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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act



This is the Act whose primary function is the introduction of elected police commissioners and it is this aspect of the Act which has been most widely publicised.

However part 2 of the Act deals with changes to the licencing regime these changes will have considerable significance for the management of Bath’s night time economy. The main changes brought in by the Act are summarised below:

The Licensing Act 2003 defines responsible authorities as including the police, fire authorities, local authorities exercising health and safety, local planning, environmental health and child protection functions, and any licensing authorities (other than the relevant licensing authority) in whose area the premises are situated. The relevant licensing authority, in our case BANES, is currently is not a "responsible authority".
Only responsible authorities can make representations in relation to applications for the grant or variation of a premises licence or club premises certificate, or request the review of licences.

This Act introduces amendments to bring BANES licencing department within the definition of "responsible authority".

The Act also makes the local Primary Care Trust a responsible authority.

Under the Licensing Act 2003 ‘interested parties’ (persons who can make an application for review or representations) must have a particular relationship to the vicinity of the premises (for example, by living in the vicinity or being involved in a business in the vicinity). This Act removes this test of ‘vicinity’ from the Licensing Act. This will enable any person to make representations in relation to applications for the grant or variation of a premises licence or club premises certificate. However, all representations will need to relate to the licensing objectives and must not be frivolous or vexatious.

The Licensing Act 2003 imposes a general duty on BANES to exercise their licensing functions with a view to promoting the licensing objectives; the objectives are the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm. The 2003 Act requires BANES to take steps which are "necessary" for the promotion of the objectives.

This Act amends this by requiring licensing authorities to take steps which are "appropriate" for the promotion of the objectives. This has the effect of reducing the threshold which licensing authorities must meet.

The Licensing Act 2003 currently includes a scheme which enables an individual to carry on a licensable activity, on a temporary basis. To hold a temporary event the event holder (‘premises user’) must send a temporary event notice to the licensing authority and the Chief Officer of Police at least 10 working days before the event. The Chief Officer, if satisfied that the temporary event would undermine the crime prevention objective, must send an objection notice to the licensing authority and premises user no later than 48 hours after receipt of the temporary event notice.

Police objections trigger a requirement on the licensing authority to hold a hearing and may result in a counter notice being sent to the premises user if the licensing authority agrees that the temporary event would undermine the crime prevention objective. If a counter notice is issued, the temporary event notice will no longer authorise any licensable activities.

This Act extends the right to object to a temporary event notice to the environmental health authority, and allows the police and the environmental health authority to object to a temporary event. It also allows licensing authorities to issue a counter notice under section on the basis of all four of the licensing objectives.
This Act introduces the new category of ‘relevant person’, and revises and adapts the processes governing objections from relevant persons; these relate to the holding of a hearing or modification of a temporary event notice following receipt of objections from one or more relevant persons.

This Act enables BANES to impose conditions on a temporary event notice if it considers that this promotes the licensing objectives. A licensing authority can only impose such conditions if an objection has been made by at least one relevant person, and at least a part of the premises in relation to which the temporary event notice is given is already subject to a premises licence or club premises certificate.

The Act allows the premises user to give a limited number of temporary event notices in a shorter timeframe to the existing temporary event notice process. This is defined as a "late temporary event notice". A temporary event notice which is given in accordance with the existing timeframe is defined as a "standard temporary event notice". An objection from at least one relevant person to a "late temporary event notice" will result in a counter notice being issued. This will make the late temporary event notice ineffective.
The Act extends the period in which a relevant person can object to a temporary event notice from two to three working days.

The Licensing Act 2003 makes it an offence for a premises licence holder, or person who has given a temporary event notice, to sell alcohol on two or more occasions in a three month period to a child. On conviction, a person is liable to a fine not exceeding £10,000. This amendment increases the maximum fine to £20,000.

This Act enables the police and trading standards officers to issue a closure notice to a person for whom there is evidence that they have committed an offence for which there is a reasonable prospect of conviction. The closure notice discharges the person from any further criminal liability but prevents them from selling alcohol for the period specified in the notice. This act increases that period from a maximum of 48 hours to a period of between 48 hours and 336 hours.

The Licensing Act 2003 contain powers to make regulations to prescribe the annual fees payable by the holders of premises licences and club premises certificates.  A fee which is not paid on the due date can be recovered as a debt due to a licensing authority. No other sanction for non-payment of an annual fee is available to a licensing authority. This Act requires a licensing authority to suspend a licence or certificate for non-payment of an annual fee if certain conditions are met.

This Act enables BANES to introduce a levy payable by the holders of a premises licence or club premises certificate if they are authorised to supply alcohol between midnight and 6am.





Monday, 12 December 2011

The Live Music Bill


This piece of legislation is being steered through Parliament by our local MP Don Foster.

