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
stephen_bird@bathnes.gov.uk (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: http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/job-opportunities#sthash.HmotqrvM.dpuf

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.

Wonderland winner?

Wonderland winner?

A previous competition exhibitor.

A previous competition exhibitor. Click on images to enlarge.

To celebrate 150 years since the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, members of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s libraries are being invited to ‘reinvent’ an ex-library book on  a ‘wondreland’ theme.

The Recycled Book Art competition, now in its fourth year, aims to find the most creative reuse of an ex-library book. In previous years libraries have received up to 100 entries and the exhibition of completed pieces has been viewed by thousands of people each October in Bath Central Library and in a city centre shop window.

There are four categories in the competition: Under 12 years, 12-17, 18+ and Group. As in previous years these categories will be judged by public vote during the exhibition, which runs from September 5 to September 19. The prize giving will be held in Bath Central Library on October 10.

Previous competition winners.

Previous competition winners.

This year, for the first time, local artists are being invited to participate in the contest in a special “No Prize, Just Glory” category.

Artists entering this category will be given the opportunity to sell their entry while it is in the exhibition and include a short biography about their work as an artist.

If you would like to take part just visit any Bath and North East Somerset Library from May 23 and choose an ex library book and entry form.

You have until August 29 to remake that book into anything that celebrates “Wonderland”.

Another previous exhibit.

Another previous exhibit.

If you need some inspiration local libraries have a large collection of books about origami, paper cutting and upcycling available.

There is also a free, drop-in workshop on Friday May 29, at Bath Central Library.

Photos all our previous entries can be found on the libraries Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Bathneslibraries

To find out more visit http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/librarycompetition, email Recycled_BookCompetition@BATHNES.GOV.UK or call Council Connect on 01225 394041.

Keynsham mosaics display leave ‘something to be desired’.

Keynsham mosaics display leave ‘something to be desired’.

Anthony Beeson

Anthony Beeson

A review now of the display of mosaics that have been incorporated into Keynsham’s new Civic Centre from Bristol-based Anthony Beeson who is an acknowledged Classical iconographer and an expert on Roman and Greek art and architecture.

He is also the Honorary Archivist of the Association for Roman Archaeology and this review has been published in the latest edition of the ARA News. Anthony is a member of the Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics. He is a writer and former Art Librarian at Bristol City Libraries.

 ‘Keynsham’s new civic centre entitled the One Stop Shop opened. The building combines a number of civic services, from library to police, under one roof.
Keynsham, the town that lies between Bath and Bristol, has had a raw deal so far as its antiquities and the tourism that they would have generated are concerned. Its huge and architecturally outstanding Roman complex on Durley Hill was chosen as the site of a new cemetery in the 1920s.

The new One Stop Shop and library at Keynsham Civic Centre

The new One Stop Shop and library at Keynsham Civic Centre. Click on images to enlarge.

The obvious religious complex and the accompanying town believed to be Trajectus were first partly covered by Fry’s (later Cadbury’s) chocolate factory and, since the latter’s demise and following a controversial take-over, threatened by a plan for new housing on the site.
The remains of Keynsham’s great abbey were thoroughly dealt with by the construction of the town’s bypass in the 1960s. The Roman and medieval objects discovered rivalled anything displayed in either Bath or Bristol and should have generated enough civic pride in the town to have prompted a local museum.
The splendid mosaics found at Durley Hill were lifted and for many years were displayed as unrelated panels at the small museum founded at the gateway to Fry’s factory at Somerdale. In the 1980s this was closed and the mosaics and other antiquities went into long-term storage in the basement of the town hall.

The mosaic from room W as laid out in the Parish Church as part of Keynsham's millennium celebrations. The panels were still within frames at this time, but this was the first occasion when they had been placed into position since the 1920s. Photos: © Anthony Beeson.

The mosaic from room W as laid out in the Parish Church as part of Keynsham’s millennium celebrations. The panels were still within frames at this time, but
this was the first occasion when they had been placed into position since the 1920s.
Photos: © Anthony Beeson.

The late Charles Browne campaigned endlessly for their permanent display somewhere in the town, and at least managed a splendid show in the Parish Church in 2000 when the author and others had the delight of displaying the Durley Hill mosaics together in their original positions for the first time since their discovery (Beeson, 2001).
The mosaics and other finds then went back into obscurity, and were later moved to a warehouse in Pixash Lane that has become an archaeological store. It was with delight therefore that one heard the news that a proposed new civic centre was going to display the mosaics and other objects. This author visited the finished building in January with great expectations.
The spectacular mosaic from room W at the Durley Hill complex, previously divided into framed panels, has now been beautifully restored and the sections joined together. It occupies a sunken area between the library and community reception desks and is glazed over.
This is a controversial but currently popular way of dealing with mosaics. Glass and its supporting steel framework generally does nothing to enhance a mosaic beneath them. If the choice is there and floor space is lacking, a wall mounting is generally to be preferred.
The mosaic from room W as now displayed at Keynsham. The panels have been beautifully joined together giving one an idea of how the floor must have originally appeared. Care has been taken to position the steel structure above the joining guilloche strips. Neon lighting reflects in the glass. Photos: © Anthony Beeson.

