Elected Mayor for Bath and North East Somerset?

Elected Mayor for Bath and North East Somerset?

The office of Mayor of Bath can be traced back to 557AD when the settlement became a Saxon Burgh and a Burgh-Reeve or Governor was appointed.

The current Mayor of Bath, Cllr Cherry Beath.

The current Mayor of Bath, Cllr Cherry Beath.

The title ‘Mayor’ was introduced in 1189 – the first year of the reign of Richard the First and derives from the French ‘Maire’.

These rulers were appointed by the Monarch to administer justice in urban areas.

Today’s Mayor has no real power but is kept busy each year representing the city and supporting the local community.

Ceremonials in Abbey Churchyard

Ceremonials in Abbey Churchyard

Back in Tudor times a charter from Elizabeth the First had confirmed Bath’s city status in its own right with a corporate body of Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens.

The city’s titles were in danger of being lost when local government was restructured in 1974 and Bath became a District within the new County of Avon.

Our present Queen Elizabeth granted new charters to confirm Bath’s status and re-instate the titles of City and Borough.

Not sure where we stand now – with Bath part of Bath and North East Somerset Council – but l do know that a group of citizens have started a campaign to give back real power to a civic leader and appoint an elected mayor.

Collecting signatures in Kingsmead Square

Collecting signatures in Kingsmead Square

Bath hasn’t far to look to see an elected mayor in action. Just down the road in Bristol, George Ferguson – former President of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the man who saved and regenerated part of the old Wills Factory in Bedminster –  governs as their first city boss.

Stephen Taylor is part of a group of nine politically unaffiliated local people out collecting signatures in Bath to a petition which will call upon B&NES to organise a referendum next October to let people decide if they want to change the way the area is governed. But what sort of difference would it make?




Be interested to know what Virtual Museum of Bath followers think about this. The website for those campaigning for a referendum is www.mayorforbanes.org


Barriers come off the London Road

Barriers come off the London Road

A new tarmac strip has appeared beside part of the London Road into the city centre where workmen are busy installing new kerbs and paving on this ‘gateway’ into Bath.

It’s a temporary coating to provide a safe and less muddy walkway for pedestrians while the resurfacing work continues.

This earth surface has now got a temporary coating of tarmac

This earth surface has now got a temporary coating of tarmac

Exterio painting under way at the Gainsborough.

Exterior painting under way at the Gainsborough.

The lights are on in the hotel's new 5 star bedrooms!

The lights are on in the hotel’s new 5 star bedrooms!

It’s an operation that has been plagued with problems and one wonders whether it wouldn’t have been easier and cheaper to have gone for a proper tarmac surface in the first place!

In answer to those who have wondered why the whole pathway has been ripped up at once – rather than doing a piece at a time – l am told B&NES had told contractors that the London Road had to be clear of barriers by today (Friday) as the real Christmas rush gets underway.

Installing the kerb means the workmen can now get on with the job of laying new paving.

The work will be halted over the Christmas holidays and will not be finished until into the new year.

Elsewhere in the city l notice they’ve started painting exterior windows at the new 5 star Gainsborough Spa Hotel and there is also real evidence of hotel rooms being fitted out.

No opening date for 2015 has yet been given.


Market pitch for Georgian lido

Market pitch for Georgian lido


georgian lidoFor the first time ever, the Cleveland Pools Trust will have the Charity Chalet (Orange Grove) for one day at the incredibly popular Bath Christmas Market… that’s on Thursday 4th December 2014 from 10am til 8pm

The Trust will be selling a full selection of newly-branded and designed Cleveland Pools products, from delicious ‘Ultimate’ Christmas puddings and prints of the iconic ‘Handstand Man’, to a logo’d mug, fridge magnet, notebook stocking fillers and the wonderful new ‘Diving Lady’ poster by Catherine Phelps which celebrates the Pools forthcoming Bicentenary in 2015.

Some of the festival produce on sale.

Some of the festival produce on sale.

