Public to see new traffic pollution plan later this spring.

Public to see new traffic pollution plan later this spring.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is reviewing air quality across the district in preparation for the development of a new Air Quality Action Plan which will be presented for public consultation later this spring.

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Traffic queuing into Bath on the London Road.

To protect people’s health and the environment, local authorities have a duty to review and assess air quality to ensure it meets national air quality objectives.  Where specific air quality targets are exceeded the Council must develop a plan to tackle the problem.

In common with many other areas of the country, the main source of pollution in Bath and North East Somerset is traffic, and national air quality objectives for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) have been exceeded in some areas.

The Council currently has 3 Air Quality Management Areas in Bath, Keynsham and Saltford.  Recommendations have been put forward and specific initiatives have been implemented to mitigate the levels of nitrogen dioxide in these areas.

The Council’s current Air Quality Action Plan for Bath was drawn up 5 years ago and an updated plan is now being drawn up prior to the formal consultation required by law. Local people will be consulted on changes to the plan later this spring.

Previous initiative successes have included:

·         The inclusion of The Daily Air Quality Index dials on our website (live). They inform the public about levels of air pollution and provide recommended actions and health advice. http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/environment/pollution/air-quality

·         A new road scheme in the central area of Widcombe which resulted in a significant drop in NO2 concentrations.

·         Our ‘Low Emission Zone Feasibility Study’ was completed in 2014 funded from a DEFRA air quality grant and it is what directed us towards recently bidding for the funding to implement a bus and taxi central area Clean Air Zone. 

·         The installation of 20 public electric vehicle charging points across the district, including Park & Ride sites.  These are currently supplied with free electricity. We are now building upon this success with expansion of the Source West EV charging network to 600 charge points (fast, rapid, lamp-post chargers etc) across the district with the other West of England authorities.

‘Next bike’ cycle hire scheme to try and reduce the journeys taken by cars.

We were also successful in applying for finance along with our West of England partners for the ‘Go Ultra Low City Scheme. This Scheme provides a huge opportunity to reduce traffic emissions in B&NES’s three air quality management areas and help public sector and businesses reduce their transport costs and improve their environmental credentials.

The Council is also working on traffic management plans to remove pinch points on main roads – such as the provision of a bypass to the east of Bath in the form of the A46/36 link – and the enhancement of train services via the MetroWest project.

Bath and North East Somerset, and Bath in particular, is facing the same challenges as other similar cities. Following an unsuccessful bid to the DEFRA air quality grant programme for funding to promote air quality initiatives across the authority, the Council is continuing to look for alternative funding streams.

Bath & North East Somerset Council has a comprehensive monitoring network for air quality which includes over 80 diffusion tube sites, 2 portable air quality monitors and 4 static continuous air quality monitors.  This network is continually being reviewed to ensure that data is robust and up to date, so that the Council can target resources towards the worst areas.

Another Cadbury closure links New Zealand and Keynsham.

Another Cadbury closure links New Zealand and Keynsham.

It’s amazing how social media has truly brought the world together and, in this particular instance, shown how the trauma of losing a major employer can impact on a community.

Many in Keynsham are still getting over the pain of how the town lost its identity when Cadbury’s new American owners Kraft decided to change their minds and close the factory they said they would save – back in 2011. It was at a cost of 1,000 jobs.

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The old Somerdale factory site

Things have moved on. The old red factory buildings are being turned into a retirement village and there’s new residential housing on the site and the promise of business units to hopefully bring new jobs.

Now, across the world in New Zealand, another Cadbury’s factory faces closure in Dunedin – the second largest city in the South Island.

The company is now owned by Mondelez International – a spin-off snacks-side business created by Kraft – and has cited increased costs and distance to its markets as making it untenable to continue the business – even though those who oppose the closure say it is still profitable. Three hundred and sixty people will lose their jobs.

