All quiet again on the Western Front.

All quiet again on the Western Front.

Fears that 5 or 6 chalets, from this year’s Bath Christmas Market, could be positioned in Abbey Churchyard, and obstruct the view of the Abbey’s West Front, look like being averted.

The idea was included in proposals – including units arranged in front of the 18th century historic Cross Bath –  put forward in this year’s annual market application, to B&NES planning committee, for 174 temporary wooden huts.

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The usual arrangement of commercial units – which bring much-needed cash into the city from November 23rd through to December 10th – is being disrupted by work that has started at Bath Abbey as part of their multi-million-pound Footprint Project.

It means parts of Abbey Courtyard and Kingston Parade cannot be used and chalets have to be found sites elsewhere.

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The tree in Abbey Churchyard. Chalets would have been in front of it.

I have heard Bath Abbey will be objecting to chalets near the West Front in Abbey Church Yard. It is a photo vantage point for thousands of people and even more so – with the town’s Christmas tree in place – during the festive season.

Meanwhile, the Council’s Senior Conservation Officer, Caroline Waldron, has also suggested stalls terminate at the end of Bath Street ‘and do not wrap the (Cross) Baths.’

Vicky Bunt – who is Head of Events for Bath Tourism Plus – the body behind the Market – told Bath Newseum that Bath Preservation Trust had also objected to the chalets being erected alongside the Abbey’s West Front.

She is due to have a meeting with them tomorrow (Friday, June 29th) and was also in discussions with Bath Abbey.

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Looking down Bath Street (last year) to the Cross Bath.

Vicky told me: ‘We think we can relocate the chalets. With a change of emphasis regarding the Footprint Project, it has been possible for the Abbey to release back some of the space on the North side.

We are in partnership with the city, after all, and would never go against peoples’ recommendations – especially at this time.

The chalets at the bottom of Bath Street would not be against the Cross Bath but on the pavement nearby.’

Hopefully, tomorrow’s meeting will bring an early bit of festive cheer and Bath Tourism Plus can re-jig things elsewhere.

 

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The tree from a couple of years ago.

 

Meanwhile, l hear that Bath Rotary – who in recent years have been criticised for putting their collecting hut in front of the Abbey Churchyard Christmas tree – may also be slightly relocating it to a less picture-blocking spot.

Never one to knock their charity fundraising, l would applaud that decision as many people in Bath for the market love getting a picture of tree and Abbey at that point.

 

 

 

Broad Quays Approval

Broad Quays Approval

Plans to relocate a coach park at Bath Quays North to Odd Down Park and Ride – costing £1.8 million pounds – is one of many projects across the region given the go-ahead today (Wednesday 28 June) by the West of England Joint Committee of the new Combined Authority.

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Projects worth more than £17m were approved and awarded funding of just over £10m to improve walking and cycling links, public spaces, public transport and road safety in the region. They underpin the aims of The Local Growth Fund and Economic Development Fund of supporting economic growth and improving connectivity.

The projects are:

  • £2.8m towards speeding up a strengthening, maintenance and improvement scheme for the Bromley Heath Viaduct reducing the time taken from 52 to 33 weeks;
  • £2.2m towards a new single platform rail station next to the Park and Ride at Portway on the Severn Beach Line;
  • £1.8m to  relocate a coach park in Bath from Bath Quays North to Odd Down Park and Ride; and
  • £3.3m towards 14 separate transport projects across the region including new cycle paths and bus lane enforcement.

The Local Growth Fund is awarded to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) who consider competitive bids that demonstrate they will create new infrastructure to encourage growth, support business investment and create jobs. Any additional funding required has been found from other local and Government sources.

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “Through the Local Growth Fund the Joint Committee can approve projects that will deliver much-needed infrastructure for the region. Today we’ve approved a range of large and small transport projects that add up to deliver a better-connected region.”