They will also sell her “Three Kings at the Pools” Christmas cards and have already had so many requests that they’ve had to order more.

Everything is at competitive prices, including postcards of the Pools by Bath artist Peter Brown for only 40p.

All product is package-protected for safe carrying.

The Trust are hoping the public will come along to help them raise funds to re-open Bath’s unique Georgian swimming pool.

New ticket deal for Victoria Art Gallery.

New ticket deal for Victoria Art Gallery.

Solar panels to ease the lighting bill and a rooftop café are just two of the possibilities opening up for Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery as it takes a long hard look at its future prospects.

Jon Benington - Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery

Jon Benington – Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery

These were just two ideas put forward by Manager Jon Bennington at a consultation event held in the gallery at which members of the public  heard about  ‘Forward Plans’ being developed for two of the city’s most important museums – the Roman Baths and Victoria Art Gallery.

It’s a shame more Bath people didn’t show up at the Gallery last night (Wednesday, November 26th)  to hear about exciting new proposals  to promote and expand two of the city’s major cultural attractions.

Jon told the two-dozen gathered in the upper gallery that the Victoria Art Gallery was there to serve local people but ‘as the Council is under pressure to save money the Gallery has to play its part in being a bit more imaginative about creating income.’

His was a small building but Council plans for opening up the empty spaces alongside – leading through to the Colonnades beside the Pulteney Bridge Weir – could provide space for a roof-top café and allow the museum shop to be extended.

The gathering at the Victoria Art Gallery

The gathering at the Victoria Art Gallery. Click on images to enlarge.

‘If someone can find the money we need to expand. The gallery is severely limited on its current footprint in terms of generating more income.’

Amongst other ideas put forward was reviewing and expanding the range of gallery events including tours of the collection.

They would look at their opening hours – including whether they should be open during Bank Holidays – and explore the possibilities of promoting events on banner sites around Bath. It was hoped banners might be possible outside the gallery too!

Said Jon: ‘ Our entrance often comes across as cold and clinical and – in promoting an all singing and dancing ground floor we must not let upstairs become a fossil.’

They were also working on a feasibility scheme to enable the Gallery to become a centre for studying Georgian England and developing the website and their use of social media.

Said Jon: ‘We have one thousand items on the website but we have ten thousand in our collection. There is a lot more work to do.’

Stephen Clews - Manager of the Roman Baths and Pump Room.

Stephen Clews – Manager of the Roman Baths and Pump Room.

Our intimate audience also heard from Stephen Clews who is the Manager of the Roman Baths and Pump Room. He was able to announce that the fabulous Beau Street Hoard of Roman coins will be going on show at the Roman Baths in February next year.

He also explained the idea behind the proposed Archway Centre. Heritage Lottery funding is in place for detailed plans to begin now but basically the Roman Baths are hoping to turn an old city laundry – 19th century industrial buildings – into  a World Heritage Interpretation Centre with a Learning Centre above.

The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.

The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.

The Archway Centre refers to the ornamental arch that was put above York Street to hide the pipes carrying hot water back from the laundry to the baths.

Hot off the press. News that from April next year the combined ticket offered for the Roman Baths and Fashion Museum will be going three-way to include the Victoria Art Gallery.

Jon explained: ‘It may cost a bit more but we are absolutely delighted because it will hopefully introduce the Gallery to a million visitors to the Roman Baths who may not necessarily know we are here.’




Bath music student pens Christmas ad

Bath music student pens Christmas ad

Bath Spa University Commercial Music student Ellie James’s new song ‘Company’ is being used as the soundtrack to the Peacocks Christmas TV advert which airs tonight, Wednesday 26 November 2014.

Commercial music student Ellie James

Commercial music student Ellie James

Ellie who performs as ‘Ellie Makes Music’ is in her second year at Bath Spa. The talented musician and performer has already received recognition having performed at The Houses of Parliament, been chosen as Artist of the Week and playlisted on BBC Radio Wales. Her music has also been played on Amazing Radio, BBC Radio 2, BBC6 Music and Nation Radio.