We, however, are very concerned that this Bill will undermine conditions designed to reduce noise pollution from premises licensed to sell alcohol. One of the great things about this city is that large numbers of residents still live in the centre – around 10,000 in Abbey and Kingsmead, the two central wards. These people’s lives are already subject to disruption from licensed premises and their clientele, and we are strongly opposed to measures of deregulation which could make the present situation worse. Most working adults and the elderly retire not long after 22.00 hours, but small children are put to bed from 19.00 hours. It is unacceptable that more noise should be allowed during the period when people are trying to get to sleep.

The Bill relies heavily on a cut-off of 200 patrons, as if implying that a function with such a number is unlikely to cause a problem. We believe that this is completely misguided. Most premises in the hotspots in Bath have a lower capacity than this, but have great potential to disturb nearby residents if not properly controlled. It is also entirely unclear who the supporters of the Bill believe are going to enforce such a limit.

Most licensed premises in Bath have licence conditions relating to noise i.e. closed windows, noise limiters etc. The Bill would remove these conditions unless residents had gone to the enormous trouble and stress of seeking a licence review to re-impose them. It is not right that the onus for obtaining a reasonable outcome should rest on residents, rather than the businesses who will be making a profit out of the increased noise.
Some licensed premises, such as restaurants, which do not have regular entertainment, may have no conditions concerning noise. These can cause a problem when a band or DJ is brought in for an occasional function. It would be wrong to allow them to be deregulated. The is no evidence at all that the current regulator regime is stifling live music in the city one only has to look at what is on offer at venues such as Moles, the Pump Room, the Bell, the Guild Hall, the Forum, the Chapel Arts Centre and the Pavilion to name but a few.

It is unclear to us how the Bill distinguishes between noise relating to musical performance and crowd noise. The latter can be a problem from people on the premises, as well as from noisy groups making their way between premises, or staggering home late at night.

For other premises, the supporters of the bill appear to have in their vision fairly benign music promoters such as local community groups, schools, morris men etc. But the Bill opens up scope for commercial promoters to hire other premises and spread the noise pollution associated with their activities, (amplified hip hop comes to mind), to places where it does not happen currently. Worse than that, it could attract guerrilla promoters who will create events in unpredictable places with little or no consideration for their neighbours.
In general we believe that implementation issues have been completely ignored in this debate. Who is going to count the size of audiences for instance or monitor the end time? Many of these events may be one-offs but several one-offs can be very damaging in a small area, such as the clusters of licensed premises in Bath. There is a kind of cumulative impact here, of which the Bill takes no account.

A key issue underlying all this is the continual assumption that the existing noise complaint process via environmental protection is robust. It is, with respect, nonsense for the Explanatory Notes on the Bill to say that ‘licensing authorities will continue to have a range of powerful sanctions available’. In B&NES environmental protection is in a separate department from licensing.Here, as in most parts of the country, the service is notoriously under-resourced, even before the present round of budget cuts. The complaints process is bureaucratic and imposes considerable work on the complainant. And effective action can only really be taken against regular offenders, whereas it is in the nature of live music events, that many are irregular and cause unpredictable patterns of nuisance.

We understand that the promoters of the Bill themselves guestimate that implementation would lead to a 10% increase in complaints about excessive noise from entertainment events. No evidence for this figure has been produced, but we would say that any increase is a problem, which cannot be offset by increased profit to business, let alone by the claimed ‘wellbeing from attendance and participation in ‘wellbeing from attendance and participation in more live music performance’

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Localism Act


The Localism Act, which will come into force early next year, has the potential for introducing significant risk for our local environment.

The Act contains a number of provisions relevant to TARA, notably:

A Neighbourhood Plan will be, for a small local area, an extension of the Local Plan and will have to be considered when planning decisions are being made.  It will have to be broadly consistent with the Local Plan and with national policy.   It will be subject to various procedures including a local referendum.

Neighbourhood Development Orders could grant planning permission for specific developments, or for a class of development (for instance rooftop wind-generators), or could place conditions on development given permission by the General Development Order (for example to say that house extensions have to be faced with Bath stone). They will be subject to various procedures including a local referendum.

The Community Right to Build is a particular kind of neighbourhood development order, which would grant planning permission for specific developments. They will be subject to various procedures including a local referendum.

Owners of property on the List of Assets of Community Value will not be able to dispose of it without advertising the fact first so that a community organisation can make an offer for it.  

Outside urban areas, most of these things will be dealt with by parish councils.  In areas such as Bath there will have to be a process for identifying who can take action on them.

Neighbourhood Plans and Neighbourhood Development Orders will be the responsibility of “Neighbourhood Forums” acting in “Neighbourhood Areas”.  There can be only one Neighbourhood Forum in a Neighbourhood Area at a time, and it lasts for five years.  Any organisation can offer itself as a Neighbourhood Forum, subject to certain restrictions, and B&NES will have the main role in deciding which of them go ahead in an area.
 
