Time to take speed out of our hands?

Time to take speed out of our hands?

Do speed limits work? B&NES – along with many other local authorities – got itself caught up in the zeigest of 20 mph restrictions in urban areas. The little round discs have gone up everywhere and basically been ignored.

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Come and watch them speed up and down the Gloucester Road to the A46 link – or tremble in fear as vans wizz through St Saviour’s Road in Larkhall as you try and keep out of their way on a  broken and slanting strip of neglected pavement.

Our local authority says it will wait for the results of a national transport study on their effectiveness before deciding on a next move.  Whether to keep them, reduce the number of signs or scrap them altogether.

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It has always struck me as a strange that the onus has always been on the driver to heed the warning signs and/or be aware of speed and conditions in relation to the world outside of his/her mechanical bubble.

I have noticed the growth of those electronic flashing signs – usually powered by a solar cell – that flash your speed and ask you to reduce it.

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We either heed the warning or ignore it – but here maybe is where it is time to take the decision taking away from the irresponsible driver and give it – instead – to the sign.

Why don’t governments come together and insist upon motor manufacturers installing an intelligent ‘speed inhibitor’ into every vehicle that leaves the production line.

Install a device on road speed signs that sends a signal to the car and makes it comply with the speed limit. Basically overriding the driver’s right to comply or ignore.

Just think of the dramatic fall in road casualties. The reduction of multi-pile-ups and jams on our motorways. All this and the prospect of driverless cars that will stick to the limits regardless.

Technically it must be possible to do such a thing – but I can imagine the outcry. The effect on the sale of ‘little boys’ toys’ – the expensive multi-cylindered, sleek and throaty, gaudy-coloured monsters of the sports car and saloon world.

How dare they – the authorities – tell us what to do! It’s been great – in the sepia-coloured memories of the ‘old days’ – to talk about personal liberties and – in this case – the freedom of the open road – but the world doesn’t work like that anymore.

For homo sapiens to survive we have to start pulling together. Global warming, over population, destruction of the natural world, elimination of other species, nuclear war, famine, disease….. None of these threats to our continued existence – and that of this planet – can be faced without us coming together to take international action.

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No doubt such intelligent road signs would be treated with the same contempt as speed cameras. Cut down, shot or set alight! But you wouldn’t need speed cameras anymore to punish you for ignoring the limit.

Come to think of it – maybe there is the technology to use satellites – or police drones – to watch us all and cut our speed by way of signals sent to that limiting device under the bonnet.

Time for us all to stop being Mr Toad – the character from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. Remember when a speeding motor car rushes by his horse-drawn caravan on that fictional open road that he, Ratty and Mole were traversing?

“It was on them! The “Poop-poop” rang with a brazen shout in their ears, they had a moment’s glimpse of an interior of glittering plate-glass and rich morocco, and the magnificent motor-car, immense, breath-snatching, passionate, with its pilot tense and hugging his wheel, possessed all earth and air for the fraction of a second, flung an enveloping cloud of dust that blinded and enwrapped them utterly, and then dwindled to a speck in the far distance, changed back into a droning bee once more.”

The horse bolted. The caravan upturned in a ditch. Toad – suitably dazed and sitting – outstretched – in the middle of the road. Uninjured and mesmerised by what has just sped past them.

“And to think I never knew!” went on the Toad in a dreamy monotone. “All those wasted years that lie behind me, I never knew, never even dreamt! But now—but now that I know, now that I fully realise! O what a flowery track lies spread before me, henceforth! What dust-clouds shall spring up behind me as I speed on my reckless way! “

We don’t live in such a great work of fiction. Time to face reality.

 

 

Looking Back

Looking Back

Your chance to have a nosey around the recently refurbished Bath Record Office with a ‘Drop-In Day’ on Monday 11 September, 9am-4.30pm.

The public are invited to come and explore the revamped rooms and browse the Open Access book collection. They can also visit the new Library strongroom where hundreds of historic documents and books are stored.

The archivists and Local Studies Librarian will be on hand to welcome people and show them around.

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L to R. Volunteer Kerri Sant and Hannah Tinkler,who is Project Archivist at Bath Record Office.

Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield) Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “The drop-in day is a great opportunity for anyone interested in researching local history or tracing their family tree to find out about the facilities on offer at Bath Record Office. The Record Office is a treasure trove of fascinating information about the local area, and is completely free to visit.”

Located in the Guildhall, and run by Bath & North East Somerset Council, the Record Office is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In the early days the archive contained just the Council’s own records, but since 1967 archivists have collected many thousands of documents from local businesses, families, private and public organisations, all of which tell the story of life in Bath over the centuries.

The Council’s Local Studies collection ­– which includes local history reference books, manuscripts, maps, photographs and other historic items – was recently combined with the archives at Bath Record Office. At the same time, the Record Office was refurbished, with new public spaces, WiFi in the research rooms, and additional PCs, desks and book shelves.

Drop-in event, no advance booking required.

For more information please visit www.batharchives.co.uk.

Where do you want the Central Library to go?

Where do you want the Central Library to go?