The advert is entitled ‘Waiting 4 Christmas’ and is available to view here

Commenting on her song being used as Peacocks Christmas TV advert soundtrack, Ellie said: “I’m absolutely over the moon that Peacocks have chosen my song ‘Company’ for their Christmas advert. It’s really lovely to work with such a fantastic company. I’ve learnt so much from the Commercial Music course in just a year and a half, and the course has really prepared me for the madness of the music industry.”

Ellie Makes Music songs are coming of age stories from the front-line of teenage life, with her song topics ranging from depression, anxiety and loneliness, to empowerment, bravery and growing up.

‘Company’ is available to download now from iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay and Spotify by visiting https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/company-single/id941656211

For more information about Ellie Makes Music as well as her debut EP ‘City Lights’, visit http://www.elliemakesmusic.com/

The University’s Commercial Music course has been running since 2001 and in that time has produced a large number of successful and talented musicians including signed artists Kill It Kid, The Heavy and Mike Dawes as well as graduates who go onto work for companies such as Sony, Universal Music Group, PRS for music, Mercury Records, One Little Indian, Union Square Records, PIAS, Atlantic Records and many more.

The course is all about creation: songs, projects, bands and entrepreneurial ideas. In writing, designing, promoting, performing, researching, touring and launching creative material, students acquire a range of skills to broaden their future career choices.

More information about BA Commercial Music is available at: http://www.bathspa.ac.uk/schools/music-and-performing-arts/courses/undergraduate/commercial-music

Former Bath stonemason apprentice gets national award.

Former Bath stonemason apprentice gets national award.

A former stonemasonry apprentice from City of Bath College has shown he is among the best in the business by securing a top spot in a national skills competition.

Steve Lebourn

Steve Lebourn

Steve Lebourn picked up a silver medal when he went head-to-head with the most skilled stonemasons in the country at the Skillbuild national competition.

Winning a medal in one of the industry’s most respected contests is a huge achievement for Steve who returned to college to learn a new trade as an adult learner.

Steve took the plunge and “followed his heart” to study a Level 2 NVQ in Stonemasonry after running his own successful bricklaying business for several years.

Two years ago 27-year-old Steve enrolled on a full-time Level 2 Stonemasonry Diploma at City of Bath College, commuting from his home in Southampton. He then impressed Wells Cathedral Stonemasons during a week’s work experience and the company took him on as an apprentice last year.

Steve triumphed in a series of competitions to make it through to the Skillbuild national final. He earned top honours in a competition at the college’s Construction Skills Centre, then placed second out of 30 masons from across the region in the UK Masonry Skills competition at Moulton College in Northamptonshire.

Stonemasonry lecturer Ray Sumner said: “Steve has followed on his from his successes at the City of Bath College competition and the UK Skills competition to win a silver medal at the National Skillbuild final.

“This was a great success because of the extremely high standards of work of all of the other competitors. It’s a really tough competition and he has only just finished his Level 2 NVQ.

“It shows the high standards of training that the college sets. We are all very proud of Steve.”

City of Bath College also had the opportunity to showcase its innovation and creativity with a stonemasonry ‘have a go’ stand at Skillbuild at the Birmingham NEC from November 13 to 15.

Staff and students were selected to showcase stonemasonry by an education and training sector panel looking for the ‘very best in vocational training.’

The stonemasonry department is no stranger to success as apprentice Chris Berridge beat off competition from around the globe to win a gold medal at the WorldSkills competition in 2011.

Earlier this year, City of Bath College was awarded the prestigious Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award for Practical Teaching and Practical Learning in Stonemasonry.

College Principal Matt Atkinson said: “Once again our stonemasonry team have achieved success, this time with a silver medal being achieved by student Steve Lebourn.

“This is a huge achievement for Steve and the stonemasonry teaching team.”

For more information about apprenticeships or full or part-time courses in stonemasonry at City of Bath College, call 01225 312191 or visit http://www.citybathcoll.ac.uk

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.