Local Enterprise Partnership interim chair Professor Steve West said: “Approval for these projects show that we can work together to make the West of England an attractive option for business and industry. As part of the area’s wider funding programme, these are important steps in ensuring that our transport infrastructure meets the growth needs of the region.”

The Joint West of England Committee met for the first time on June 28 and is the decision making body for issues relating to the four unitary authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Details of the meeting can be found at www.westofengland-ca.org.uk

FOR YOUR INFORMATION:

  1. In February 2017 it was announced by the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid that the West of England had secured £52.8m through the third round of the Local Growth Fund to cover individual projects until 2020/21.
  2. The schemes approved in the sustainable transport packages 2017/18 are:

 

Bath and North East Somerset

A39/B3116 junction improvements (£400,000 from Local Growth Fund GF for £550,000 scheme).  Improvements to aid traffic flow at the ‘two headed man’ pinch point.

Cycle Investment Package – three schemes (£40,000 from LGF for £60,000 scheme).  Combination of improvements in Midsomer Norton and Bath City Riverside Enterprise Area and grants for employers to encourage cycling and walking to work.

Safer Routes to Schools (£75,000 from LGF for £125,000 scheme). Progression of design and delivery of schemes to benefit schools in the area .

Bristol

Rupert Street Bus Priority (£200,000 fully funded). Re-allocating road space so buses take priority where bus passengers already outnumber car occupants by three to one.

Access to the Arena (£800,000 fully funded). Improving access facilities  and drop off points along Albert Road for coaches and taxis.

Airport Road Cycle Path (£75,000 fully funded).  Detailed designs for a continuous cycle route along Airport Road

North Somerset

Weston Town Centre Regeneration (£500,000 from Local Growth Fund for £700,000 scheme).  Visual and physical improvements around the Town Square, South Parade and Regents Street area for walking and cycling.

Coastal Towns Cycle Route (£10,000 from LGF for £33,0000 scheme) Preliminary works to improve a walking and cycling path, including a missing link on Uphill Road North.

South Gloucestershire

Access to Emerson’s Green Enterprise Area (£430,000 from LGF for £460,000 scheme). Further construction of the Yate Spur cycle route and design of the Pucklechurch Link for cyclists.

Access to Bristol North Fringe (£80,000 fully funded).  Start of project to improve walking and cycling along the A38 in Filton and Patchway.

Access to Avonmouth and Severnside Enterprise Area (£450,000 fully funded).  Walking and cycling improvements along the A403 between Ableton Lane to Central Avenue for commuter and leisure use.

Bus Network Enforcement (£240,000 fully funded).  Strengthened enforcement of bus lanes with eight poles for cameras and five movable cameras.

 

Better control of student housing.

Better control of student housing.

B&NES is going to take a fresh look at better controlling student housing. The Council has published new proposals which seek to better control the growth of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) in Bath and prevent there being further areas with high concentrations of HMOs from developing in the city.

The proposals would mean that, barring exceptional circumstances, applications for new HMOs would be refused in areas where 10% or more of properties have already been converted into multiple occupancy homes.

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A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is, in principle, a house or flat which is occupied by three or more unrelated people who share facilities such as a kitchen and bathroom. Bath has seen a significant increase in HMOs and private rented property over the last 10-15 years with HMOs forming an important part of the local housing market, providing affordable accommodation for students, professionals and migrant workers among others.

Three years ago the Council removed permitted development rights to convert residential properties to small HMOs and planning permission for change of use is now required.  A framework was adopted to assess such applications with the aim of avoiding further high concentrations of HMOs developing in the city.  This framework is now being reviewed and, following consultation, includes a proposal to change the threshold from  25% to 10% in any one area for when the Council will consider refusing planning applications for conversion to HMOs.  Existing HMO’s will not be affected.

The leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council Cllr Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip) said:  “These proposals are responding to concerns raised by residents about the proliferation of HMOs in parts of Bath and the impact this can have on the mix of available housing in the area.

