No return to Avon

No return to Avon

Cllr Tim Warren Leader of B&NES.

Cllr Tim Warren
Leader of B&NES.

Greater powers – yes – but we don’t want Avon back again. That’s the mission statement of the Leader of B&NES Council, Cllr Tim Warren, who is quoted in a report on devolution by David Paine contained in the latest on-line issue of the Local Government Chronicle.

I quote David’s feature in full. The Local Government Chronicle is reachable via www.lgcplus.com

“Councils in the south-west will submit a bid for extra powers to the government before tomorrow’s deadline, LGC can reveal.

The proposals from the West of England Partnership – made up of Bristol City Council, Bath & North East Somerset Council, North Somerset Council, and South Gloucestershire Council – include gaining powers and controls over skills, as well as transport and broadband infrastructure, and fiscal freedoms.

However, there are no plans to take on the role of the police and crime commissioner or control health and social care budgets as local leaders do not believe the area is large enough to justify taking control of these areas.

Such proposals would also trigger the need to adopt an elected mayor, a contentious issue in the region which has not yet been resolved, according to Bath & North East Somerset’s leader Tim Warren (Con).

Cllr Warren, who is also chair of the region’s strategic leaders’ board, told LGC: “The mayoral issue will be a stopping point for me and will be for all of us so we will be negotiating that. We don’t need a mayor.”

In July, LGC reported that the West of England Partnership had started a governance review as a step towards developing a detailed case for devolved powers.

The review is expected to take between nine and 18 month to complete. A spokesman for Bristol told LGC at the time of the launch that the review did not preclude the region from submitting a bid.

Cllr Warren said a combined authority was likely to be formed but added leaders “don’t want and won’t accept” a reformation of Avon CC, which previously covered the same local authority footprint as the four councils. It was abolished in 1996.

A spokesman for Bristol told LGC this week: “We are working closely and productively with our partners across the West of England with a view to obtaining devolved powers.”

LGC reported yesterday that most cities and counties are due to submit bids for devolution ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.

Light a spark for the Arts.

Light a spark for the Arts.

Ben Howlett, MP for Bath.

Ben Howlett, MP for Bath.

Bath’s new MP Ben Howlett met up with the Virtual Museum of Bath today to explain why he thought investing in the Arts would pay dividends for the local economy.

He also gave his support to the many art and creative bodies and individuals calling for a proper Centre for the Arts in the city.

I met up with Ben in Queen Square – the day after he had attended a Cultural Forum meeting to discuss art provision in Bath.

A meeting in which he called for a big spark to ignite a real desire to show we – as a city – mean business as far as the Arts are concerned.

Making room for the Arts.

Making room for the Arts.

Make room for culture and the creative industries – give them space to grow – or risk Bath losing out on jobs, influence and any chance of becoming the creative industries capital of the South West.

The panel at the Cultural Forum's discussion on the cultural and creative economy held at Burdall's Yard - Bath Spa University's venue for music and the performing arts.

The panel at the Cultural Forum’s discussion on the cultural and creative economy held at Burdall’s Yard – Bath Spa University’s venue for music and the performing arts.

This seemed to be the central plea put forward during a round table discussion with Bath’s new MP Ben Howlett, B&NES councillors and leading members of the cultural and creative sectors in the city.

It was a meeting chaired by the Cultural Forum – an independent membership organisation which champions the role and value of the arts, culture and heritage in the life of our communities.

Ben Howlett said he believed the Arts were not a drain on the economy and that the cultural and creative sectors were the lifeblood of Bath.

Reacting to calls for the Council to make room for the arts – and the difficulties of even getting short-term use of empty local authority-owned properties – he said B&NES should look at opportunities and not prevention.

He went on to talk about the coming closure of the Mineral Water Hospital and the long-empty King Edward’s old school building in Broad Street as examples of situations where Council action now could generate new spaces for things other than restaurant or bar conversions.

He wanted some sort of protection orders to stop these historic buildings being swallowed up by such commercial ventures.

Council leader Tim Warren said B&NES had to save 38 million pounds over four years to make up a reduction in Government funding and resources would decrease. The Council was expected to do more for less.

He thought B&NES was more supportive of the Arts than many other local authorities in the region but stressed that they had to be there for everybody. Bringing Arts to the main body of people and not just a privileged few.

He spoke of how important volunteers were to help ease the financial situation .

Answering criticism of the lack of opportunity to use empty council property for artistic means he said local authorities were told by central government to ‘maximise revenue through rents’ and the council’s property stock was a money earner.

The audience at the Cultural Forum event.

The audience at the Cultural Forum event.

Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones – who has the culture and heritage brief on B&NES – said the Council was keen to hear from the cultural and creative sector. They wanted to understand its needs, but he said, B&NES could not be a financier for the Arts anymore.