The Community Right to Build is to be exercised by a “community organisation”, which is a “body
 corporate established for the express purpose of furthering the social, economic and environmental well being of individuals living, or wanting to live, in a particular area”, and which meets other conditions which the Government sets out in regulations.

Assets of Community Value may be nominated for a List by a voluntary or community body with a local connection (or otherwise as determined by a local authority), and it is the local authority which decides what goes on the list..  

FoBRA, TARA and other residents’ associations are concerned at the risk that commercial developers may capture and exploit these mechanisms. Most of them would be pretty expensive to use (a neighbourhood plan could easily cost £50,000 or more), and it is unlikely most genuine community organisations would easily be able to afford to use them. We have drawn these concerns to the attention of B&NES, who are currently developing protocols for handling their own role in these processes.

The Live Music Bill


Don Foster, is taking the Live Music Bill through the House of Commons.

This piece of legislation will remove controls on amplified and unamplified music at venues with a capacity up to 200 people. There are many pubs, bars and restaurants in the centre of Bath which feature live music, but few of them have a capacity of more than 200. So at a stroke this measure will remove noise controls from most venues in the city.

Residents in Bath are already too often subjected to unnecessary disturbance from the night time economy, including the noise of music and the noise of patrons making their way to and from their favourite night spot. It is very difficult to keep the lid on this nuisance, but residents’ associations have worked with the licensing authority to press for sensible controls. With a few exceptions, we have a reasonable compromise at the moment, and most significant licensed premises have noise conditions written into their licence.

10,500 residents live in the two central wards, Abbey and Kingsmead, including some 900 children and 1,800 elderly people, most of whom live only a stone’s throw from one or more licensed premises.

Noone is objecting to live music as such, as it brings great pleasure to many people.  But particularly where it is amplified, there is the risk of disturbance, and so it is absolutely right that there should be controls on noise. If the Live Music Bill is passed into law, the only way in which residents will be able to regain a degree of control is to go to the length of applying for a licence review or invoking the Noise Act. Both involve very onerous procedure, with an uncertain outcome.

Like the Licensing Act 2003, which has caused so much damage in city centres across the country, including Bath, the Live Music Bill is presented as an innocuous measure of ‘deregulation’. Its promoters even claim that there is a quantifiable increase in ‘wellbeing from attendance and participation in more live music performance’. The pub trade object to the ‘hassle of red tape’ and are all in favour of the Bill.

We urge other residents who don’t share the trade’s view about this to write as we have done to Don Foster at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA, or don@donfoster.co.uk, to ask that the Bill be amended so that sensible controls on noise are not swept away.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

HGV's in Bath City Centre


One of the matters of greatest concern to us is traffic congestion and air pollution in the city. The entire main road network in Bath has been designated an Air Quality Management Area due to nitrogen dioxide levels above the safe health limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre. High levels of nitrogen dioxide are linked to respiratory disease, heart disease and early death.

These levels of air pollution are almost entirely due to road traffic, and Heavy Goods Vehicles contribute a disproportionate amount of pollution relative to their numbers.  They can also cause serious congestion as they try to negotiate Bath’s narrow streets.

Failure to observe HGV limits is a moving traffic offence; the enforcement of the limits is a police responsibility. We are concerned that in practice there is almost no enforcement of HGV limits in the city.
In particular, there is a 7.5 tonne limit on the A4 through the centre of Bath. The A4 route includes Queen Square and George Street and significant numbers of HGV pass through this area without any checks being applied.  Traffic counts have shown 220 HGV movements a day at The Paragon junction with Broad Street.  It is a matter of everyday observation by our members that HGVs pass through the city which are unlikely to be making deliveries – for example double trailer lorries with shipping containers.

We recognise that some of this HGV traffic is making legitimate deliveries in the city.  But when the Police last, to our knowledge, conducted systematic checks on HGVs in October 2009, they found a significant proportion were just passing through and had no justification for being in the city centre.

B&NES Council is proposing an 18 tonne limit on vehicles turning left from Bathwick Street to Beckford Road and vice-versa.  If this can be successfully implemented and enforced, it should result in a significant reduction in the heaviest HGV traffic along Bathwick Street and London Road. However, it will be a pointless exercise if the limit is not enforced.

There are a significant number of ANPR cameras throughout the city.  Could these not be used to help in the detection of violations?  Clearly the fact that an HGV is recorded in the city does not of itself mean that an offence has been committed.  However, if a vehicle was recorded at, say, the London Road/Cleveland Bridge junction and then on the Upper Bristol Road within 15 minutes, that would constitute prima facie evidence that the HGV limit had been breached, since it would not have had time to make a delivery.  If, when served with a notice of breach of the HGV limit, the owners could produce a relevant delivery record that would of course exonerate them.  The technology must exist to automate such a system.  Most of us have seen how effectively the London Congestion Zone is enforced using ANPR, as are yellow box junctions in the capital, so we believe there is real scope to do more about HGV's in Bath.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Sexual Entertainment Venues BANES draft policy

TARA is broadly supportive of the principles articulated in the draft policy.

