National Libraries Day

National Libraries Day

Bath & North East Somerset Council will be marking National Libraries Day on Saturday February 7.

Local libraries will be running a Find the Book Character Treasure Hunt for children and a literary quiz for adults – sheets will be available at all local libraries.

Bath Central Library

Bath Central Library

Library visitors will also be able to rent DVDs at half price, and reserve two items on the LibrariesWest catalogue free of charge. Those who borrow at least three physical items (books, CDs, audio books, and DVDs) or join online at http://www.librarieswest.org.uk will also be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win a Samsung Galaxy tablet, a £25 Amazon voucher and a range of bestselling books.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Cllr David Dixon, said: “National Libraries Day is a great day to celebrate everything our libraries can offer. The Council runs eight libraries and a mobile service and also supports four community libraries.”

Bath Central Library

Bath Central Library

Library members can benefit from a whole range of services including:
· Borrowing books, CDs, audio books, and DVDs.
· Online, there are free e-books and audio downloads as well as reference works, family history research material and more.
· Support for children and families including Bookstart packs, baby rhyme times and loans to pre-school groups.
· Information, advice, and courses for adult learners.
· Community activities including reading groups, writing competitions and After Hours events.

To find out more about the range of services provided by Bath & North East Somerset Council libraries visit http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/libraries-and-archives

Flushed with success!

Flushed with success!

Bath & North East Somerset Council is moving into the final stages of the plans to improve public toilets across the district.

Refurbishment works have started today (19 January) at the Royal Victoria Park play area, with Newbridge Park & Ride and Henrietta Park to follow in the next few weeks.

toilet-signNew toilets have already been completed at: Seven Dials, Monmouth Street; Odd Down Park & Ride; Sandpits play area at Monksdale Road; Alice Park; Keynsham Memorial Park; Charlotte Street car park; Parade Gardens; Sydney Gardens; Alexandra Park and at The Shallows in Saltford.

The Council’s contract with Healthmatic Ltd will provide investment in cleaning and management services for 15 years, and means that 15 public toilets in parks, play areas, green spaces and key transport hubs will remain open and be improved, and a brand new facility as part of the Newbridge Park and Ride expansion project.

Cllr David Dixon (Lib Dem, Oldfield), Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Our commitment to improving the quality of public toilets across Bath and North East Somerset is delivering increased benefits to our public spaces.

More and more people keep telling me how happy they are to have modern clean toilets which are much better to use.”

The new public toilets will have many benefits for local people, including:

• Cubicles will be unisex, disability compliant and will have baby-change facilities
• The cubicles offer a high standard of cleanliness and safety and are able to handle large numbers of people using them
• They are large enough for a parent with a couple of small children and a pushchair to use together
• High-tech controls means access can be 24 hours / 7 days a week all year and timers can be adjusted remotely to suit local need as well
• Access is by coin entry to a totally private cubicle with its own hand-washing and drying facilities
• The inside is resistant to vandalism and misuse with an easy-clean tiled interior and hard-wearing fittings
• Problems are detected remotely enabling rapid response by Healthmatic’s engineering and maintenance teams.

All of the refurbished facilities will be charged at 20p for use, in order to make the contract sustainable over the next 15 years.

A round-up of the other locations is:

• Riverside Coach Park toilets are being cleaned and managed by Healthmatic on a normal basis, pending progress with redevelopment of that part of the Enterprise Area;
• The current auto-loos at Charlotte Street and Shaftesbury Road are continuing in operation until at least 2020;
• Temporary cleaning, locking and repairs by Healthmatic continues at Gullock Tyning, Midsomer Norton (until mid-2015 when the leisure contract is awarded with public convenience provision included);
• At Ashton Way, Keynsham, the toilets are now closed as the new Council development and car park at Market Walk is fully open;
• We are continuing to work with local businesses in High Street, Weston and Larkhall Square on innovative arrangements to provide a public toilet service together; these should be in place in January and April respectively
• Paulton Parish Council have worked with the Council to take over fully running the public conveniences on a 15 year agreement (with effect from last July, 2014);
• The Council is continuing to work with Batheaston Parish Council over the public toilets building in London Road car park in support of their Vision Plan;
• Former locations at Dominion Road – Twerton and Bradford Road – Combe Down have been sold at auction with completion in December 2014;
• Peasedown St John (Greenlands Road car park) has been scheduled to be demolished to make way for extra parking spaces in the well-used car park.