He also spoke of the ‘gentrification’ of Bath in that affluence draws in developers seeking a maximum return on their investment. The transformation of the city centre tended to push out the Arts and he agreed Bath was losing those spaces and that finding room for the Arts was a bit of a challenge .

He hoped the way forward was seeking more collaboration with commercial concerns to include space for the Arts in redevelopments and repairing relations with the Arts Council.

Rail brackets and ho ho ho.

Rail brackets and ho ho ho.

Rail services resume.

Rail services resume.

As of Tuesday, September the First, it was good to see passenger traffic back in direct operation on the Bristol to London line through Bath.

The track from the spa city through to the other side of Box Tunnel has been closed for six weeks while some stretches of rail had been lowered and many others treated to new ballast and track as part of Network Rail’s programme of electrification.

True to their word contractors were able to re-open the line  but l also noticed what l thought was evidence of things to come.

A hook for a cable-carrying post?

A hook for a cable-carrying post? No – it was part of a measuring device looking for movement in the wall.  Click on images to enlarge.

There will obviously be more disruption when the posts to hold the power cable are erected and – once the design of posts and barriers needed in historic Sydney Gardens is agreed – the actual electrification programme will be a much more obvious change to the railway Isambard Kingdom Brunel originally created to run through Bath.

More hooks in place on the railway retaining wall.

More hooks in place on the railway retaining wall.  The arrow points to one of them. Click on images to enlarge.

What l spotted today – on the retaining wall through the former Georgian pleasure park – were brackets fixed to the wall.

Are these to hang the cable-carrying posts? No! Devices for measuring movement in the wall during track re-laying and due to be removed.

The next Network Rail public drop in session is being held in Bath’s Guildhall on September 8th at 4pm until 7.30 pm.

The flag of B&NES - l think!

The flag of B&NES – l think!

Meanwhile B&NES – time to invest in a new flag for the Guildhall post.

Let the Christmas orders begin!

Let the Christmas orders begin!

Your current offering was spotted hanging by one cable a few days ago!

And with autumn officially due to start on September 22nd l spotted an official public notice advising of a planning application for the annual wooden chalet Christmas Market and also an A board on the High Street promoting Christmas meals.

Let the  good times begin. Ho ho ho!

Seven Dials closure.

Seven Dials closure.

Bath & North East Somerset Council will be carrying out overnight road closures on Monday 7 and Tuesday 8

The 'shared' space at Seven Dials.

The ‘shared’ space at Seven Dials.

September to deliver essential road maintenance in Westgate Buildings and additional road markings in Seven Dials.

The road will be closed at the entry to Westgate Buildings from 7pm each night, re-opening at 5am the following morning.

During the closures, there will be no vehicle access to Westgate Buildings or Monmouth Street from James Street West. Pedestrian access will be maintained at all times.

Vehicles will still be able to access Saw Close via Westgate Street and Kingsmead Square via New Street and the upper section of Monmouth Road will be accessible from Princes Street.

Councillor Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “The overnight road closures are essential to the ongoing improvement work to this area of Bath. This new administration is committed to making it easier for residents, businesses and visitors to get around Bath.”

Seven Dials, incorporating Kingsmead Square and Saw Close, is the historic west gate of Bath the city where seven routes met and lies to the west of the city’s main thoroughfare. Work to improve the public space in Seven Dials has recently been completed as part of an ongoing package of pedestrian and cycling improvements.

A blot on the landscape?

A blot on the landscape?

A blot of the landscape?

A blot of the landscape?

The people who maintain Bath’s parks usually take great

A closer look at that pile of rubble! Click on image to enlarge.

A closer look at that pile of rubble! Click on image to enlarge.

care over their appearance so you can imagine my shock when l came across a huge pile of earth and rubble beside a path in the city’s illustrious Royal Victoria Park.

The notice board which explain all! Click on image to enlarge.

The notice board which explain all! Click on image to enlarge.

Turns out – when you get closer and read the notice board – that this rubble is – l quote – ‘destined to become part of a new colourful wildflower area in Royal Victoria Park.’

The pile apparently comes from ‘the excavations for the new RVP skatepark’ so B&NES is ‘helping to recycle material which would otherwise have gone to landfill.’

This 46 acre site is a very early example of a British public park and was designed in 1829. Building work started in January of the following year with nearly 200 men employed on the project.

The Duchess of Kent and her daughter Princess Victoria officially opened the park on October 28th 1830 – hence the name Royal Victoria Park.

Choosing a site for park and ride.

Choosing a site for park and ride.

Bath & North East Somerset Council will hold a public consultation to seek the public’s views on possible sites for a new park and ride to the East of Bath.

The plans for an East of Bath Park & Ride form a key part of the Council’s wider strategy to improve transport, tackle congestion and reduce air pollution levels in and around Bath.