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The Cadbury’s factory at Dunedin, New Zealand. © Mondelez International

The developing story is being covered by the city’s daily paper the Otago Daily Times – https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/bitter-aftertaste-cadburys-closing

By all means check out their website. In doing that, l found a story a reporter  from the Otago Daily Times had done on how Keynsham in the UK was still feeling the pain of its factory closure.

It is featured on the website of the New Zealand Herald via http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11807638  and well worth reading.

I am hoping they won’t mind me quoting a section of it. A report by Chris Morris.

“Stephen Rodgers, editor of the weekly Keynsham newspaper The Week In, told the ODT many in the town felt the company’s Quaker traditions had been “sold out by the Cadbury board to maximise profits and satisfy the concerns of institutional investors”.

Those Quaker values encouraged a loyal workforce, many of who remained in the town all their working lives.

But with so many staff close to retirement, the company was able to persuade them to accept enhanced redundancy packages, forcing the unions to “stand down”, he said.

And, despite a “continued and high-profile campaign” by town residents, “the ink was in effect dry on the deal”.

The town had survived the economic effects, and the former factory site provided much-needed space for 600 new homes, as well as the retirement village.But that did not mean the “resentment” had disappeared, he said.

“Cadbury was an icon that was very much a part of the town’s history and heritage … I think everyone felt there was a difference between what was morally right and corporately desirable.

“Of course, in such cases, the corporate argument always wins.”

Do visit the site to read the full report. A situation linking two towns that are  11,426 miles apart.

One way trial for Keynsham.

One way trial for Keynsham.

Bath & North East Somerset Council has announced details of the one-way trial for Keynsham High Street.

The trial scheme is in response to public support for the idea received during consultation on the Council’s Placemaking Plan and the Keynsham Transport Strategy. Residents in Keynsham wished to see an improved shopping experience, with reduced traffic making it quieter and less congested. If the trial is successful, it would enable permanent improvements to be made such as widening of the footways to give pedestrians more space.

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The proposed new system.

As part of the Keynsham, High Street trial, the following changes will take place: 

·         A one-way system will work southbound on the High Street from Charlton Road towards Bath Hill.

·         A new bus stop will be added southbound, while a cycle contraflow will be created northbound towards Charlton Road.

·         At the end of the High Street, all southbound traffic except buses, taxis and bicycles will need to turn left down Bath Hill.

·         The current roundabout at the top of Bath Hill will be removed, creating a junction here between the High Street and Bath Hill/Temple Street. There will be no right turn into the High Street for traffic coming up Bath Hill.

Ashton Way will remain two-way to all traffic. If the trial is successful, implementation of a permanent one-way system would enable more significant changes to be made to the High Street in future. These could include widening of the pedestrian areas and additional street furniture such as more public seating.

Cllr Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “The idea of trialling a one-way system on Keynsham High Street is something which has been discussed for many years and also gained a lot of support among residents during the consultation into the Keynsham Transport Strategy as a way of improving the pedestrian environment in the town centre.

“The Council’s Highways Design team has been working closely with ward councillors in Keynsham over the last couple of months to ensure that the proposed design for the trial will enable us to give the most accurate picture of traffic flows under the new arrangement.

“I am pleased to say that the inclusion of developer funding during this process has enabled construction of a new bus lay by in Ashton Way and the signalisation of the pedestrian crossing on Charlton Road, both of which will have long term benefits for Keynsham.”

Construction is expected to start in Ashton Way on Monday 27 February, with the trial layout expected to come into effect in May.

During the trial, we will be undertaking a paper-based and online consultation process with the public about how they would like to see the space on the High Street developed. The project web page at www.bathnes.gov.uk/keynsham will feature news and updates regarding opportunities to get involved in this process.

 

Record-breaking number of new homes built in B&NES

Record-breaking number of new homes built in B&NES

 

A record number of new homes were built in Bath and North East Somerset during the past year.

A total of 809 new homes were built in the 2015/16 financial year, representing the highest number since Bath & North East Somerset Council was created in 1996, and significantly higher than the long-term average over the last 20 years of around 450 per year.

