Flood works tree felling underway.

Flood works tree felling underway.

Bath & North East Somerset Council has started removing trees and vegetation on the south side of the River Avon near Churchill Bridge. It is part the next phase of works to transform the riverside in Bath as part of its flood mitigation works.

The Bath Quays Waterside project, which started in 2016, involves flood mitigation and defence works to the north and south banks of the River Avon, between Churchill Bridge and Midland Bridge.

Once completed, the project will reduce flood risk for more than 100 existing residential and commercial properties and enable the development of Bath Quays, a new office and creative quarter.

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The start of tree removal on the south side of the river.

Following on from the completion of the new south facing park late last year, the next phase of flood defence work will has begun, to remove trees and vegetation on the south side of the river adjacent to Bath Quays South (Newark Works) site, in preparation for completing the flood defence wall and lowering the river bank along this section.

New trees and planting will ultimately be introduced, completing the council’s programme to introduce more than 150 new trees to the river corridor at Bath Quays.

In addition, ecological enhancements will be incorporated including a new bat roost and an otter holt.

Councillor Paul Myers, (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield) cabinet member for Economic & Community Regeneration, said:  “The regeneration of this area will bring a wide range of benefits to the economy and the ecology of this area. Together with additional tree planting on the south bank, this will improve the long-term resilience of the riverside ecology and reinforce the presence of the River Avon as a wildlife corridor in the heart of Bath. Through these improvements the riverside has not only become a new destination in the city centre, it also provides a distinctive place for relaxed sitting, strolling and observing nature right in the heart of the city.”

The completion of the flood defence along the south edge of the river, will be undertaken as part of the Bath Quays South development scheme which is envisaged to commence in the spring.

 

Never too late to learn

Never too late to learn

At 88 years old, local resident Jack Ladevèze is Bath Spa University’s oldest graduate to receive an MA in Travel and Nature Writing, proving that it is never too late to learn.
Image 1 for press - Bath Spa University's oldest graduate, Jack Ladeveze

Bath Spa University’s oldest graduate, Jack Ladevèze

Jack, who received his award at the University’s Winter graduation ceremony at the Bath Assembly Rooms, spent two years studying part-time to hone his writing skills while examining the history, context and genres of travel and nature writing.
 
Jack said: “As a very experienced traveller I was immediately attracted to studying for an MA in Travel and Nature Writing, and decided that 2016 would be the year to further my learning. When I started the course I explained to my tutors that my only writing experience was as an accountant, preparing a document for a tax counsel to consider, so the learning curve was rather steep but highly enjoyable.
 
“The course has enabled me to see life from a distinct perspective. I most enjoyed meeting other students whose ages ranged from early twenties to mid-thirties, forties and over sixty. At eighty-eight I feel as though I was a good addition and brought variety to the group.
 
“Using a range of styles and formats, together with a reflective diary of my progress, I am pleased to say I have produced a portfolio of twenty of my best items of work including experiences and observations I have made while travelling such as encountering bears, birds, volcanoes and documenting the sounds in nature. I plan to modify my portfolio and add to it to create a book. My next aim will be to have it published.
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Bath Spa University MA Travel and Nature Writing graduate Jack Ladevèze at the University’s Winter graduation ceremony

 
“To others contemplating a Master’s degree, my advice would be ‘have a go’, it brought out abilities in me of which I was not aware. My tutors were very helpful and the overall studying experience was very stimulating.”
 
Jack’s connection with the University goes beyond his own love of learning. In 2016, he and his wife Audrey Ladevèze established the Bath Spa University Writing Award for students wishing to study for a Master’s in Creative Writing. Each year the £1,000 award is given to a student who has demonstrated outstanding talent in writing, enabling them to progress their studies to Master’s level.
 
Jack and Audrey are also trustees of the Enid Linder Foundation. Through this they sponsor the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Illustration Awards that many Bath Spa students enter each year.
Image 3 - Jack and Audrey with Bath Spa's Chancellor Jeremy Irons and Vice-Chancellor Susan Rigby

Bath Spa University graduate Jack Ladevèze and wife Audrey Ladevèze with Bath Spa University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Susan Rigby and Chancellor Jeremy Irons

Over the years, Jack and Audrey have donated a beautiful collection of V&A Illustration Awards prize-winning books and papers to Bath Spa University. The unique collection, housed in the University’s library at its Newton Park campus, shows the changing nature of book illustration and design over 20 years and is a valuable learning resource for both students and staff.
 