As a Council, our aim is to ensure that Bath has a balanced mix of housing types to meet the needs of the city, and the growing number of HMOs in recent years has become an increasing concern for many residents. Our proposals

Our proposals would, therefore, limit the number of HMOs in a given area to no more than 10% of properties. In areas where more than 10% of properties are already HMOs, it would be expected that no new applications for HMO conversions would be permitted.”

Cabinet Assistant for Homes & Planning Cllr Bob Goodman (Conservative, Combe Down), who has been leading the review of HMO policy, said: “Whilst these proposals won’t prevent all new HMOs from gaining planning permission, it will help to control their growth and prevent further areas from developing with high concentrations. We recognise the role HMOs have to play as part of our area’s wider mix of housing stock, not just for students but particularly for young professionals as well.  However, we also believe it is right to control their growth and ensure a balance of housing types within communities. In the coming weeks we

We recognise the role HMOs have to play as part of our area’s wider mix of housing stock, not just for students but particularly for young professionals as well.  However, we also believe it is right to control their growth and ensure a balance of housing types within communities. In the coming weeks we will, therefore, be listening to feedback on these proposals, and depending on this feedback a full public consultation will be undertaken prior to adopting any changes in the autumn.

“These proposals on HMOs are also all part of our wider look at the issue of student accommodation in the city and the work we are doing to look at how the Council can control the growth in student accommodation and ensure a balanced housing mix in the city.”

The Council is reviewing the evidence regarding HMO’s using up-to-date data and surveys, has consulted with the Universities, undertaken public consultation with communities and held stakeholders’ workshops.

The meeting of the Scrutiny Panel on 4th of July is part of the process to help the Council come to a conclusion on the need for any changes to the planning policy for HMOs.  Any changes will be subject to public consultation scheduled for the autumn.

 

That chandelier moment!

That chandelier moment!

Twice a year the very expensive Georgian crystal glass chandeliers at the Assembly Rooms are lowered towards the floor for cleaning and maintenance.
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The chandeliers in the Ballroom in their lowered position.

They are amongst the most important to have survived from the 18th century. The five in the ballroom and three in the Tea Room are by William Parker of Fleet Street.
It’s always been the same operation. Though we change light bulbs rather than candles.
Originally those little wax fed flames were capable of giving seven hours service for a ball – leaving four hours burning time for a concert.
Today’s illuminators last a little longer!
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Looking towards the Ballroom.

Jonathan Collett made an earlier set for the Ballroom but, one month after the opening in 1771, an arm collapsed – nearly hitting artist Thomas Gainsborough. They were dismantled and salvaged to form a single chandelier in the Octagon – to illuminate the card players!
Students help keep streets clean.

Students help keep streets clean.

The Student Community Partnership (SCP) of Bath & North East Somerset Council, and both of the city’s universities have been shortlisted for a National Recycling Award for their campaign to help students keep the streets clean, and move out of their properties for the summer in the best way – donating as they go – for the British Heart Foundation.

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The campaign so far has seen over 6,000 bags of clothes, shoes, books, bric-a-brac, stationery, CDs and DVDs and sheets and pillow cases donated by students of the University of Bath and Bath Spa University through the on and off campus donation banks.

The temporary donation banks, arranged as part of the campaign in the Oldfield Park area of Bath have proved particularly successful with over 3,500 bags being donated through the 7 banks.

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Along with the donation banks there have been a series of road shows on and off campus and 1,300 properties were door knocked by SCP officers, student volunteers and Council Waste Campaigns staff to give advice to students about recycling more and planning ahead to reduce end of term waste.

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North) Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “The Council continues to work closely with its partners to keep the streets clear of rubbish and help students donate items they no longer need. It’s great that this work has been recognised by being shortlisted for a National Recycling Award. The donations will go a long way to securing the funding for the valuable research and lifesaving activities carried out by the British Heart Foundation.”

The winner of the waste prevention category at the MRW National Recycling Awards will be announced today – the 28th June 2017.

The temporary banks will be removed at the end of July.