 

Looks like our last chance coming up to have any influence on where Bath’s Central Library moves to.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet has approved proposals for the final in a series of consultations surrounding its intention to integrate the Library and One Stop Shop in Bath.

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Having said that – they only offer a choice of two sites –  and say that leaving the library where it is would rob them of a saving of £400,000 a year.

A press release states: “The aim is to combine library and customer services in Bath to reach more people from all ages and backgrounds, providing a place where everyone in the community can access support, knowledge, culture and events to help them reach their full potential.  At the same time, integrating these services in Bath will help save up to £400,000 a year as part of the Council’s wider Modern Libraries programme, which is expected to save a total of £800,000 a year.

The Council has been listening to the views of the community and is now consulting on the location of the joined up service. It has identified two viable locations from the five original options that can deliver the full range of library and One Stop Shop services. These are Lewis House in Manvers Street and The Podium in Northgate Street.

As part of developing the business case the Council looked at five options for the location – doing nothing, integrating in a purpose-built facility, integrating at Lewis House, integrating in The Podium and integrating in The Guildhall. The remaining three options have been fully assessed and ruled out due to a combination of lack of availability, high cost or building constraints and access.

Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “The Cabinet has met and approved the next phase of the consultation process and we are keen for as many people as possible to give us their feedback. I am pleased that we have been able to put forward a choice to residents for the location of a combined Library and One Stop Shop, both of which can deliver a full range of library and One Stop Shop services.

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Cllr Warren added: “Whilst other Councils are closing libraries, we are looking for innovative ways to protect our library service and put it onto a sustainable long-term footing whilst at the same time delivering the savings we need to make.

“By integrating our Library and One Stop Shop services we can both improve the service we offer residents and ensure it is sustainable for the future. Integrating these services in Bath will help save up to up to £400,000 a year whilst protecting and enhancing all the services residents value. Alongside the integration of the Midsomer Norton Library and our wider Modern Libraries programme, this will help us save £800,000 a year whilst safeguarding this valued service.

“The consultation runs for just over eight weeks to ensure that as many residents as possible have time to respond. At this stage, no decisions have been made on the location of the new service. Once the final location has been agreed, we will ask a cross section of the community to work with us on developing the design so that it meets the needs of users of both services.”

The Council will be working with a cross section of the community to improve the inclusivity of the service and encourage many people particularly from lower incomes, who traditionally make less use of library facilities, to come forward to make increasing use of the library.

The consultation, a full comparison of the two locations and the business case is available online via the Council’s website www.bathnes.gov.uk/modernlibrary and copies are available in all libraries and One Stop Shops throughout Bath and North East Somerset.

 

The consultation will run from Thursday 20 July until Friday 15 September.

 

The benefits of an integrated service

A combined service gives visitors convenient access to a wide range of useful services, including library services, Council customer services, and the services provided by our partner and voluntary organisations, in one well-designed, modern space, supported by free  Wi-Fi and up-to-date PCs and technology.

The proposals include plenty of books on shelves for borrowing and great spaces for children’s activities, cultural events and exhibitions.

The final design will depend on the outcome of the consultations but the vision for the integration of services is both physical and cultural:

  • A single integrated safe space providing access to information, support and signposting for the whole community
  • A place providing digital access and encouraging digital literacy with self-service facilities and free use of computers for training or self-use.
  • Books and other items for borrowing to increase literacy and encourage the love of reading
  • Spaces for workshops, events and exhibitions for cultural and creative enrichment
  • Safe dedicated areas for children, young people and families for reading, study and play
  • Experienced staff on hand, as well as partner, voluntary and third sector organisations, to help people find the services they need and improve their well-being
  • Comfortable spaces for reading, study or working, helping everyone achieve their full potential through learning and access to information.”

 

 

Cabinet confirms NO car park on Meadows.

Cabinet confirms NO car park on Meadows.

B&NES Cabinet has confirmed the decision NOT to go ahead with the proposed East of Bath car park on Bathampton Meadows.

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Looking down on Bathampton Meadows from the side of Solsbury Hill.

Members also agreed to continue implementing new opportunities to address the issues of traffic and transport in Bath, particularly to the east of the city.

The Cabinet decision reiterates its commitment to reduce congestion on arterial routes, improve air quality and support economic growth.

Some of the measures set out by the Council include:

  • working with Highways England  and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to reduce to a minimum through traffic from Bath including looking at a possible eastern relief road;
  • holding discussions with the West of England and South Glos Council about improving the signage and route to and from Lansdown P&R, particularly at the junction of Freezing Hill Lane and the A420, to make Lansdown a more convenient option for those travelling from the M4/A46 and enable potential future expansion;
  • improving access to Odd Down P&R by repositioning the bus lane and opening it up to cars accessing the P&R, again enabling potential greater use of this existing site in future years;
  • holding further discussions with Wiltshire about potential opportunities further out from the city, potentially linked to an extended MetroWest rail service;
  • undertaking a scoping study for a light rail (tram) system in Bath and whether this could open up future opportunities to remove vehicles from the city;
  • improving walking and cycling routes;
  • undertaking a study of ‘School Run’ transport needs and solutions and consider any further opportunities to expand the Council’s existing ‘safe routes to school’ programme.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip) said: “Improving transport and tackling Bath’s traffic problems remain one of our highest priorities, which is why we have set out a range of measures aimed at addressing this important issue.

