Pages

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Could a tourist tax fix Bath's dire public realm?


The Public Realm and Movement Strategy was created at considerable expense to improve the quality of environmental design and management, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, on city centre streets.
This strategy was generally well received and made a promising start but seems to have run out of money and political support.
In consequence, our city centre still fails to meet standards which are commonplace among European peer cities and well short of what one would expect from one of the few cities in the world to have been awarded World Heritage Status.
Why has this been allowed to happen?
What is the Council proposing to do to stop further deterioration? Is the plan to simply hope that developers and the BID's piecemeal efforts will fill the gap. 

We are calling on BANES to develop a proper strategy and fund it by the sort of tourist tax which is becoming standard in most of the major destination cities of Europe.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

TARA’s official response to the CAZ consultation


For years now politicians of all stamps have done little or nothing to stop people in Bath being poisoned. Now that we finally have a well-researched plan it is really important that our local politicians don’t play politics with it but implement it and that it does not become hopelessly diluted by giving in to special pleading.

The plan has been consulted on for months now and certainly, all politicians and major pressure groups have had many months to make points and raise concerns and suggestions. It is a complex issue and there will always be room for disagreement about details such as boundaries, business impact and the need for exceptions and mitigations to protect the vulnerable but those have been extensively debated and the plan has undoubtedly evolved in response. However, too often in BANES perfect is made the enemy of good to serve political ends and we are concerned that this does not happen here,

Finally, we would ask everyone to remember that this project is, and should be, about reducing pollution sooner rather than later it is not about traffic management or congestion. This is particularly important when discussing the charging regime which is still too often referred to as a congestion charge rather than what it is a levy on polluting vehicles.

If people can make a good case for making the zone bigger and it will not delay the implementation of the CAZ it should be made bigger. A good candidate might be Pulteney Street.

The damage to peoples’ health in the city and incidentally to the historic buildings on which a substantial part of our economic prosperity depends, is substantial and has been allowed to go on for far too long. Fixing this problem should be BANES’s top priority. Charging people a substantial amount of money to bring high emission vehicles into Bath is the only viable way to remedy this with the urgency it deserves. It will incidentally have the minimum impact on commercial activity in the city of any of the proposed more complicated solutions. Our only concern is whether the proposed charge is high enough.

We would support and advocate a number of measures to mitigate the impact on individuals and companies in the short term:

·       Extended opening hours at the park and ride

·       Overnight secure parking at the park and ride

·       Financial support for residents and local businesses within the zone to upgrade from non-compliant cars

·       Financial support for local businesses within the zone  to upgrade from non-compliant commercial vehicles



Longer term we would support and advocate:

·       Public transport improvements on key routes into the city and within the zone

·       Smaller park and ride sites along existing bus routes

·       Support for local HGV owners to retrofit Euro 4 and 5 diesel vehicles

·       An eastern park and ride

·       An A36 A46 link

Friday, 2 November 2018

The CAZ


For years now politicians of all stamps have done little or nothing to stop people in Bath being poisoned. Now that we finally have a well-researched plan it is really important that our local politicians don’t play politics with it but implement it.
The plan has been consulted on for months now and certainly, all politicians and major pressure groups have had many months to make points and raise concerns and suggestions. It is a complex issue and there will always be room for disagreement about issues such as boundaries, business impact and the need for exceptions and mitigations to protect the vulnerable but those have been extensively debated and the plan has undoubtedly evolved in response. However, too often in BANES perfect is made the enemy of good to serve political ends and we are concerned that this does not happen here,
No of the main political parties can claim credit for the progress now being made all of them have effectively ignored this issue until the courts intervened. That why we now need action.

Finally, we would ask everyone to remember that this project is about reducing pollution sooner rather than later it is not about traffic management or congestion. This is particularly important when discussing the charging regime which is still too often referred to as a congestion charge rather than what it is a levy on polluting vehicles.

If your vehicle has low emissions you will not pay.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

BANES officers acting without proper process

We have seen two worrying example of BANES officers ignoring or circumventing licencing procedures and effectively denying residents the right to have their views heard and properly considered.

Highways officers have approved the obstruction of the pavement on George Street without using the licencing procedures which would have given residents and local businesses the right to have the concerns heard. More concerning still it took the use of the Freedom of Information Act to get them to tell us and elected members what they had done.

A recent application for a street trading licence was granted by officers before the end of the statutory consultation period. This caused considerable stress to the applicant and put the licensing committee in the invidious position of risking looking as if a decision to grant was influenced more by the need to mitigate the distress caused than the merits of the application or the objections before them.