We would want to make a couple of additional comments:

We think that there is broad agreement that these sort of premises should not be sited close to residential properties. We think it important that the policy requires that this decision be made on a case by case basis rather than on the basis of zoning .
We think it is important to look at the wider impact of such establishments on the mix of entertainment provided in a particular area. For example the centre of Bath attracts lots of hen nights currently but few stag nights. Looking at the web sites of companies who sell hen and stag night packages the reason for this seems to be the lack of sexual entertainment venues in Bath. So the provision of such venues in close proximity to Bath’s vertical drinking venues would have the potential to create a very considerable negative impact on the environment of the city centre.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Friday, 19 August 2011

The Fubar application for a new license

Grove Street a substantially residential street and residents often have occasion to complain about noise and nuisance caused by the customers leaving the several drinking establishments and the night club that already operate close to the end of the street.

This application would represent a substantial change in the nature of these premises.

Currently these premises are operated as a restaurant where the emphasis is primarily on the quiet enjoyment of food and where alcohol is only consumed as an accompaniment to the food. This license if granted would potentially create premises where the focus was on drinking and music based entertainment. Karaoke rarely creates a quite atmosphere and we note the applicants even at this stage are anticipating these premises becoming a party venue. All this will be further aggravated by operating longer hours and having people drinking in the open air.

These premises are located in an area which is supposed to be subject to the Cumulative Impact Policy; if this application is granted residents will be moved question what the purpose of this policy is.

Should, despite this, the licensing authority be minded to grant this application we would submit that the conditions proposed by the applicant are inadequate to control the nuisance which experience tells us will result.

We would suggest they consider, in addition, the following:

Closing times of two am in this area at any time would be wholly inappropriate

Outside areas and drinking alcohol particularly outside the context of a substantial meal have proven to be an almost inevitable source of nuisance and no premises in the centre of city that we are aware of are allowed to have drinking outside beyond 11pm at the latest.

Noise leakage from doors and windows are a frequent cause of nuisance were premises are playing loud music and most premises are required to keep all doors and windows closed after 11pm.

Any music amplification equipment should be fitted with noise limiters set to a level selected by the licensing authority.

We note the applicants anticipate significant queuing outside these premises. People queuing to go into drinking establishments and congregating outside when they leave are known sources of litter and many premises therefore have conditions set requiring them to regularly clear up litter, vomit etc. from outside their premises.

No one should be allowed come out of the premises onto the street with alcoholic drinks.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Comments on proposals to expand the Pig and Fiddle

The planning authority has made decisions about this area already which need to be considered in relation to this application.

One is planning approval for a large pub opposite this site on the former King Edwards School site the other is approval for residential accommodation adjacent to both.

This latter decision has already created heighten conflict between residents and the operations of the large number of drinking establishments and associated business in this area
.
The former decision has potentially created a huge addition to the volume of drinking establishments close to George Street an area already the focus of much drink fuelled anti-social behaviour.

The local authority and both political parties have made great play of their intention to create a better balance between residential amenity and the provision, many would say over provision, of vertical drinking venues in the City centre.

As a concrete expression of this BANES adopted the Cumulative Impact Policy.

Residents will find it hard to understand how the huge expansion of an existing drinking establishment in this context fits in with any of these policies and commitments.

If BANES, despite these considerations, is minded to approve this application then we think it is essential that they impose planning conditions that ensure that the applicant is held to their assertions and the implications of their illustrations of this additional space being used as a quite area where people will be sitting and enjoying alcohol in a context where food is a key part of the offer.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Problems of the Night Time Economy - Street Drinkers

Street drinkers and other addicts create problems for residence when:
  • They gather in abusive groups even if the abusive behavior is not directed at passers by
  • They menace passers-by
  • They engage in begging
  • Rifling through rubbish bags

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Notes on a meeting between resident's and Bath Rugby Club Officials 11th July

It was positive to hear the Rugby Club were now only targeting a capacity of 18,000. In presentational terms it was less reassuring that in the course of the meeting they moved from 16,000 at the start of the meeting.

It was positive to hear that the east stand will remain temporary but make better use of the space. However we are still not clear on actual size and position.

It was positive to hear the plans for the riverside stand with an attractive face to the river and views through to the rec. The plans for cafes and shops seem modest and positive but we will have to watch out for “mission creep” during the planning and licencing phase. Similarly with the hospitality spaces.

The club's reassurances about there being no plans for night time drinking and nightclubs were welcome but as one resident pointed out in the event of economic downturn or a change of ownership who knows what might be proposed

We were pleased to hear that the Empire is recognised as a key sightline but it remains important to ensure that residents on the north side of the river are properly included in any further consultations or advisory panels.

