Guildhall buddleia and the new monolith.

Guildhall buddleia and the new monolith.

A quick round up as we head into the weekend. Network Rail contractors have completed repairs to the decking of the cast-iron footbridge across the main rail line passing through Sydney Gardens.


Repairs completed to the planks across the rail footbridge.


However, the stone walling – into which this Brunel designed marvel is slotted – must be cause for concern.


Stone is breaking away from the rail footbridge.

Had the government worried less about HS2 – and more about letting the electrification of the London to Bristol line continue – the rail bridges through this former Georgian pleasure garden would have been ‘restored’ before new safety barriers were applied.

City end of Great Pulteney Street finds the poor old Laura Place fountain once more as dry as a bone. Why cannot someone be found to sponsor this little watery attraction. It certainly ruins any picture our tourists try to take looking down towards the Holburne.

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Switched off and empty again!

Into the High Street, and new direction monoliths are going up. Can see they will help but still feel its a pity our little back streets couldn’t come together under a ‘The Bath Lanes’ banner.


The new monolith outside The Corridor.

Meanwhile our beloved Guildhall – a symbol of local government and of the city’s mayoralty – sits in the background of yet another photo showing the mess on our streets.


Food waste is mixed in and birds can smell it!

This is on a par  – as an important issue – with the East of Bath Park and Ride. Get a meeting going now with B&NES, local businesses and refuse collectors. All bags should be labelled so you can catch the idiots putting food into them. Don’t blame gulls and pigeons for human failings.We make more of a mess than the birds do.


The Guildhall buddleia

Finally, l remember the B&NES councillor who told me buddleia does not grow in this city because we don’t have derelict sites. Tell that to the plant flourishing just inside the railings outside the Guildhall.

Maybe it knows something we don’t?





Behind closed doors.

Behind closed doors.

There are many Bathonians who will remember buying provisions from Cater, Stoffell and Fortt – a famous company name in Bath’s retail history and a firm regarded by many as the Fortnum and Masons of the provinces.

The company went out of business in the 1980’s but one of its city shops was in Margaret’s Buildings and – miraculously – much of its original fittings survive.

Local historian Andrew Hill – who covered the history of the company in his book ‘Biscuits, Banquets and Bollinger’ – has been lucky enough to look behind the shutters.

Here’s his report and some of the photographs he took.

Caters, Stoffel & Fort, Margaret Buildings

The shop in St Margaret’s Buildings – as it was back in the 1980’s.

“Behind the shutters of 8 Margaret’s Buildings can be found a fascinating relic of Bath’s retail history. From 1890 to the early 1980s, the firm of Cater, Stoffell and Fortt was a byword for quality, variety and service in Bath, Bristol and the West Country.

It was claimed that it could provide anything from fish fingers to foie gras and custard powder to caviar, and it was regarded as the Fortnum and Mason’s of the provinces.


The shop fittings are still in place.

As well as Margaret’s Buildings, the firm had branches in the High Street, Milsom Street, Southgate Street and Green Street as well as two stores in Bristol and the Bath Oliver Biscuit factory in Manvers Street.

The premises in Margaret’s Buildings offered a high class service to the “carriage trade”, especially  the wealthy residents of the Circus and the various nearby crescents. When the shop finally closed in 1981 it became an antiques emporium and the new owner retained the original shop fittings and signage.


Now the shop has been sold again, but the new owner and Savill’s estate agents permitted Andrew Hill (author of “Biscuits, Banquets & Bollinger, the History of Cater, Stoffell & Fortt Ltd”) to have a look around and take some photos, as seen here.


They are a souvenir of a bygone era when the well-heeled customers sat on chairs at the counter and dictated their orders to the staff who arranged for deliveries to the door in a matter of hours.

20170725_130518 In its heyday, customers came from as far away as Shepton Mallet to take their pick of the huge variety of goods available, including up to 40 different types of cheese and such exotic delicacies as shark’s fin soup, mussel soup and kangaroo tail.


Few traces of Cater, Stoffell & Fortt now remain but it is encouraging to hear that the new owner of these premises intends to preserve the ground floor shop interior unchanged.



Don’t let Bath become a doughnut!

Don’t let Bath become a doughnut!

He’s got responsibility for influencing the way the modern city of Bath connects with and safeguards its history and heritage, but when l met Professor Barry Gilbertson – newly appointed as Chairman of the City of Bath World Heritage Steering Group – he wanted to talk doughnuts.


Well,  he also wanted to talk about what  World Heritage status means to Bath and how – as a place where people live and work –  the city couldn’t be frozen in time – but it was the comparison between the heart of this ancient place to a ring doughnut that stuck in my mind.

