the War. It is fascinating to hear about the work of nurses at Bath War Hospital in Combe Park, where the horrors of the trenches could be witnessed on our doorstep. At this event we honour and remember the contribution of local people during the War years.”

For further information about the World War One Centenary Civic Event please contact the event organiser Jasmine Loveys: jasmineloveys@gmail.com or 07984022426

Honouring our volunteers!

Honouring our volunteers!

The Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Councillor Martin Veal has launched his Community Awards and has plans to make a Special Award to one of the nominations received.

Cllr Martin Veal, Chairman of B&NES

Cllr Martin Veal, Chairman of B&NES

The aim of the awards are to recognise volunteers, community leaders, community organisations and local businesses who work tirelessly in the community to make a positive difference. The Awards highlight the contributions made by local people, their efforts to involve others and impact they make on their communities.

The Awards are organised annually in partnership with, the Volunteer Centre Bath and North East Somerset, social housing provider CURO, and the Student Community Partnership. Last year, there were 114 nominations.

Cllr Martin Veal, Chairman of Council, said: “I am delighted to be hosting the Community Awards this year, along with our partners the Volunteer Centre, Curo and the Student Community Partnership. It is important that we recognise the contributions made by such fantastic people who work tirelessly for the benefit of others. I hope as many people can take the time to nominate for an award as possible.”

Cllr Paul Crossley (Lib Dem, Southdown), Leader of the Council and Chair of the Student Community Partnership, said: “Young people’s efforts are often overlooked and it is important that we have the opportunity to recognise the contribution they make in the local community.”

Vanessa Collier, Community Engagement Manager at CURO, said: “Many of our tenants are key volunteer leaders who play an important role in their local community every day. We are hoping to see lots of nominations arriving from CURO residents, and we are delighted to be able to support the awards again this year.”

Mike Plows, Manager of the Volunteer Centre Bath & North East Somerset, said: “We are honoured once again to be a partner for these awards which allow everyone to recognise and celebrate the fantastic voluntary contribution of both teams and individuals in our communities. We are keen increase the nominations for local businesses who often work behind the scenes for their local community without any recognition.”
The award categories are:

Category 1 – Volunteering Awards

· Volunteer of the Year / Young Volunteer of the Year
· Volunteer Leader of the Year / Young Volunteer Leader of the Year
· Volunteer Team or Organisation of the Year/ Young Volunteer Team or Organisation of the Year
· Good Neighbour of the Year / Neighbourhood Team of the Year
· Lifetime Achievement

Category 2 – Business in the Community Award

· This Award will recognise a socially responsible business which actively supports its local community in positive activities.

The Award categories differ from previous years. The key change is that the Education Award will take place separately rather than as part of the Community Awards.

The Chairman will presenting at ‘Special Award’ to an individual who has improved the lives of those around them through their voluntary efforts in the local community, neighbourhood, church or local organisation. The Chairman will choose a winner of this award from all the nominations received.

How to nominate

The full details about the criteria for nominating people or organisations and nomination forms are available from the Council:

· Website: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/chairmanawards

· By email to: Sara_banks@bathnes.gov.uk

· In writing to: Sara Banks, Policy & Partnerships, Bath & North East Somerset Council, Lewis House, Manvers Street, Bath, BA1 1JG.

Civic event to mark start of World War One

Civic event to mark start of World War One

People are invited to attend a civic memorial event organised by Bath & North East Somerset Council this August to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.

Bath War Memorial

Bath War Memorial

The event takes place on Monday August 4, from 6pm-7pm at the war memorial by the main entrance to Royal Victoria Park near Queen Square. It is free and open to all.

It is just one of a number of events organised by Bath & North East Somerset Council to mark the anniversary.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “This will be a poignant and respectful occasion to mark this date.

“During the first six months of the war, one third of all the men in the area between the ages of 18 and 30 had enlisted with the services. The first Bath casualty came within just two days of the declaration of war.

“I look forward to welcoming residents to the civic event at the war memorial.”

The event will feature several readings, including the words of the Mayor of Bath in August 1914 encouraging local residents not to hesitate to do their duty.

For further information about the World War One Centenary civic event please contact event organiser Jasmine Loveys: jasmineloveys@gmail.com or 07984 022426.

Government urged to protect Bath’s thermal waters from fracking

Government urged to protect Bath’s thermal waters from fracking

The Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council has called on the Coalition Government to protect Bath’s natural Hot Springs from potential hydro fracturing in outlying areas.

The Great Roman Bath

The Great Roman Bath

Hydro fracturing – commonly known as ‘fracking’ – is the investigation underground of sources of gas by drilling a bore hole and obtaining data from either explosives or pumping water down the cavity. The Department of Energy & Climate Change had issued four Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs) for fracking for areas around Bath. Three of these have been relinquished but the fourth has been extended for a further year. Councillor Paul Crossley has written to Energy Minister, Michael Fallon MP, to express the Council’s deep concerns about the process and the possible damage to the supply of water to Bath Hot Springs and the impact on Bath’s major tourist attraction. He urged the Government to review its decision to grant a one-year extension to potentially explore and extract unconventional gas.