The question of traffic management remains a black hole.

We thought the idea of effectively redrafting the covenants to make them clearer and more in accordance with the modern agreement we want to strike creating a legal framework outside the vagaries of the planning and licensing regimes was a positive idea that seemed to gain wide agreement.

For more information about TARA visit our web site

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

High Street Works - Public Realm and Movement Programme

We are broadly supportive of the Public Realm and Movement programme’s proposals for the High Street and Orange Grove particularly the proposal to remove coaches from Orange Grove.

The creation of a dedicated 'continental' coach bay opposite the Abbey which will, as we understand it, accommodate only one coach will avoid the current situation where two or even three coaches block the exit from the Empire and Guildhall car parks. We will be seeking reassurances about management of noise from the audible indication on the pedestrian crossing.

The extended taxi rank will hopefully relieve the unofficial 'overflow' taxi park which stretches from opposite the Parade Gardens right around into Grand Parade and causes obstruction and inconvenience for residents and visitors. Particularly In the evening a longer more integrated taxi rank will be easier for the Taxi Marshals to control allowing the rank to be better managed and more efficient.

The increased Pavement Area outside All bar One is welcome as this is a congested area which often looks dirty, with delivery vehicles, bus passengers, shop keepers and pedestrians all competing for space.

We are however less comfortable with the plans for coach parking in North Parade which already has its challenges with bendy buses and the volume of traffic. There are also particular issues with bus and coach noise and the residential blocks towards the bridge end of the parade which these proposals could exacerbate if coach parking is not better managed than it is in its current location

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Localism Bill

A timetable recently published by the Government indicates that by November 2011 the Government’s Localism Bill will be passed.

Key points of the Bill

The bill is split across four main heading and some special provisions for London

community empowerment
decentralisation and strengthening local democracy
reform of the planning system
social housing reform.

COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

Right to veto excessive council tax rises
Any council tax rises above a ceiling set by the secretary of state and approved by the House of Commons will trigger a referendum of all registered electors in their area.

Community Right to Challenge
A right for voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, parish councils and local authority employees delivering a service, to challenge a local authority, by expressing an interest in running any service for which they are responsible. A local authority must consider and respond to this challenge.

Community Right to Buy
This will require local authorities to maintain a list of public or private assets of community value put forward for consideration by communities. When listed assets come up for disposal communities have the chance to buy the asset when it comes on the open market.

Local referendums
This measure gives people, councillors and councils the power to instigate a local referendum on any local issue. Although these referendums will be non-binding.

DECENTRALISING AND STRENGTHENING LOCAL DEMOCRACY

General Power of Competence
The general power of competence will provide local authorities powers to do anything apart from that which is specifically prohibited.

Local authority governance
These measures will allow principal authorities to return to the committee system of governance, should they wish.

Directly elected mayors
Giving areas the right to have a mayor if they wish to following a referendum.

Predetermination
This will make councillors free to campaign, to express views on issues and to vote, without fear of being accused of having a closed mind on a particular issue. The bill is intended to make it clear that the normal activities of a councillor – campaigning, talking with constituents, expressing views on local matters and seeking to gain support for those views – should not lead to a legal challenge to a council decision.

Standards Board
The bill would bring about the abolition of the Standards Board regime. A new duty on local authorities to promote and maintain high standards of conduct will be introduced.

Pay accountability
Provisions are included that will require authorities to approve and publish annually a senior pay policy statement which they will be required to follow when setting senior pay.

Scrapping bin taxes
So-called 'bin tax' schemes would have allowed local councils to charge residents for household rubbish collections or fine families for having a full bin. The bill will repeal sections 71 to 75 of, and Schedule 5 to, the Climate Change Act 2008 thus stopping these schemes taking place.

REFORM AND THE PLANNING SYSTEM

Abolition of Regional Strategies
The bill will remove primary legislation which sets the basis for Regional Strategies.

Community Infrastructure levy
The Community Infrastructure Levy allows local authorities to set charges which developers must pay when bringing forward new development in order to contribute to new infrastructure.

Local Plan reform
The Bill will remove the ability of the Planning Inspectorate to re-write local plans and remove procedures on timetabling and monitoring. Planning inspectors will continue to assess local plans at a public examination, and authorities will only be able to adopt plans judged ‘sound’ by the inspector, but inspectors will only be able to suggest changes at the request of the local authority.

Neighbourhood planning
Neighbourhood plans will enable communities to permit development without the need for planning applications.

Community Right to Build
This measure will give local communities the power to take forward development in their area without the need to apply for planning permission, subject to meeting certain safeguards and securing 50% support of the community through a referendum. It will be for communities to identify suitable land, sources of finance and secure support for their proposals.