PLEASE NOTE:

In Keynsham, there are alternative Council facilities in Memorial Park (open 7 days a week) and at the One Stop Shop and Library at Market Walk (open 6 days per week). The High Street also has a number of popular cafes and shops with customer facilities.

Peasedown – there are late discussions with the Parish Council on alternative options (taking over the block either to run as toilets or to use for their own storage purposes) which the Parish is considering as part of its budget-setting on Tuesday 20th. Demolition works are on hold until the end of this week.

Are Bath’s buskers sometimes too loud? Have your say!

Are Bath’s buskers sometimes too loud? Have your say!

Bath & North East Somerset Council is asking for people to give their views about the amplification of on-street entertainment.

A busker in Abbey Courtyard.

A busker in Abbey Courtyard.

On-street entertainers and performers – buskers – are an important part of the culture of Bath, bringing vibrancy and character to the city. Some use amplifiers to enhance the volume of their performance.

Currently, Bath & North East Somerset Council does not have a formal policy on busking as there is a voluntary code of practice used by the busking community.

Following concerns raised by local businesses and residents, the Council is considering a ban on the use of amplifiers in the following locations: Abbey Church Yard, Kingston Parade and Abbey Green.

This would be done by putting in place a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). The criteria for issuing a PSPO are:

· That the activities have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality
· The activities are persistent or continuing
· The activities are unreasonable
Before making any decision, the Council wants to hear the views of local people, whether residents, businesses, shoppers, visitors or buskers.

Cllr David Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Buskers are part of the vibrancy of Bath. However, the aim of the order would be to stop unwanted disturbance in specific areas of the city centre.

Brass playing buskers in Stall Street.

Brass playing buskers in Stall Street.

“Bath & North East Somerset Council wants to ensure that activities don’t have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality and to prevent activities that are persistent, continuing or unreasonable. I would encourage local people to fill out the consultation and make their views known to us.”

Cllr Manda Rigby (Lib-Dem, Abbey), Chair of the Licensing Committee, said: “Thanks to the ongoing work of the Council’s Public Protection Team, we are able to consider how officers can best respond to any issues raised by the public about the amplification of on-street entertainment. The outcome of this consultation will help us to achieve a fair balance for everyone.”

The questionnaire is now available on the ‘Consultations’ page of our website and will close on Sunday 29th March, at 11.45pm.

If you would prefer to respond on paper you can contact the Council via 01225 396803 or caroline_ranscombe@bathnes.gov.uk for a paper copy of the survey.

Parade Gardens to be new wedding venue

Parade Gardens to be new wedding venue

For couples looking to tie the knot in romantic Bath, a riverside location could help seal a perfect day now that Bath & North East Somerset Council-owned Parade Gardens has been added to the list of places licenced to host ceremonies.

While for those concerned that this would mean the whole of the Gardens being closed to the General Public – reassurances from Bath Parks that only the section involving the wedding would be out-of-bounds. The rest stays open.

Parade Gardens.

Parade Gardens.

The gardens were originally a private recreational space for the elite in the Georgian era. They have since been developed into an award-winning park that affords views of the historic Bath Abbey and the iconic Pulteney Bridge. Ceremonies can be held on the bandstand or on the colonnades overlooking the river.

Cllr Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “We have such wonderful settings in Bath and beyond that Bath & North East Somerset Council aims to make the best of what we can offer. We want to make sure that on that special day we can provide an experience for the bride and groom that they won’t forget.”

The Parade Gardens bandstand sits in the centre of a lawn that was once part of Bath Abbey’s orchard. It later became a private garden for the exclusive use of the fashionable visitors to Bath. The bandstand can hold up to 20 guests, but there is space for additional guests on the lawn.

The bandstand in Parade Gardens

The bandstand in Parade Gardens

The Colonnades were part of the developments to the gardens that were made in the late 1890s. Situated beneath North Parade, they offer stunning views of the river and the weir allowing for the feel of an open air ceremony with the guarantee of cover in wet weather.

There is space for up to 45 guests to sit underneath the colonnades, or more to sit outside looking in.