These examples are concerning in their own right but lead us to worry whether how many examples have remained undiscovered and what this all says about officers attitudes to democratic accountability.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Application for a fast food stall on Grand Parade


The council’s street trading policy has a number of goals most of which this application appears to frustrate:




Complements premises-based trading

There are a number of outlets in this area which are providing the food being offered by this applicant on both an eat in and take out basis.

Is sensitive to the needs of residents

We understand several residents and residents organisation have already made the case that an outlet of this nature in this location is likely to have a negative impact on their lives particularly in the light of the early hours of trading and the likely increase in gull activity, smells and crowding.

Provides diversity and consumer choice

It is hard to argue that there is a shortage of outlets of all type and price points providing Bacon rolls/filled baps and hot and cold drinks or that consumers lack choice in this area

Seeks to enhance the character, ambience and safety of local environments

Grand Parade is cited in descriptions of Bath as exhibiting the grandeur of a “processional route”, and is a key part of the World Heritage site. We would argue that the proposed stands are inappropriate on its pavements, detracting from that special ambience, impeding key views of Pulteney Bridge and the river and riverside.

Promotes healthy eating

We assume BANES would not support the suggestion that bacon rolls were a healthy eating choice but it might be worth citing the following:

“The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified processed meat as a carcinogen, something that causes cancer. And it has classified red meat as a probable carcinogen, something that probably causes cancer. IARC is the cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

Processed meat includes hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, and some deli meats. It refers to meat that has been treated in some way to preserve or flavour it. Processes include salting, curing, fermenting, and smoking. Red meat includes beef, pork, lamb, and goat.

Twenty-two experts from 10 countries reviewed more than 800 studies to reach their conclusions. They found that eating 50 grams of processed meat every day increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. That’s the equivalent of about 4 strips of bacon or 1 hot dog.”



In addition to the above we would draw attention to some aspects of the BANES policy in relation to this application:




12.4 Street trading hours will normally mirror those of shops in the immediate vicinity

This does not appear to be the case here.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Trade waste on the streets


 We remain unconvinced that many if any business in Bath really needs to be allocated permanent on-street trade waste dumps and we are calling for BANES to be much more transparent about how it makes decisions in this area. We also question why there is so little consultation about the location of such dumps. 
While this debate continues we believe that those businesses that have been given the privilege of storing their waste on the street should be held to a code of conduct which includes the following requirements:

·       Keeping the bins washed down

·       Sweeping the area around the bins at least twice a day

·       Taking responsibility for reporting and fly-tipped waste cleared

·       Getting their waste collected often enough to avoid overfilling

·       Not letting waste creep into the area of residential and business premises near their dump

·       Maintaining the locking systems on the bins

·       Making their staff pick up rubbish they spill

·       Making the waste contractors pick up the waste they spill

·       Wrapping organic waste properly

·       Not continuing to add waste to bins that are already full



Saturday, 4 August 2018

The Indigo Hotel development on South Parade lessons for BANES

We are pleased that what we have been calling for in terms of a committee to coordinate the major developments in and around the Roman Baths and the Abbey and the efforts that have been made to communicate with and address the conserns of residents and businesses being impacted. We are also pleased with the attempts being made to minimise the impact of the development work on the aesthetics of the area.

However, we are facing over the next few years unprecedented numbers of development projects in the city centre and it is vital that BANEs gets better and managing them in a way which minimises disruption to communities and ensures that they are fully informed about what is going on.

The development of the Indigo Hotel on South Parade is a classic example of what can go wrong if there is no proactive management by the local authorities.

In granting planning permission much more attention needs to be paid to the likely impact on the local community and conditions and guidelines put in place to minimise them.

BANEs needs to be much more proactive in monitoring and enforcing conditions and BANEs officers should routinely be talking to neighbours about their experiences and encouraging developers to do the same not just waiting for them to register complaints.

The development at this site had overrun on an almost unbelievable scale which can only be down to poor planning, preparation and risk analysis.

Meanwhile the local community has suffered problems with:
  • Access to property
  • Safety
  • Loss of parking
  • Unnecessary obstruction of the highway
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Noise and dust
  • Early and late working on the site
  • Loss of trade
  • A complete inability to plan because of constantly slipping dates
  • Site traffic management
  • Lack of information
In addition to all this this site has always been an eyesore which the developer has done little or nothing to mitigate. 
This development highlights systemic problems in the way permission for significant development in the city centre is given and the way in which compliance is monitored and enforced.