Duty to co-operate
The bill introduces a duty to co-operate on local authorities and public bodies.

Pre-application consultation
The bill introduces a new requirement for prospective developers to consult local communities before submitting planning applications for very large developments.

Enforcement
Proposals in the bill will tackle abuses like making deliberately misleading planning applications and running retrospective planning applications and enforcement appeals simultaneously.

Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
This measure will replace the Infrastructure Planning Commission with a system that provides a fast-track process for major infrastructure projects.

SOCIAL HOUSING REFORM

Social Housing Allocations reform
This measure will take transferring tenants who are not in housing need out of the allocation rules.

Reform of homelessness legislation
The bill will give local authorities the right to bring their homelessness duty to an end with an offer of suitable accommodation in the private rented sector without requiring the household’s agreement.

Social housing tenure reform
The provisions in the bill will enable local authority landlords to grant tenancies for a fixed length (the minimum length being two years).

Reform of council housing finance
Under the new system, councils will keep their rental income and use it locally to maintain their homes.

National Homeswap Scheme
This measure would require landlords to participate in web-based mutual exchange services that enable tenants to see a wide range of properties across providers in England.

Reform of social housing regulation
This measure will: make reforms to the regulatory system for social housing; abolish the Tenant Services Authority and transfer its remaining functions to the Homes and Communities Agency; and make changes to the Ombudsman regime applicable to social housing complaints.

Facilitating moves out of the social rented sector
The bill will ensure that housing association tenants who are also members of their landlord organisation are allowed to take up incentive schemes which help moves out of the social rented sector into owner occupation. Current legislation does not allow this because it precludes the making of any gifts to tenant members or former members.
Home Information Packs
This measure will repeal Part 5 of the Housing Act 2004 thereby abolishing Home Information Packs.

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Consultation on the Rec

We feel that there is not enough information provided to make any meaningful comment on the balance between benefits and detriments in the Trustees’ proposals. We don’t think a meaningful judgement can be made in the absence of a substantive proposal for any new development. This would need to include:

  • Details of facilities, including non-sporting facilities such as shops, bars and restaurants
  • Some idea of the size and outline of building on the site
  • Indications of proposed usage beyond rugby and expected attendance numbers required to achieve financial viability
  • Indication of how the impact of the above would be managed in terms of such issues as parking provision, traffic and noise management

In any case it is not clear that the proposed land use plan referred to in the consultation documents can be relied on. The owner of Bath Rugby seems to have indicated in recent press interviews that he wants the club to have a substantially bigger stadium than the trustees seem to envision in their statements.

The consultation appears intended to close off discussion of other locations for a new stadium and does not seem to distinguish local residents from visitors to Bath who may well have an opinion about the Ruby Club but have no interest in Bath or the Rec beyond that. It also seems a strange decision to run such a consultation ahead of the results of local elections and the consequent change of trustees.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Parking permits and the Bath Sky Ride

We asked BANES for their official advise to residents displaced by parking restrictions put in place for the Bath Sky Ride. They have sent use the following statement:-

As last year, residents who hold a B&NES Parking Permit for the roads effected by parking suspensions, will be reminded that from:

6 pm on Saturday 4 June until 8 am on Monday 6 June 2011, they are able to park on any Parking Zones, with the exception of Zones 15 and 16, which applies to those roads East of Lansdown Road to the London Road (Except Doctors bays, Car Club bays, Disabled bays and Loading bays) within the City and on single yellow lines, not effected by the parking suspensions.

In addition, the terms and conditions outlined in the application for a Parking Permit states:

"With the exception of reserved car park bays the parking permit does not guarantee a parking space.
Parking is only permitted in a Permit Holders Bay or a Dual Use Bay in the zone or car park for which the permit has been issued.
Pay & Display, Limited Waiting, Yellow Line Markings and other highway restrictions must be obeyed as signed.
The permit must be prominently displayed at all times in the windscreen of the vehicle in the Permit Holder provided in such a manner that a Civil Enforcement Officer can easily read or scan the details.
Where applicable paper permits must be completed in ink, alterations to the details on a paper permit will automatically render it invalid.
The permit is only valid for the vehicle registration(s) given. The Council must be immediately notified of any change to the vehicle registration prior to the permit being used. Alternative parking should be sought pending confirmation of the change.
If the permit becomes defaced, illegible, lost or destroyed it is the responsibility of the holder to obtain a replacement. An administration fee will be payable. Until a replacement permit has been obtained you must find alternative parking.
Vehicles must be parked wholly within the bay markings.
Responsibility for renewal of the permit lies with the permit holder. Displaying an expired/invalid permit may result in a penalty charge notice being issued.
The Council or Police may temporarily suspend the whole or part of a parking place which will be marked accordingly. Vehicles should not be parked in a suspended parking place without signed authorisation from a Council Official or Police Officer.
The maximum laden weight of a vehicle permitted to park in a parking bay is 2.0 tonnes. Permits will only be issued for:
a passenger vehicle; a car derived van; a goods vehicle with a taxation class of PLG
Where a dispute arises as to the eligibility of any applicant for a permit, the Council’s decision in relation to the issue of that permit shall be final.
Failure to comply with any of the above conditions may result in a Penalty Charge Notice being issued which will be enforced. No further warnings will be given.
The Council reserves the right to make changes to these Terms and Conditions"

Friday, 29 April 2011

Proposals for the Bath Sky ride

Our experience with this event last year leaves us with some areas of concern.