Taking action to deliver new homes and job is one of the Council’s six corporate priorities, and the record number of homes completed in the past year demonstrates that the Council is delivering upon its Core Strategy development plan, which has set targets for delivering 13,000 new homes, including 3,290 affordable units, between April 2011 and March 2029.

Of the 809 new homes built in the past year 70% were on previously developed land, and the Council has achieved its target of delivering 30-40% affordable housing provision in 92% of eligible planning applications that were approved in 2015/16.

Cllrs Tim Warren & Liz Richardson

Council Leader Councillor Tim Warren, and Councillor Liz Richardson, Cabinet Member for Homes & Planning, at the Somerdale housing development in Keynsham where new homes are being delivered.

Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “One of our top priorities as a Council and administration is to deliver more local homes to both buy and rent – and the record number of new homes completed in the past year demonstrates the progress we are making in delivering on this commitment. By building more new homes, particularly on brownfield sites, we can help more local people get onto the housing ladder and own a home of their own, whilst at the same ensuring we also have the right mix of social and rented accommodation to meet our area’s needs. To support this further, we have also earmarked more than £3.2 million in the Council’s budget to support the delivery of new affordable housing projects throughout the district in the coming years.”

Councillor Liz Richardson (Conservative, Chew Valley North), Cabinet Member for Homes & Planning, added: “Housing demand is extremely high within the district so I am delighted that the number of homes built in the past year is the highest since B&NES was created over twenty years ago. These figures show that we are working hard to ensure that sufficient land is made available to meet our housing needs, with nearly 70% of the homes completed in 2015/16 built on previously developed land.  We still have a long way to go, but we are determined to ensure that our housing provision enables people to live and prosper in Bath and North East Somerset.”

There are 441 new affordable homes that will become available to rent or buy between now and 2020 on 16 housing developments that are currently underway across the district, and this number will be added to as new housing developments come forward. For full details of this affordable housing delivery please visit: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/affordablehousing.

 

Roman healing centre at Keynsham?

Roman healing centre at Keynsham?

Could Bath have had a nearby Roman rival when it came to rest and recuperation. Keynsham may not have ‘magical’ thermal waters but it seems the Roman remains underneath Keynsham Cemetery could be “one of the most important buildings ever found in Britain”, according to archaeologist Bryn Walters.

The following is a report from the on-line newspaper ‘The Keynsham Voice’ –   www.keynshamvoice.co.uk -which l have been allowed to quote in full.

“Mr Walters, who is director of the Association of Roman Archaeology (ARA), is challenging the long-held belief that the Durley Hill building was a private villa and suggests it was instead a healing centre visited by hundreds of people.

Excavations at the cemetery by volunteers from Bath and Camerton Archaeological Association (Bacas) in July last year appear to support his theory and now, Mr Walters told members of Keynsham Town Council last month, he hopes to be able to get permission carry out more work at the site.

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The excavation. the ashlar block wall on the left and the presumed blocking with large stones on the right. © Antony Beeson

A Victorian wall, a number of conifers, building materials and timber at the base of the road embankment would need to be removed to get better access to the ruins that were partially explored in 2015’s dig, he said.

There were similarities between Keynsham’s remains and those of the Roman temples at Lydney and Nettleton in Wiltshire, he explained, with no sign of living quarters at Durley Hill and instead what could be a series of small baths or “slumber rooms”.

A set of very worn steps also suggested it was a place visited by hundreds of people, and not a private residence.

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The ashlar block wall built over upright foundation slabs on the left. Presumed rough blocking appears at the left. © Anthony Beeson

A healing sanctuary at the site could have been the stimulus for building Trajectus, the Roman town believed to lie underneath the Somerdale site, he said.

“There were three terraces down the hillside, it was designed to be seen at a long distance, glowing on the hillside when viewed from Trajectus. Look across at dawn and that building would be gleaming on the hill, which suggests it’s not private, but public.”