It’s all to do with the threat of creating a hole in the middle because residents don’t want to live in the heart of Bath because tourism is too high.

I went to Barry’s city centre home to do a substantial interview with him. He is – of course – only at the start of his tenure-ship and has a lot of meetings and research to undertake.

His chat ranges over how to manage the impact of the city’s development with its World Heritage Status, the issue of transport and the impact of some four and a half million visitors each year on the fabric of Bath.

He wants to talk to groups and organisations everywhere to spread the World Heritage news and give his body a much higher profile.

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You’ll find a story about his appointment – which lists his credentials – elsewhere in Bath Newseum, but before you click on the interview l will leave you with a quote from Barry.

“We are not our past, but our Heritage must play its part in the future of this wonderful city, whether it is to live, to work or to play.

Importantly, the WHS should not be a constraint or obstacle to growth, but an invitation to excel.’



Narrow vote in favour of Foxhill redevelopment.

Narrow vote in favour of Foxhill redevelopment.

Controversial plans for the redevelopment of the Foxhill Estate – including the re-provision of up to 700 homes – have today been approved by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Development Management Committee.

playground in demolition area

The Committee voted in favour of the outline planning application by the developer Curo Places Ltd, by a narrow vote of 5 to 4.

One of the green areas where children play

Cllr Sally Davis (Conservative, Farmborough) Chair of the Development Management Committee, said: “We have carefully considered all of the information in the officer report, and having conducted a site visit and listened closely to the representations at today’s meeting, the Committee voted to approve the Curo Places redevelopment of the Foxhill Estate, subject to the conditions and legal agreement stated in the officer report.”

Houses Foxhill Road

As this is an outline planning application, subsequent reserved matters will need to be prepared and submitted which will deal with the detailed design of each phase of development as it comes forward.

Dunster house flats

Further details on the outline planning application and the conditions for approval can be found at:

Nominations wanted for Community Awards

Nominations wanted for Community Awards

Nominations for The Chair of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Community Awards have officially opened.

The awards, recognise volunteers, community leaders, community organisations, carers and local businesses for the positive impact they make on others and the wider community.


Chair of B&NES, Cllr Cherry Beath.

Council Chair, Cllr Cherry Beath, may identify one or more individuals or groups from the nominations received to present a ‘Special Award’.

Cllr Beath said: “I am delighted to promote these important awards, Nominations are open until Friday 1st December. From those nominations I will then identify one or more individuals or groups to receive an award.

“I am grateful to the organisations working with me including The Volunteer Centre, Bath and beyond, social housing provider Curo, the Student Community Partnership (universities in Bath), and Sirona care & health, and we welcome Virgin Care as a new Partner for this year’s awards. There are so many outstanding groups and individuals working in our Community, and they are all to be applauded.”

Nominations are open until Friday 1st December, the Chair will then identify one or more individuals or groups to receive an award.

The Awards are organised annually in partnership with the Volunteer Centre Bath and beyond; social housing provider Curo; the Student Community Partnership (involving the University of Bath and Bath Spa University students unions) and Sirona care & health.  The Chair is also delighted to welcome a new partner for this year’s Awards, Virgin Care.

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  • Volunteer of the Year / Young Volunteer of the Year
  • Volunteer Leader of the Year / Young Volunteer Leader of the Year
  • Volunteer Team or Organisation of the Year/ Young Volunteer Team or Organisation of the Year
  • Good Neighbour of the Year / Neighbourhood Team of the Year / Young Neighbour or Young Neighbourhood Team of the Year
  • Carer of the Year / Young Carer of the Year
  • The Peter Duppa-Miller Lifetime Achievement

Category 2 – Business in the Community Award

This award will recognise a socially responsible business which actively supports its local community in positive activities.

The Chair may also identify one or more individuals or groups from the nominations received to present a ‘Special Award’.

Julie Thallon, Interim Managing Director at Virgin Care, said: “We are delighted to be a partner for the Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Chair’s Community Awards in recognition of the invaluable contribution that volunteers and community champions make in improving and developing their local communities.”

Mike Plows, Volunteer Centre, said: “Being a part of the Awards again this year is a great honour.  We have so many inspirational people in our community that give up their time to help and support others, it is a wonderful opportunity to recognise their efforts, talents and commitment.”

Simon Knighton, Chairman of Sirona care & health, said: “We are delighted to continue our association with these awards which recognise some of the fantastic work going on in our communities.  Our services in Bath and North East Somerset – Residential Homes, extra care schemes and our Community Equipment service – benefit hugely from being a part of their local communities and see daily many acts of great kindness that make a big difference to individuals.”