Jack added: “Our initial contact with the University was on the occasion of our proposal to donate a collection of work from the winners and runners-up from the V&A Museum’s Illustration Awards, which as Trustees of the Enid Linder Foundation we have sponsored. We had a collection of these selected books and felt that they could be useful for Creative Writing and illustration students to consider the changes over a period of some twenty years.”
 
In his spare time Jack, who is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, likes to travel and enjoys spending quality time with his wife in France.
 
Jack is committed to developing his knowledge further. He added: “I am currently taking a module in art, past and present, through the Open University. My spare time is spent travelling, although I do not consider that spare time but more of a continuous task. I also like to paint in watercolour, a very relaxing pleasure, and I have been known to try wood carving from time to time.”
 
The MA in Travel and Nature Writing at Bath Spa University is designed for writers seeking advanced skills in creative non-fiction inspired by the natural world and contemporary travelling.
 
To find out more visit the MA in Travel and Nature Writing course page on the Bath Spa University website.
Get on with it!

Get on with it!

What is it with repair jobs in Bath? Months ago one of the toll houses on the Cleveland Bridge was rudely bashed by ‘hit and run’ merchants.

 

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Cleveland Bridge

 

It cannot be much fun living in somewhere covered in roof-supporting-scaffolding and canvas, but it has also been a nightmare for pedestrians trying to cross the busy road or try and walk alongside it.

 

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There’s a temporary central island at this point.

 

The Council has put in some temporary pedestrian-friendly arrangement – a temporary central island – to lessen the danger but for how long will this state of affairs have to continue.

 

We know there’s insurance to sort out and English Heritage to consult but this should be ‘fast-tracked’ as a matter of urgency and is most certainly an ever-present blot on the landscape.

 

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A wall waiting to be repaired

 

We have a smaller example of plodding officialdom in our street. A portion of wall has collapsed – surrounding a field to one side of our terrace. How long can it take to look up the owner in the Land Registry and get repairs moving?

Our narrow little rat run of a street is dangerous enough without this added obstacle.

Meanwhile, while we’re talking about Cleveland Bridge, Tony Howell writes:

“It’s not only the buildings. The centre of the road here (see photo below) has a DEEP groove in it. In this picture, you can just see the beginning of it.
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It runs longitudinally, it’s deep, and I frequently am almost thrown off my scooter. At night, for cyclists and m/cyclists it is a potential death trap.
One doesn’t wish to whinge, although one does, oft times, but there is no question that Bath is decaying before our eyes.
“Private Wealth, public squalor”.

 

Should we let the ‘ad men’ into Bath’s parks?

Should we let the ‘ad men’ into Bath’s parks?

Being driven through Bristol recently l was only able to get a quick snap of a protest sign that has gone up in Haymarket ‘bearpit’ which is trying to gain public support against a proposal to allow advertising in city parks.

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Part of the protest board on the Haymarket in Bristol.

Would we entertain a similar scheme in Bath to try and raise much-needed revenue for our cash-strapped local authority? There’s already talk of sponsored litter-bins. I wouldn’t mind that if it means they get emptied on a more regular basis.

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MInerva’s Temple – brought from the Empire Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and re-erected here in 1913-14.

 

Big posters inside the Sydney Gardens temple might stop endless graffiti appearing on its ‘labouring’ walls. While canal side advertising might attract attention from boat people and walkers and help pay for maintenance work?

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The Kennet and Avon through Sydney Gardens.

Certainly, the litter bins could be sponsored by pet food manufacturers as dog owners are one of the biggest users of city parks.

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A bin outside Hedgemead Park.

I am being deliberately provocative to spark discussion. Over to you!?

 

Bath Spa celebrates roll in Silk River programme.

Bath Spa celebrates roll in Silk River programme.

 
Staff from Bath Spa University recently took part in a year-long programme of cultural exchange that celebrated the cultural ties and history between the UK and India.
The Silk River programme launched last February at an official ceremony at Buckingham Palace and was part of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017, a government initiative that marked the seventieth anniversary of Indian-independence.