Last year the signage for the event from the point of view of motorists was poor and the diversions were ill thought out.The stewards manning road closures seemed poorly trained and ill-informed about alternative routes and event timings.

We hope that this year these issues will have been ironed out and the event will cause less disruption.

Also we have asked the council officials invovled in approving the extensive suspension of parking spaces associated with this event what their official guidance to residents is as to where they should park their cars when they move them from the areas that are being closed if they have city centre parking permits.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Street Drinkers

Drinkers and other addicts who choose or are forced to live on our streets are a recurring problem in Bath. They are particularly a source of nuisance when they:

Gather in abusive groups

Beg

Menace passers-by

Rifle through rubbish strewing on the streets where it becomes part of the litter problem and attracts vermin

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Bodrum Takeaway licence review


We were very pleased to see the excellent work that Environmental Protection done in gathering detailed evidence about the nuisance associated with these premises. Broad Street has a long history of noise and disorder associated with crowds moving down form the clubs and bars in George Street. The Bodrum Takeaway adds to this by:

-attracting drinkers to walk through the increasingly residential Broad Street in preference to other less residential routes
- encouraging crowds to gather and loiter near residential units
- encouraging crowds to loiter on relatively narrow pavements on a street which is a well-used route for cars leaving the city

We do not as an association have the resources to undertake the sort of evidence gathering that Environmental protection have done but we are in receipt of regular expressions of concern by residents. As part of a regular programme of city centre reviews we did visit the area just after 12:30 am on the 14th March and 1:00 am on the 20th March.

On the 14th there were approximately 6 people sitting and standing on and around the barrier outside these premises eating food and making considerable noise until two PC arrived to talk to them

On the 20th we saw a man putting a ground sheet in the doorway of the premises next to Bodrum were he sat and fed his takeaway purchase to his dog. While we continued to watch a party of 20 to 25 revellers came down the street, both in the road and on the pavement, from George Street shouting loudly. The entire party then packed, or at least tried to, into the Bodrum Takeaway.

We entirely support Environmental Protection's call for the hours of these premises to be restricted. Indeed we would ask the licencing committee to consider whether in the light of their evidence their recommendations on closing times go far enough

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

What would you do to reduce congestion and air pollution in Bath?

FOBRA recently posed this question to the three main political parties

The Labour Group said:

“The Group supports any move to reduce transport pollution and also carbon emissions . In the case of private car transport the problem can only be relieved by a more effective provision of public transport. Up to now this has been proposed to be met by the Bath Package funding offered by the previous government .However the reduction in the funding and alterations to the package proposed by the present Government make this, in our view, a much less attractive solution. We would wish to see instead of a total reliance on Park and Ride solutions better and cheaper bus services and investigation of the options for greater use of rail e.g at Keynsham and Oldfield Park. The Transport Commission chaired by Peter Hendy will presumably be working on some innovative solutions but unfortunately our Group have not been offered a place on the Commission”

The Lib Dems said:

“Sustainable transport is the key to reducing congestion and air pollution in the city. We need real alternatives to private car travel, not a tarmac bus road through back gardens in Newbridge that won‟t make any difference. We need to improve public transport, through real time information and on street ticketing for example, and we need to do more locally to encourage walking and cycling. In addition, we need to work to get HGVs out of Bath city centre.”

The Conservatives said:

“This is perhaps the most pressing issue facing Bath. Parts of the city have some of the worst pollution levels in the country, and congestion is set to become increasingly worse over the coming years if nothing is done to address it. Furthermore, Bath‟s congestion is cited time and again by businesses as the number one reason why more companies do not establish themselves and grow here, holding back our local economy and stifling jobs creation.
I believe that we are the only Party with a credible plan to tackle congestion in the city. We have remained committed to the Bath Transport Package and Greater Bristol Bus Network project, we have established a new independent Transport Commission for Bath to oversee transport improvements, and we are taking action to cut the city‟s HGVs by creating a consolidation depot for those making deliveries into Bath and proposing an 18 tonne weight limit for Cleveland Bridge.