The mosaic from room W as now displayed at Keynsham. The panels have been beautifully joined together giving one an idea of how the floor must have originally appeared. Care has been taken to position the steel structure above the joining guilloche strips. Neon lighting reflects in the glass.
Photos: © Anthony Beeson.

The steelwork at Keynsham does follow the shape of the guilloche framing of the panels in an attempt not to obscure the design too much and, on the whole, the display is better than it might have been.

Light reflection on the glass is also a problem with this type of display, and is unfortunately so at Keynsham as neon light strips have been placed on the ceiling over the floor.
Wonderful as it is to see the main pavement joined again, it is a pity that the building could not have been designed so that the mosaic could have been displayed better.
Unfortunately the remaining isolated panel with birds from the same floor is nowhere to be seen; it could have accompanied the beautiful rosette centre-piece from room J that is attached, slightly too high, to an otherwise blank staircase wall that overlooks the main pavement.
This rosette is one of the gems of mosaic work in its handling of colour and technique remaining to us from Roman Britain. An accompanying panel from this mosaic is unfortunately not

displayed with it.
Neither of the mosaics displayed has any museum labelling; there is a no-doubt expensive terminal that is supposed to inform the curious about them, but it was out of order when I visited. Someone had very kindly photocopied a leaflet about the mosaics, but the description of what was happening on the Achilles panel was muddled. One hopes that the information terminal provides a clearer description.

A view from the first floor of the One Stop Shop showing the distracting seating that has been placed overlapping the main panels of the mosaic from room W. Fortunately only two seats were occupied on this occasion. The great rosette from room J's mosaic may be seen on the staircase wall.

A view from the first floor of the One Stop Shop showing the distracting seating that has been placed overlapping the main panels of the mosaic from room W. Fortunately only two seats were occupied on this occasion. The great rosette from room J’s mosaic may be seen on the staircase wall.  Image © Anthony Beeson

What was particularly annoying with this new display, however, was the fact that someone (presumably the designer) had decided that it would be a great idea to place seating on three sides of the pavement, both blocking the central viewing area before the Europa panel and overlapping the edges of the mosaic.
Not only does one have to cope with reflected ceiling lighting and glass but also with people sitting with their legs and bags resting over the floor. No doubt this stems from some muddle-headed idea that it ‘brings the mosaic into the community’.
None of the library staff that I questioned had any idea who had made the decision to place the seating there. It is becoming depressingly commonplace in British museums, when reorganising and rebuilding such institutions, that designers’ and architects’ wishes override those of curatorial staff – when there are any.
Whilst one tried to view the glazed mosaic there appeared to be a permanent meeting of several people wearing name badges who successfully managed to obfuscate the Europa panel and made no attempt to move so that others might view it properly.
It really made this author wonder why so much money had been spent on displaying a national treasure only to allow it to be obscured so easily. I fortunately went at a quiet time, so one wonders what the experience would be if it had been busy.
The Roman window display of pottery and building materials from Keynsham sites

The Roman window display of pottery and building materials from Keynsham sites.  Image © Anthony Beeson

Windows at the One Stop Shop have been used as museum cases displaying minor stonework from the abbey and some pottery, tesserae and building materials from the Roman sites.

The cream of these collections, including a rare statue base dedicated to Silvanus, alas still remain in the store at Pixash Lane.
It is wonderful to have these mosaics finally on display, but what an opportunity to display Keynsham’s treasures properly has been missed.’
Bring back the park keeper!

Bring back the park keeper!

Flowers blooming in Parade Gardens.

Flowers blooming in Parade Gardens.

It turned out to be a busy Bank Holiday Monday but an hour was spent in Bath’s amazing Parade Gardens eating a packed lunch and enjoying the warm and sunny, late springtime buzz.

You cannot help but start people watching and l found myself getting more and more horrified by the number of families letting their youngsters chase gulls.

The adults chatted away in their deck chair camp circles while the little darlings were witnessed running after gulls, pigeons and even ducks that had foolishly wandered up off the river bank.

One little girl was desperately trying to kick a rather confused drake. The birds – of course – are attracted by all the human munching and doing what comes naturally when there is the chance of food.

The children – because no one bothered to say ‘hey, let’s not do that’ – were spurred on by each other – as kids will be – to see who could chase the fastest.