He added: “We need to gain more accurate and detailed archaeological information from within the cemetery to get new evidence and a better understanding of what this building was all about,” he said.
ARA has funding to carry out a geophysical survey of the field to the south of Durley Hill, opposite the cemetery, this year.

Permission for further work at the cemetery would need to be granted by Bath and North East Somerset Council and the diocese and Mr Walters hopes he can get the go-ahead to dig new trenches at the site next year.

He added that once work had been completed the remains could be covered and capped, creating a visible outline of the building in the grass, and new information panels could be installed. He said: “My aim is to give Keynsham some of its history back.”

Town councillors expressed support for further work and have asked Mr Walters to submit his proposals in writing.”

The images were taken last year by Roman expert Anthony Beeson who lives in Bristol.

Rail reconstruction gets underway through Bath in 2017.

Rail reconstruction gets underway through Bath in 2017.

A new word has entered our local vocabulary in the last couple of years. It’s ‘t-pod’ and it is a shortened and slightly trendy way of saying – ‘temporary period of disruption’ – used by Network Rail every time they announce a closure of the line to London.

We are in the throes of a multi-billion pound upgrade which is being carried out on Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s historic Great Western Railway and which will see  electrification, new rolling stock, more seats and shortened journeys.

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How an electric powered train might look passing through Bath’s historic Sydney Gardens.

Enough benefits – the Company hopes – to offset those painful periods when the trains aren’t running and you are bussed from station to station.

T-pods have so far been necessary for lowering the track through Box tunnel and doing something similar between Bath and Bristol. There will be another one next Easter when the platforms at Bath Spa Station are widened and the track moved to allow for overhead pylons to be installed without damage to listed canopies.

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Track lowering through Box Tunnel

Bath’s historic heritage and listed structures present Network Rail with additional problems but Bath Newseum has been talking to the man in charge of all this reconstruction – Andrew Haynes –  and has been told the Company is confident they can install a new power system that will be fit for purpose and which actually enhances Georgian gems like Sydney Gardens – through which the London to Bristol line passes.

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Track lowering through Keynsham Station.

We’re going to be seeing actual construction work from the start of 2017 – with the system ready for commissioning from the middle of 2019- but with new rolling stock ordered that is equipped with diesel engines as well as pantographs – for picking up power electric power – you can expect new trains from the back end of next year!

Here’s a report on progress from Network Rail’s Project Director for the West of England, Andrew Haynes.

Network Rail’s next regular ‘drop-in session’ – open to everyone – will be at Bath Guildhall from 4.30 pm to 7pm on Tuesday, May 10th. You can go along and look at diagrams of projected work and ask questions!

 

Festival of Nature set to make waves with River Avon theme for 2016

Festival of Nature set to make waves with River Avon theme for 2016

The Bristol to Bath Festival of Nature is taking to the water this summer, offering wildlife-lovers of all ages the chance to go on a wild adventure along the River Avon.  This is the first time in its 14-year history that the festival has included the city’s waterscapes as part of the programme and it will allow participants to take a journey along the river, uncovering the delights of the Avon and the wildlife it is home to.715f2bae-8741-468c-a6de-0110c8dfed6d

The festival is also extending its programme this year to include events in Keynsham on Sunday 19 June before culminating in Bath in Royal Victoria Park for its finale on Saturday 25 June.

Arts, performances and workshops will spring up on river banks en-route as the Festival meanders along  the Avon over the course of the two weeks.

The festival gives people the opportunity to discover and enjoy the natural world through an imaginative programme of hands-on activities, workshops, performances, celebrity talks, local market stalls and much more. It also encourages people to take positive action to support and protect wildlife in their area.
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A Waterblitz is also being planned to help raise awareness of water quality issues across the Bristol Avon Catchment. Organisations, community groups, schools and members of the public will have the opportunity to collect water samples from freshwater bodies (streams, ponds, lakes) to create a snap shot of water quality levels at a catchment scale.

Volunteers can now register to help out at the festival by filling in the form at this link: http://www.bnhc.org.uk/festival-of-nature/volunteer-fon/