This includes reducing through traffic in the city, looking into the feasibility of a light-rail tram system, improving access routes to our existing Park & Rides, investing in local rail services, and holding further discussions with neighbouring councils about potential opportunities further out from the city.

“It’s no secret that the eastern Park & Ride has long been a challenging issue for the city, with strong views on both sides of the debate. However, after talking with engineers, visiting the locations again and discussing options with our partners, we have taken this decision – which recognises the wider picture and incorporates the broadest view of new opportunities.”

Councillor Mark Shelford (Conservative, Lyncombe), Cabinet Member for Transport and Highways, said: “I have asked our officers to look at setting out alternative transport and travel schemes that can be considered to reduce the levels of congestion on the roads in the east of the city and subsequently included in a delivery plan. We are conscious of the impact of too much traffic on too few roads, particularly at peak times, and committed to dealing with the issues.

“No single transport initiative in isolation has the power to transform our travel choices, cut congestion, improve air quality or ease parking issues. That is why we also asked officers to review all of the potential transport initiatives as well as new opportunities from trams to the possibility of increasing the frequency of rail services to the east.

“One of the game changers is the formation of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). Over the next 30 years, £1bn of investment from central government and other sources will be made available to support the economic growth of our region. This level of investment unlocks opportunities at a scale not seen before and we need to factor this into our long term planning.”

 

Tory councillor resigns over missed Council Tax.

Tory councillor resigns over missed Council Tax.

Councillor Martin Veal has resigned his position as Cabinet Member for Community Services with immediate effect.

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Cllr Martin Veal

In a statement he says he has taken the decision

‘due to missed payments of Council Tax on a property I own. I was not a resident of this property, and reconstruction work was underway over an extended period of time, meaning nobody was residing in the property.

However, I accept full responsibility and these payments have now been settled in full with the Council.

Given these circumstances, I took the decision that the right thing to do was to resign from my position on the Council’s Cabinet.

I would like to apologise to both residents and colleagues for this oversight, which has now been fully rectified.

I look forward to continuing to serve the residents of Bathavon North as their local councillor.  I do not intend to make any further statement on the matter.

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Tim Warren will be temporarily taking over responsibility for Community Services until permanent arrangements are made.

A spokesperson said: “The Council would like to place on record its thanks to Councillor Veal for his hard work and service on the Cabinet over the past 2 years as a Cabinet Member. Councillor Veal will continue to represent his ward as a councillor on Bath & North East Somerset Council.

The Council says it will be making no further comment.

 

 

Another unwelcome tourist attraction!

Another unwelcome tourist attraction!

Will you just look at the state of the Laura Place fountain!

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Don’t know whether it’s been recent liquid soap attacks that have put the pump out of action but there is no water running.

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A stagnant pool of algae and the tip of a traffic cone making a mini yellow island in a pool of green.

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It is so sad. B&NES manages to get business to ‘sponsor’ flower beds on traffic islands – so why can’t it get a local firm to sponsor the fountain.

If you are not going to maintain it then get rid of it and save yourself the expense.

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Meanwhile, l hear they are going to try stronger bolts to secure what is left of the cycle hoops outside the Guildhall. This is expensive gun metal which is not fit for purpose.

Surely it is cheaper, in the long run, to replace them with racks that actually work. More money going down the drain!

One of Bath’s war time restaurants to disappear?

One of Bath’s war time restaurants to disappear?

A little bit of Bath’s wartime history may soon disappear under the bulldozer.

News is reaching me that Parkside in Charlotte Street Car Park is to be demolished to make way for a new coach park. The  Virgin Care Health Visitors based there are being relocated to Twerton and the NHS staff to Locksbrook Road.

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Is this the end for the Parkside building?

The building was originally constructed as a British Restaurant – one of three in the city during the last war.

Bath City Council received a directive from the Ministry of Food in July 1941 requesting the erection of one or more British Restaurants, to provide ‘day-to-day feeding of the population and to act as a first line of defence in an emergency’.

 

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Parkside is the building in the distance.

 

The first to be built was inside the Charlotte Street entrance (named Parkside as a result of a newspaper competition) which opened in August 1942, followed by two others; Hillside (Oldfield Park), and Riverside (Walcot).

Parkside was the most used, serving 900 lunches a day, 30 teas and 70 suppers (open between l0 a.m. and 8.30 p.m., the cost of an average three-course lunch being set at 9d), and a dance was held there each month.

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The old British Restaurant building.

After the Ministry withdrew support for the scheme in April 1947, the Council purchased the buildings which they continued to run under the name of Civic Restaurants. Parkside was the last to close, at the end of 1950, by which time the spare ground on the north side of the building was already in use as a car park.

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The Charlotte Street Car Park

Parkside was the last to close, at the end of 1950, by which time the spare ground on the north side of the building was already in use as a car park.

The building subsequently became Parkside Junior School (closed 2006), and is now a Children’s Centre.

I have asked B&NES for comment.