Cllr Paul Crossley Leader, B&NES

Cllr Paul Crossley
Leader, B&NES

Cllr Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), Leader of Council, said: “The springs are the life blood of this city, which is cherished worldwide. In economic terms, the city and region rely heavily on a tourist industry which is worth an estimated £380m annually to Bath alone and which employs 10,000 people Independent research carried out by the British Geological Survey has concluded that extraction of unconventional gas within the zone of influence of the Hot Springs of Bath has the potential to damage the delicate fracture-led delivery system of the hot water. In his letter, Cllr Crossley said: “The United Kingdom’s only natural Hot Springs emerge in the heart of the World Heritage City of Bath. The UK Government committed to protect and conserve these sites for this and future generations.” He added: “We strongly welcome the actions to relinquish three of the four licences and call upon the 4th licence holder to also relinquish their licence to frack in the areas that might affect the Hot springs. “I am also very concerned to learn that the relinquished licences will be made available again in the 14th round licence offer, as and when this is made. This once again invites companies to potentially explore and extract unconventional gas within the zone of influence of the Hot Springs. Our strong request is that these licence areas and others within the zone of influence are withheld from future licensing rounds.”

The King's Bath or Sacred Spring - fed by three-quarters of a million litres of natural water a day.

The King’s Bath or Sacred Spring – fed by three-quarters of a million litres of natural water a day.

Cllr Crossley’s letter concluded: “I would stress that Bath & North East Somerset Council is not politically opposed to the concept of shale gas extraction. Our concern is wholly focussed on the potential damage to the Hot Springs and is backed by research findings. “As such, we are not asking that Bath is made an exception in policy terms, but rather that a policy of pursuing shale gas extraction in appropriate areas recognises that for technical reasons it is wholly inappropriate to issue licences within the Bath Hot Springs catchment area.” Cllr Crossley has sent copies of his letter to the Department of Energy & Climate Change, the Leaders and Chief Executives of Mendip District Council and Somerset County Council and local MPs. Director’s notes: · Bath & North East Somerset Council is concerned that the process of fracking will result in the water courses leading to the natural Hot Springs being contaminated with pollutants from this process, or for the waters to adopt a different direction of travel through new fractures in the underlying rocks. · The Council has apparently obtained the very best expert advice on this matter and there is little to suggest that any thought has been given to the potential for damage to the deep water sources that supply the Hot Springs in Bath. ·  B&NES believes exposing the Bath Hot Springs to risk through the avoidable action of the issue of PEDL licences would appear to be in direct contradiction of the UK’s commitment to the 1972 World Heritage Convention.

When the River Avon froze over

When the River Avon froze over

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s archives team has discovered a Bath clergyman’s weather diary written around 250 years ago.

The 18th century weather diary Photo:  Freia Turland

The 18th century weather diary
Photo: Freia Turland

The small parchment notebook filled with tiny writing meticulously describes Bath weather every day for six years between 1756 and 1761. It shows that extremes of weather were not unusual: “17 December 1759. A sharp north east wind which has frozen the river so hard the people have walked over it in great numbers for 3 days past”.

This diary was kept by the Reverend Duel Taylor, Rector of Bath, and was found amongst the papers of Bath’s town clerks.

The weather diary at Bath Records Office Photo: Friea Turland

The weather diary at Bath Record Office
Photo: Freia Turland

It was discovered as part of an archives cataloguing project now underway at the Council’s Record Office – Bath, Water and World Heritage: the City Records from the 12th to the 21st centuries.

The project has been made possible thanks to £47,000 of external funding won from The National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives by the Record Office team.

The project, which started earlier this year, will enable archivists to catalogue Council records from the 12th to the 21st centuries for the first time.

The Project Archivists are Hannah Little, Lucy Powell and Rosemary Boyns. Hannah is currently recruiting volunteers to help with the project and maximise the amount of information that can be recorded.

If you would like to find out more about getting involved, please contact Bath Record Office at: archives@bathnes.gov.uk, telephone 01225 477421.

The 18th century weather diary Photo:  Freia Turland

Closer look at one of the entries.
Photo: Freia Turland

Cllr Ben Stevens, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development (LibDem, Widcombe) said: “We have always known we hold a wonderful collection of documents dating back to 1189, but have never had the opportunity to look at every single item before.

“This discovery of weather records is just one of many resulting from the detailed survey now made possible by the new funding. We’re rightly proud of our archives and details like these vastly enrich our understanding of our shared heritage as a city.”

The archivists’ work will create an online catalogue of the council’s historic collection which will be made available next year.

For more information visit the Bath Record Office website at http://www.batharchives.co.uk.

Bath Chinese tourist boost expected

Bath Chinese tourist boost expected

Bath & North East Somerset Council is expecting a relaxation of visa applications for Chinese tourists will boost tourism in Bath.

From the autumn, Chinese visitors to the UK and Ireland will be able to use a single visitor visa without requiring a separate visa to travel to each of these two countries.

Abbey Church Yard

Abbey Church Yard

Bath, and the Roman Baths in particular, is one of the most popular attractions for Chinese tourists in Britain, according to Visit Britain. The Roman Baths attracted 71,000 Mandarin-speaking visitors in 2013.

According to new research from Barclays, working in partnership with Visit Britain, the South West is the preferred destination for Chinese tourists. Between 2014 and 2017, the biggest growth will be in spending by visitors from China, the United Arab Emirates and Russia, according to the research. It predicts that Chinese spend will increase by 84% from 2013 levels, reaching £1bn per annum in 2017 in a total market of £27bn, and that Chinese spending could reach £1bn per annum by 2017, making up almost 4% of the total market.

Cllr Paul Crossley, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “With these predictions it is obvious that Chinese tourists are going to become even more important to Bath. We must make sure that we work together with local tourism businesses to encourage this and to make sure that we cater properly for this market. The Council-run museums are leading the way in this and we hope that this will help to make it easy for other tourism organisations to provide Chinese-friendly services for visitors.”