Cllr Anthony Clarke (left) and Councillor Tim Warren with one of the Park and Ride buses.

Cllr Anthony Clarke (left) and Councillor Tim Warren with one of the Park and Ride buses.

Cllr Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Our existing Park and Ride sites are very popular with the public and have recently been expanded. But we also need an additional Park and Ride site to the east of the city to improve access from that side and further reduce traffic coming into the centre unnecessarily.

“One of our new administration’s top priorities is to improve local transport – making it easier for residents, businesses and visitors to get around our area. Therefore we’re taking action to meet people’s needs for an east of Bath Park and Ride. We’re keen for people to take a look at the potential sites and give us their views to help us to choose the preferred location.”

The consultation will start on September 7 2015 and run until early October. At the end of the consultation, officers will analyse the results, which will be put before councillors in November for a decision. Once a preferred site has been chosen it will be included in the Placemaking Plan later this year.

The route into town of the new park and ride. Click on images to enlarge.

The route into town of the new park and ride. Click on images to enlarge.

An independent review in 2013 found that there were seven potential sites. Three have been deemed viable.

Cllr Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “The three sites which are being put forward to consultation are the ones which have been assessed and identified by the Council’s transport officers as the most viable of the seven originally considered. We do not have a preference for which of these three sites should be taken forward – we want to hear which site residents believe would be the most appropriate location and deliver the most benefit in terms of improving transport.”

The three sites for consultation are:

· Land east of A4/A46 junction
· Land west of Mill Lane
· Land east of Mill Lane

A Park and Ride bus into Bath.

A Park and Ride bus into Bath.

The consultation will include:

· A brochure and website where you can look at plans for the different sites and compare their benefits and challenges.
· Exhibitions in Bathampton Village Hall (Saturday 19 September – 2.00pm to 6.00pm) and the Guildhall in Bath (Tuesday 22 September – 4.00pm to 8.00pm).
· More exhibitions are planned, see the Council’s website for further updates.
· Meetings with parish councils and other interested local organisations.

Objectives for the Park and Ride Scheme:
· To reduce congestion within the city
· To improve the city’s environment
· To reduce car use into the city centre and improve the proportion of journeys made by public transport
· To reduce carbon emissions from transportBath & North East Somerset Council will hold a public consultation to seek the public’s views on possible sites for a new park and ride to the East of Bath.

The plans for an East of Bath Park & Ride form a key part of the Council’s wider strategy to improve transport, tackle congestion and reduce air pollution levels in and around Bath.

Cllr Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Our existing Park and Ride sites are very popular with the public and have recently been expanded. But we also need an additional Park and Ride site to the east of the city to improve access from that side and further reduce traffic coming into the centre unnecessarily.

“One of our new administration’s top priorities is to improve local transport – making it easier for residents, businesses and visitors to get around our area. Therefore we’re taking action to meet people’s needs for an east of Bath Park and Ride. We’re keen for people to take a look at the potential sites and give us their views to help us to choose the preferred location.”

The consultation will start on September 7 2015 and run until early October. At the end of the consultation, officers will analyse the results, which will be put before councillors in November for a decision. Once a preferred site has been chosen it will be included in the Placemaking Plan later this year.

An independent review in 2013 found that there were seven potential sites. Three have been deemed viable.

Cllr Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “The three sites which are being put forward to consultation are the ones which have been assessed and identified by the Council’s transport officers as the most viable of the seven originally considered. We do not have a preference for which of these three sites should be taken forward – we want to hear which site residents believe would be the most appropriate location and deliver the most benefit in terms of improving transport.”

The three sites for consultation are:

· Land east of A4/A46 junction
· Land west of Mill Lane
· Land east of Mill Lane

The consultation will include:

· A brochure and website where you can look at plans for the different sites and compare their benefits and challenges.
· Exhibitions in Bathampton Village Hall (Saturday 19 September – 2.00pm to 6.00pm) and the Guildhall in Bath (Tuesday 22 September – 4.00pm to 8.00pm).
· More exhibitions are planned, see the Council’s website for further updates.
· Meetings with parish councils and other interested local organisations.

Objectives for the Park and Ride Scheme:
· To reduce congestion within the city
· To improve the city’s environment
· To reduce car use into the city centre and improve the proportion of journeys made by public transport
· To reduce carbon emissions from transport
· To support the city’s economic development and Enterprise Area
· To improve connectivity to support business and growth of the wider region.

There are currently three Park and Ride sites on the edges of Bath, at Newbridge, Lansdown and Odd Down.
· To support the city’s economic development and Enterprise Area
· To improve connectivity to support business and growth of the wider region.

There are currently three Park and Ride sites on the edges of Bath, at Newbridge, Lansdown and Odd Down.