There is space in the gardens for a reception for up to 100 people and the gardens can be used for photos, drinks and nibbles as well.

Parade Gardens is already well-used as a wedding photo venue and, along with Royal Victoria Park, is also increasingly popular with hen parties as a setting for picnics and afternoon tea.

Looking down on Parade Gardens from the tower of Bath Abbey

Looking down on Parade Gardens from the tower of Bath Abbey

The site joins more than 30 venues which have successfully applied to the Council to become licenced premises. These include the council-owned Royal Victoria Park and Victoria Art Gallery.

Marianne and Ric got married in the Temple of Minerva in the Botanical Gardens in 2014. They said: “We had a truly fantastic wedding day, in no small part because of the location.” In July 2014 the bandstand in Royal Victoria Park hosted the first open air ceremony.

The wedding industry in Bath and North East Somerset is worth an estimated £15m annually. The Council offers advice and guidance on how businesses can make a success of their wedding offer.

Cindy Aze, Registration Services Manager at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Bath is extremely popular for Marriages and our Register Office prides itself in offering a top class experience to those couples who wish to have their ceremony with us. Parade Gardens will now offer couples another unique and picturesque option for their Marriage Ceremony.”

For more information on approved premises visit: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/births-marriages-and-deaths/approved-premises/directory-approved-premises.

People are asking if a wedding ceremony will close the whole of Parade Gardens to everyone else. Bath Parks assure me that only the section for the wedding would be closed. The rest would remain open to the public.

Free lunchtime talks at Bath Guildhall.

Free lunchtime talks at Bath Guildhall.

The Mappa Mundi, Magna Carta and Bath’s Roman Curse Tablets will be the subjects of talks presented by Bath & North East Somerset Council highlighting remarkable documents inscribed on The UNESCO Memory of the World International and UK Registers. The Registers recognise the world’s outstanding documentary heritage.

Examining real lead curses from the Roman Baths collection.

Examining real lead curses from the Roman Baths collection.

The free lunchtime talks – staged by the Council’s Heritage Services in the Bath Guildhall on 14, 21 and 28 January – present the perfect opportunity to learn more about some of the most significant written documents in the history of the world, which are held right here in the UK.

Cllr Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “These documents were of great importance in the past and are also of great importance to us today – helping us to better understand the world in which we live.”

The first talk about the Mappa Mundi is on Wednesday 14 January. It will be delivered by Sarah Arrowsmith, the Education Officer at Hereford Cathedral where it is displayed. This is the only complete example of a large mediaeval world map intended for public display. It gives us a window onto the world as it was known in the middle ages. It is drawn on vellum (calf skin) and holds historical, anthropological, ethnographical, theological, biblical and classical images and information. It presents a view of a world very different from ours.

On Wednesday 21 January, the Magna Carta will be the subject for Seif El Rashidi, the Magna Carta 800 Manager at Salisbury Cathedral. 2015 will be the 800th anniversary of its signing. Only four copies of the original Magna Carta exist, and one is held by Salisbury Cathedral. Considered by some to be the most significant document in our history, it set out for the first time the English principles of liberty, law and democracy and had a worldwide influence which endures to this day. The charter imposed constraints on royal authority in the areas of taxation, feudal rights and justice, thereby limiting unfair and arbitrary behaviour by the king towards his subjects. It is regarded by UNESCO as “an icon for freedom and democracy throughout the world”.

The final talk – given by Roman Baths Manager Stephen Clews about the Roman Curse Tablets from Bath – will be on Wednesday 28 January. They were included on the UK Register earlier this year. The Tablets are prayers requesting the assistance of the goddess Sulis Minerva in righting wrongs and ask for sometimes blood curdling punishment for the perpetrators of crimes. Some were written backwards to increase their potency. They provide a very different insight into the Roman world from that which comes down to us from other surviving documents. Who would want their name written upon a tablet thrown into the sacred spring seeking restitution and revenge?

The free talks will be held at the Guildhall, High Street, Bath from 1.10pm – 1.45pm on 14, 21 and 28 January. They are open to everyone and no ticket or advance booking is required.

Another ‘Illuminate’ event secured for Bath

Another ‘Illuminate’ event secured for Bath

Final Logo Digital 2015The highly popular ‘Illuminate Bath’ event has been confirmed to return to the city next month following funding from a number of significant investors.