Silk River Project - Image 1 for press - Silk River team in Murshidabad

The Silk River team in Murshidabad

Led by internationally renowned arts company Kinetika and supported by the Arts Council England and British Council, Silk River explored the relationship between twenty communities living alongside the banks of the rivers Thames and Hooghly.
Bath Spa University was a key partner in the programme. Other partners included the Crafts Council of India West Bengal, Future Hope, Murshidabad Heritage Development Society, Jungle Crows, Kinetika, Rural Crafts Hubs of West Bengal, Think Arts and West Bengal Tourism.
As part of the programme a team of international artists, writers and photographers led by Kinetika’s founder and Artistic Director Ali Pretty, worked together to gather stories from people living and working alongside the River Thames and River Hooghly. Twenty hand-painted hand-woven silk scrolls were created to show the shared heritage between each community.
Two performative walks were held to celebrate the end of Silk River. The Silk River UK walk took place in September and saw staff from Bath Spa University walk from Kew Gardens to Southend over the course of ten days.

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Silk River closing ceremony at the Victoria Memorial Hall

The Silk River India walk took place last month. Over the duration of twelve days, staff from Bath Spa University travelled from Azimgani, Murshidabad to Batanagar, Koltaka. They were joined by UK delegates and key members from each of the ten River Hooghly communities.
They met with members of the community to discover the rich heritage of the region and participated in a series of talks and cultural programmes which raised awareness of the UK and India’s relationship.
The twenty scrolls were carried by participants from each walk from the starting destination to the end destination.
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Exhibition of the Silk River scrolls at the Victoria Memorial Hall

Last month staff from Bath Spa University travelled to India to attend an official closing ceremony at the Victoria Memorial Hall in Koltaka.
Mike Johnston, Senior Lecturer in Broadcast Media Production at Bath Spa University, interviewed key partners and documented the walks. He attended artist workshops in the UK and India, and photographed the development of the scrolls.
He said: “I have been involved with Silk River since last year. The scrolls were exhibited at Kew Gardens for a week before the emphasis moved back to India. The walk in India was very successful. We had a significant turnout from British and Indian participants.
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Another view of the exhibition of the Silk River scrolls at the Victoria Memorial Hall

“The Victoria Memorial Hall is an incredible building and it was great to have the closing ceremony there.”
The scrolls were paraded at the closing ceremony where dancers and musicians performed. Representatives from each of the ten River Thames and ten River Hooghly communities attended the ceremony along with the British Council and the West Bengal Government Home Secretary.
Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, British High Commissioner to India, and Alan Gemmell OBE, British Council India Director, also attended the ceremony and delivered speeches.
Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, said: “It’s been inspiring what we’ve been seeing, not just the colours but the enthusiasm, the amount of determination and commitment over the years to make this a reality. It’s what I call the living bridge – it is bringing communities together in the UK and India in a way that is really relevant to the communities that they exist in.”
Alan Gemmell OBE, added: “Silk River has been at the heart of our mission to use the Year of Culture to celebrate the modern day relationship between our two countries, to connect with people and to inspire them to build a relationship for the next seventy years. It’s been a wonderful event.”
The scrolls were exhibited at the Victoria Memorial Hall after the ceremony.
Lee Scott, Subject Leader for Creative Computing at Bath Spa University, and Bath Spa Creative Computing students created a website for the programme which features news on Silk River, photographs and video footage from the walks. Lee also created a web app for the programme which showcases all of the scrolls.
He said: “It has been a great pleasure working with Kinetika and Mike Johnston on Silk River. It’s always fantastic when our students get to work on high-quality client projects.”
Kevin Rushby, Travel Journalist for The Guardian participated in both walks and wrote a daily blog about each route for the Silk River website.
The rubbish​ problem on your doorstep B&NES!

The rubbish​ problem on your doorstep B&NES!

Out in the suburbs, we have all been given either strengthened sacks or wheelie bins in which to put our rubbish.

However, it seems, the same rule doesn’t apply in the city centre where various private firms have contracts to pick up commercial waste.

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There is foodstuff spilling out of this ripped bag.

I have never heard of mixed recycled bags containing food but this one obviously did and that’s why it’s been pecked open – just across the road from the B&NES Guildhall too!

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Rubbish – almost on the Guildhall steps – B&NES!

I am hearing the contractors only make one round and – if bags are not left out at the right time – they get missed.

Surely all bags should be marked with the name of the business leaving them on the street. That way, when blames needs to be apportioned, it goes to the right shop or cafe door.

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Pieces of cucumber and tomato spill out of this ‘recycling’ bag.