Oh how l miss the old park-keeper. Someone to cheerfully walk around and keep an eye on the place. To welcome people, help with deck chairs, point out where the 20-in-the-slot loos are hidden and how the picnic left-overs would be better put in a rubbish bin. Someone to gently help educate young park users of the future on how much more fun it is to chase each other.

The horrible electricity sub-station block in Parade Gardens.

The horrible electricity sub-station block in Parade Gardens.

Is this yet another job that would have to be filled by a volunteer? The city – as it is – seems only to function with their help.

Does 'temp' mean temporary?

Does ‘temp’ mean temporary?

While l was in Parade Gardens – and once again taking in the blob that is the electricity sub station – l noticed that part of the signage upon it include the word ‘temp’ and wondered if this really was short for temporary.

Virtual Museum readers have told me it’s reckoned it would cost £30,000 to shift this ‘blot on the floral landscape’ somewhere else.

The boarded up section beneath Grand Parade

The boarded up section beneath Grand Parade

I argued whether local artists might like to camouflage it in some way. That’s if health and safety restrictions will allow.

This time around l also noticed the boarded up colonnade that runs beneath the section of Grand Parade nearest Manvers Street and the old Bog Island Disco.

A blank canvas?

A blank canvas?

Another amazing canvas for local artists to embellish. I am not talking graffiti here – tagging is not an option – but if it’s a contemporary panorama of the city or a celebration of its arts and culture – go for it!

This is not to be read as the Virtual Museum urging anyone to daub anything without permission. Just an attempt to open a debate. Do we have a ‘People’s Assembly’ in this town. If not – we should!

Just before l finish – well done Parks Department staff on doing a great job here with limited funds.

Word in the West

Word in the West

Some of the UK’s most cutting-edge poets and spoken word artists will be performing at libraries across Bath and North East Somerset in May.

The Word in the West festival, which runs from May 26 – 30, is being organised by Bath & North East Somerset Council, in partnership with North Somerset and arts organisation BoomSatsuma, funded by Arts Council England.

keynsham new libraryThree libraries in Bath and North East Somerset are involved: Keynsham, Paulton and Midsomer Norton.

During the week they will be running free workshops and performances for children, young people and more established writers. They’ll also be working with the community to create a free-form poem on a wall of words in each library.

There will be:
Breakbeat sessions for 9-13-year-olds to create new pieces using beat boxing, words and music.
Use Your Word sessions for 14-18 year olds to create an original new piece of poetry or spoken word that could be entered in the national youth slam championships.
Sessions called The Surgery, for local writers and poets to work with the resident poets and share their work.

Finally on Saturday May 30, all the spoken word artists and poets will take to the streets to perform in bus queues, cafes and public spaces.

“The aim of the festival is to inspire a new generation of poets and spoken word artists, whilst offering support to more established local writers,” said Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Libraries Development Manager Julia Burton. “This is a tremendous opportunity not only to see outstanding modern poets perform, but also for young people to create new, original and inspiring works.”

Word in the West will be curated by Joelle Taylor (founder and Artistic Director of SLAMbassadors) and features nationally renowned poets Rebecca Tantony, Hussain Manawer and Vanessa Kisuule, Sally Jenkinson and Lucy Lepchani.

Events will run as follows:

Keynsham Library
Poet in residence, Vanessa Kisuule

Tuesday May 26
10.30am – 12 noon – Break Beat

Wednesday May 27
10am – 12 noon – The Surgery
2 – 4pm – Use Your Words

Thursday May 28
10.30am – 12noon – Break Beat

Friday May 29
1 – 2pm – Stand up lunch
A performance by the resident poets with a free lunch
7 – 9pm Performance by Burning Eye Books poets (14 to adult)

Paulton Library
Poet in residence, Lucy Lepchani

Tuesday May 26
10.30am – 12 noon – Break Beat

Wednesday May 27
2 – 4pm – Use Your Words

Thursday May 28
10.30am – 12 noon- Break Beat

Friday May 29
1 – 2pm – Stand up performance by resident poets

Midsomer Norton Library
Poet in residence, Rebecca Tantony

Tuesday May 26
7 – 9pm- Performance by Burning Eye Books poets (14 to adult)

Wednesday May 27
10.30am -12 noon – Break Beat

2 – 4pm – Use Your Words

Thursday May 28
2 – 5pm – The Surgery

Friday May 29
10.30am – 12 noon- storytelling for families with Somerset storyteller Michael Loader. (**This session needs to be booked at Midsomer Norton Library, or by contacting Council Connect on 01225 394041 / councilconnect@bathnes.gov.uk)

cid:image001.gif@01D072B1.6BE3BF503 – 4pm – Stand up performance by resident poets

You can find out more at http://www.wordinthewest.com, on Facebook (wordinthewest) and Twitter @wordinthewest

Ends

Notes to editors:

In North Somerset the sessions are running at The For All Healthy Living Centre in Weston Super Mare, and Yatton and Portishead libraries.