Stonewall champions B&NES for celebrating LGBT equality in schools.

Stonewall champions B&NES for celebrating LGBT equality in schools.

 

Stonewall – Britain’s lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity – has named Bath and North-East Somerset Council as the best local authority for tackling anti-LGBT bullying and celebrating difference in its schools.

The Council came number one in the Education Equality Index 2017, a list of the Top 10 local authorities in Britain.

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The Bath Guildhall

Now in its seventh year, the Index remains a vital tool for local authorities to benchmark their success in making local schools inclusive of LGBT issues and young people, measuring practice and policy at all the participating local authorities.

Bath & North East Somerset Council once again lead the way, working to celebrate difference and challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in schools as well as support LGBT young people in their local community.

Having been inspired by a presentation at a Stonewall Education Seminar, the Council has actively encouraged schools and other youth settings to develop children and young people-led Equality Teams (E-Teams) to work collaboratively on campaigns around diversity and inclusion.

Children and young people led the campaign to make their local area a more inclusive place to live, work and study.

There are now over 50 E-Teams in the area many of which are focusing their activities on celebrating difference and challenging discriminatory language.

The Council’s LGBT youth group, SPACE developed an excellent coming out guide for parents. Trans members of the group also shared their experiences at an event held for Transgender Day of Remembrance, which featured a session with the CEO of Gendered Intelligence, Jay Stewart, and trans actress Rebecca Root, star of Boy Meets Girl (BBC) and The Danish Girl.

Thanks to its excellent work ensuring LGBT-inclusivity in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Bath & North East Somerset Council has also supported Stonewall to develop its forthcoming guide on celebrating difference and challenging gender stereotypes in EYFS.

Councillor Tim Warren, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: ‘We are delighted that Bath & North East Somerset Council has once again gained top ranking in the Stonewall Equality Index 2017.  One of our key strengths is the fantastic partnership working that goes on between the Local Authority, schools and external agencies. And I must say a huge thank you to all the young people in our area who are helping us to make the area a more inclusive place to live, work and visit – we couldn’t have achieved this top place without their ideas and efforts.’

Sarah Rose, Senior Account Manager at Stonewall, said: ‘We’ve seen outstanding work from all of those local authorities that have participated in this year’s Education Equality Index – especially our Top 10 and our award winners.

‘Bath & North East Somerset Council has shone with its phenomenal initiatives and inspiring work with and for local young people, working to celebrate difference and challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.’

The launch of the Index coincides with the release of Stonewall research, the School Report, a comprehensive survey into the experiences of young people, aged 11 – 19 years old, in Britain’s schools in 2017.

Stonewall works directly with over 1000 primary, secondary and special schools, as well as pupil referral units to help them celebrate difference and tackle anti-LGBT bullying.

The School Report 2017 found that anti-LGBT bullying has decreased substantially over the past decade.

Other results showed that seven in ten bullied LGBT pupils say teachers who are present during homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying do not intervene.

 

Autumn opening for new riverside walk?

Autumn opening for new riverside walk?

The newly shaped and landscaped bank of the River Avon – along from Churchill Bridge – continues to take shape.

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Looking onto the newly shaped river bank from the Churchill Bridge end.

Chatting to one workman, he said they hoped it would be ready for people to use by early autumn.

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Looking onto the newly shaped river bank – and towards Churchill Bridge.

Apparently, the little medieval bridge that was uncovered during an archaeological dig on the site IS being restored ‘in situ’ but he said ‘the authorities’ had still not decided how to present it.

I feel another check is necessary. I do keep pushing on this one.

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The new concrete flood wall near Churchill Bridge.

Across the river, the building of a flood retention wall continues apace. It really is taking on the shape of being Bath’s WALL.

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The new flood wall looking towards Churchill Bridge.

While work on both sides of the Avon is part of a scheme to widen the river’s capacity – and reduce the risk of flooding to homes and businesses at this point – l do hope they are going to face the concrete with something more attractive to soften the look.