As a cyclist – and sitting above two wheels – l can vouch for how bad the inner-city roads are but this depression in the bus gate outside Waitrose was an obstacle l met on foot and nearly fell through stepping into it!

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The sooner B&NES gets a congestion charge and tourist tax in place the sooner there might be some money available to fix the roads!

Coming back home along the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath l was sad to see a board advertising the fact that planning permission has been granted for three homes to be built in a canalside garden.

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A canalside garden – which opens up views of the countryside beyond – is going to have three houses built upon it.

It’s going to means houses quite close to the canalside edge which – at this point – affords views of the countryside beyond.

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Not denying a successful local builder the right to build quality housing, but feel it’s a shame a patch of canal front is going to make way for three homes. Why B&NES?

I am not denying the builder the right to construct quality homes and – indeed – permission has been given – but shame B&NES can’t look at the bigger picture here.

 

Council cuts could take a ​toll on supported bus services.

Council cuts could take a ​toll on supported bus services.

Cuts to certain bus routes could be on the cards as B&NES reviews the provision of  services it supports financially.

The Council funds a number of them under contracts that are due to end during 2018, and is assessing them prior to carrying out a competitive tender process.

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The management of these contracts is jointly undertaken with the West of England Combined Authority, although all funding is currently provided by Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Roughly 90% of bus services in Bath and North East Somerset are operated on a commercial basis. In 2017/18, the Council spent £1.1 million on bus services that are not provided by the commercial operators.

Over £400,000 of this came from contributions made by developers or other third parties. These contributions are used to directly support services or improve frequencies and connections on existing services, and the Council will actively look for opportunities to increase such outside contributions where possible.

Councillor Mark Shelford, (Conservative Lyncombe), Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment, said: “To help us make decisions on the future of these services we are seeking the views of residents and users of the services as to the best and most appropriate way to proceed.

“No decisions over any of the routes have been made and the Council has no preferences over the various options at this stage. This is an open consultation and we want to hear everyone’s views. The responses will help us develop the detail of specifications for any contracts that are re-tendered.

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The Council’s bus ‘consultation’ web page.

“Although bus operators are not obliged to consult users before making changes to their commercial route network, the Council is keen to hear the views of users on the services it supports financially, to help inform its decisions.”

Responding to the need for change

Bath & North East Somerset Council faces a number of changes, opportunities and challenges over the next two years as it seeks to re-shape itself in light of continuing national policy change, increases in demand for key services, rising costs and the need to become financially more self-sufficient as the grant from national Government reduces.

The Council is already in the process of saving £27 million, and announced £15 million of savings in last year’s budget. However, we now have to save a further £16 million by 2020.

This means that the Council has to prioritise how to spend the public funding it has available to it.

The Council is publishing details of all the supported bus services involved, and setting out potential options for how we might make changes.  There are options to redesign services to save money, or withdraw services if there are more efficient options available or if the services do not offer good value for money.

The bus services being consulted on are:

  • Services 2, 6A, 8, 9, 265:                  Evening Services in Bath
  • Service 20A/C:                                   Bath Circular services
  • Service 82/82A:                                 Paulton – Westfield – Radstock Tyning
  • Service 172:                                       Bath – Midsomer Norton – Paulton (evenings)
  • Service 179:                                       Bath – Timsbury – Radstock – Writhlington (evenings and Sundays)
  • Service 672 & 67:                              Blagdon- Bristol via Bishop Sutton, Chew Magna, and Dundry
  • Service 768:                                       Clutton – Radstock – Timsbury – Englishcombe – Bath 
  • Service A4:                                        Early morning service from Chandag Estate in Keynsham

For all services, the Council intends that fares will be aligned with commercial fare levels in the area, and consideration will be given to offering bus service operators the opportunity to raise fares to make services viable. All consultees are invited to submit their views on specific issues such as timetabling, routing, frequency, fares, or any other matter affecting one or more of the individual services.

Further details are available on the Council website: www.bathnes.gov.uk/consultations/public-consultation-contracts-supported-bus-services where people can also take part in the consultation.

 

The consultation has also been directly sent to local ward councillors, parish and town councils, bus operators, and stakeholders including bus user groups.

 

People are being asked to submit any comments, proposals, or suggestions by Wednesday 31st January 2018, either through the online consultation or via email topublic_transport@bathnes.gov.uk so that these can be considered when decisions are made on the future of the services.

 

ENDS