Vanessa Collier, Community Development Manager at Curo, said: “Curo is delighted to be a partner in recognising the outstanding work of individuals and groups volunteering their time and expertise out in our local communities across Bath & North East Somerset, we should be extremely proud and honoured of each and every one who is nominated.”

Peter Lambert, Chair of the Student Community Partnership said: “The Chair’s Awards are an excellent initiative that rewards contributions to the local community. The recipients are an inspiring example to others and should be proud of their achievements.”

Full details and nomination forms are available online at:

Alternatively, you can email, call 01225 396594 or write to The Chair’s Office, Bath & North East Somerset Council, The Guildhall, High Street, Bath BA1 5AW. The deadline for nominations is Friday 1st December, 2017.


Going for growth says West of England Mayor.

Going for growth says West of England Mayor.

Economic growth that benefits every resident is at the core of a new vision for the West of England, launched today (Wednesday 26 July).

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles and Interim Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership, Professor Steve West, presented the draft strategy to delegates at the University of the West of England.


West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles (right), with LEP Interim Chair, Professor Steve West.

“Over the next four years, in partnership with the councils and business, I will lead a region that delivers economic growth for all, ensuring residents benefit from more job opportunities, a stronger economy and higher quality of life,” said Tim.

“Since I was elected in May, I’ve been working with our council partners, businesses, universities and colleges, housing and transport providers, and learned more about their challenges and priorities. This draft strategy has been developed as a result of those conversations and will become the framework around which important future decisions, including funding decisions, will be made.”

He said three priorities are beginning to emerge: “The first priority is to build on our strengths as a leader in innovation, high tech and creativity, and continue to nurture successful businesses. Secondly we need to ensure that our residents have the right skills for our regional businesses. Thirdly we must put the foundations in place to create more homes that are affordable, improve public transport, roads, cycle and pedestrian routes, as well as digital connectivity.

“We have a great opportunity, working together, to get this right. I would like businesses, organisations and others to get involved and give us their views on the draft strategy and how we can drive economic growth for all.”

Professor Steve West said: “This is our chance to get serious about how we work together to promote the unique benefits of our fantastic region. The West of England has a lot to offer with good links to London, the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. We have world-class universities, industry and healthcare sectors and we need to build on our significant heritage and strengths.

“The LEP is fully behind this regional strategy and we will do everything in our power to create an ambitious, prosperous and sustainable future for all. To do that we must think and operate strategically and for the long-term. We will need significant investment over many years and we must all work effectively with one voice to deliver that investment, and make the most of this huge opportunity to create a world-leading city region. This is about our collective futures – we need to be ambitious and focused to deliver a more equal and sustainable future for all.”

The draft strategy is available on the West of England Combined Authority website – – where there is also an online questionnaire to provide feedback.

This feedback will be incorporated into a final strategy to be published in the autumn, which will used to inform the West of England Combined Authority’s more detailed plans, priorities and funding decisions.

The West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership are joint authors of the draft strategy discussion paper. The Combined Authority covers Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire and supports the LEP and Joint Committee, which includes North Somerset.


How do you want B&NES wards re-drawn?

How do you want B&NES wards re-drawn?

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking local people for their help to draw up a new pattern of council wards for Bath and North East Somerset Council.

The consultation is the first part of an electoral review which will re-draw ward boundaries across the council area.

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The current wards within B&NES

The Commission has also announced that it is minded to recommend that the council should have 59 councillors in the future: six fewer than the current arrangements.

The Commission now needs information from people and groups across Bath and North East Somerset to help it to produce a new pattern of wards to accommodate 59 councillors.

In drawing up new boundaries, the Commission aims to deliver electoral equality for voters in council elections so that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters. The review also aims to ensure that the new council wards reflect, as far as possible, the interests and identities of communities across Bath and North East Somerset.

Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Commission, said: “We are asking local people and organisations to help us draw up new wards for Bath and North East Somerset. As we develop the recommendations, we will take into account local community identities as well as ensuring electoral equality for voters.

“If you have a view about which communities or neighbourhoods should be part of the same council ward, then we want to hear from you. And if you think a road, river or railway makes for a strong boundary between communities in your part of Bath and North East Somerset, then this consultation is for you. Alternatively, if you’re simply interested in the way the council is run, just log on to our website to explore our interactive maps and have your say.

“Your views will make a difference.

“We will carefully consider all evidence that is provided during this phase of the review whoever it is from and whether it applies to the whole of Bath and North East Somerset or just a small part of the council area.

“Residents will then have a further chance to have their say after we publish our draft recommendations in December.”

Local people have until 2 October to submit their views. Further information on the review and interactive maps of the existing wards can be found at