This contemporary art event featuring light installations and large-scale projections on some of Bath’s most iconic buildings has received over £80,000 in funding.

Illuminate 2015 will take place from 3 to 10 January 2015 and is in partnership with Arts Council England, and Bath & North East Somerset Council.

The event has been sponsored by The Trevor Osborne Charitable Trust and the Creative Sparks programme is sponsored by Nicolas Pearson Associates.

The last Illuminate event attracted over 45,000 visitors to Bath, both local people and international tourists. The 2015 event promises to be bigger, better and include the works of a number of internationally acclaimed artists.

Image from previous Illuminate event in Bath

Image from previous Illuminate event in Bath

Senior Lecturer in Interactive Art and Design at Bath Spa University and Creative Director of Illuminate 2015 Anthony Head said: “It’s amazing to have the funding to create our most ambitious festival ever, and we’re very grateful to our funders and sponsors. As a result, Illuminate 2015 will be twice as long with double the number projects and take place across a wider area of Bath than the 2012 event.

“Illuminate 2015 is intended to demonstrate participatory and engaging public art, suitable for people of all ages. By including the work of international artists as well as graduates and students of Bath Spa University we are able to turn the streets of the centre of Bath, from the Holburne Museum to the Roman Baths, into a contemporary art venue, raising aspirations for our students and providing a free cultural event for the public.”

Image from previous Illuminate even in Bath

Image from previous Illuminate event in Bath

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, added: “This project is an outstanding example of how public art can capture the imagination and engage a whole community. Our ambition is to support great art and culture for everyone and Illuminate 2015 gives regional and international artists a truly unique platform to intrigue and enthrall huge audiences, especially young people and their families. We are delighted to have been able to support it through our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme.”

Any businesses or individuals who would like to support this event can find out more contacting Bath Spa University Head of Development & Campaigns, Marnie Whiting at m.whiting3@bathspa.ac.uk or by calling 01225 876100.

New register office for Keynsham.

New register office for Keynsham.

Bath & North East Somerset Council has opened a new Register Office at the Keynsham One Stop Shop as part of plans to improve services for the local community.

Photo Caption (left to right): Councillor Paul Crossley, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, with Lesley Brown, the Registrar at the new Keynsham Register Office, and Alison Manning, the Registration Services Manager for the Bath and North East Somerset District.

Photo Caption (left to right): Councillor Paul Crossley, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, with Lesley Brown, the Registrar at the new Keynsham Register Office, and Alison Manning, the Registration Services Manager for the Bath and North East Somerset District.

The new Register Office will operate two days a week, Mondays and Tuesdays, from 9am to 4pm, to register births, deaths and see couples to complete the legal preliminaries to marriage and civil partnerships. The opening of the Keynsham office comes just ahead of another new office opening in the RUH in Bath on Monday 10 November. This office will provide a service on Mondays and Thursdays each week.

Council leader, Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), said: “We’re delighted to open a new Register Office service in Keynsham. The new One Stop Shop in Keynsham provides local residents with joined up customer services from the Council and a variety of other public and voluntary sector partners.

The new One Stop Shop and library at Keynsham Civic Centre

The new One Stop Shop and library at Keynsham Civic Centre

“These include Age UK B&NES, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Curo, Reach, Sirona Care & Health and WE Care & Repair. This new way of providing services now means people from Keynsham and the surrounding area can access a variety of face-to-face, phone and online services in one convenient location, as well as being able to visit the new library.”

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “By providing an onsite register office at the Keynsham One Stop Shop we hope to make the registering of births and deaths that bit more convenient for local families. Having this new office, in addition to our offices at The Guildhall in Bath, The Hollies in Midsomer Norton and the Royal United Hospital in Bath, will make our Registrars even more accessible to the residents of Bath and North East Somerset.”

There was formerly a Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the Keynsham sub-district who provided the service from the offices of the local Employment Exchange. The office that existed prior to this closed in 1936 when the Registration District changed to Bathavon.

To book an appointment with the Register Office at Keynsham One Stop Shop please contact 01225 477234.

More details about the new Keynsham One Stop Shop, as well as our existing offices in Bath and Midsomer Norton, are available at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/onestopshop.