The Bath Transport Package is the only viable option if we are to be serious about improving Bath‟s transport infrastructure. It has received the backing of many local businesses, the Bath Chamber of Commerce, both the city‟s Universities and organisations such as Travelwatch South West. Expanding our already successful and overcrowded Park and Rides will significantly cut the number of cars entering the city. The East of Bath Park and Ride will finally address the appalling congestion on the London Road, taking thousands of cars off it every day. And the Rapid Transit route will provide a fast and reliable public transport spine into the city to open up the second phase of Western Riverside and encourage more commuters out of their cars.

We will therefore remain committed to the Bath Transport Package and to securing Government funding for the scheme. We will also invest in local bus services, delivering Real-Time information displays at bus stops along key routes and continuing to subsidise threatened bus routes, as well as liaise closely with the new Transport Commission on any other innovative proposals they may have for improving Bath‟s transport.”

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Comments on applications under the Gambling Act 2005

TARA has no wish to re-visit arguments for and against the city’s decision to host one of the mini casinos permitted under the 2005 Act. Stage 1 applications for Provisional Statements currently under consideration are concerned largely with the applicants’ background and credentials and their willingness to meet standards and objectives set by the legislation and the Council. We do not feel competent to assess the four competing bids against these criteria and have elected to confine our comments to matters of most concern to our members, namely the possible impact of the mix of uses proposed on the immediate area in the case of the four selected sites and the quality of the schematic building concepts put forward.

The mix of uses suggested by the applicants includes, in addition to the casino, ‘leisure and entertainment,’ hotels and ‘commercial development,’ shops restaurants and bars, retail, a conference/auditorium facility and apartments.

Residents will expect that premises which sell alcohol to the public will be subject to the usual requirements of the Council’s Licensing Policy under the Licensing Act 2003 including the Cumulative Impact Policy.

Some uses such as ‘leisure and entertainment’ and ‘commercial development’ are not defined in sufficient detail to allow comment.

Residents will have no objection to the provision of further shops, hotels and apartments in the city centre if there is a demand for them and there will be support for the much needed auditorium, though whether Bath citizens will wish to see this combined in a single building with a casino as one applicant proposes must be open to question.

The casino should not be sited close to residential neighbourhoods particularly where homes are, or are likely to be, occupied by families with children. This will be particularly important where, as appears to be the intention in some cases, 24 hour a day operations are proposed. Residents must not be disturbed late into the night by smokers, arriving and departing customers and the slamming of car and taxi doors. Sites close to schools, churches and other places of worship should also be avoided. This would seem to preclude the Manvers Street site which, as well as being a part residential area, is close to St John’s Catholic Church and the Bath Islamic Centre at 8 Pierrepont Street. The Cattle Market car park is also close to residential areas including The Tramshed where there are families with small children. On this basis Saw Close, already home to the Theatre Royal and Komedia and where there are relatively few occupied homes, would seem to be the most appropriate location.

So far as the schematic building concepts are concerned, with the exception of the proposal for Saw Close which largely makes use of existing buildings much in need of renovation, none of the schemes submitted would, in our view and on the basis of the limited information available at this early stage, come anywhere close to offering the potential that ought to be required of such a key leisure facility in a city of Bath’s international standing. There is no mention, in any of the submissions, of the city’s aspirations for development in the city centre as a whole, or of the constraints and opportunities provided at each of the three selected sites. All three sites are of major importance to the city’s future development and character and none of the practical or visual issues relating to their development has been addressed.

We recognise, of course, that this is an early stage in the evaluation process and that detailed licensing, let alone planning, submissions have yet to be made. We do not feel, however, that even the limited information available at this stage should pass without comment and trust that the concerns of city centre residents, both as to content and quality, will be fully taken into account as the project proceeds.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Problems of the Night Time Economy - Rowdy crowds

Rowdy crowds cause broadly two types of problems at night in the city centre:

1. They create noise which is a problem if they are near residential premises or other noise sensitive locations such as the hospital
2. They can, often without intending to. intimidate other users of the city centre.

Crowd tend to form:
-Outside pubs and clubs because they cannot smoke inside
-Outside pubs and clubs because they are just loitering prior to going home
-Outside pubs and clubs because they have been ejected or refused entry
-Outside fast food outlets
-In queues for buses and taxis

Sometime crowds are just wandering the streets with no real aim.

Crowds are particularly a concern because they are often the breeding ground for fighting and threats of violence

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Lord Clement-Jones “Live Music” Private Members Bill

Should this Bill become law public performance of live amplified music, between 08:00-24:00, would no longer require a licence in premises such as pubs or clubs provided that, at the time that the music is being performed, alcohol is being supplied for consumption on the premises and the performance takes place before an audience of no more than 200 people.The exception to this would only be where a specific condition about music is included following a review of the licence or club premises certificate.

The Bill provides that live music in any place that qualifies as a workplace (including schools,hospitals, restaurants and cafes) not otherwise licensed under the Licensing Act does not require a licence, provided it takes place between 08:00-24:00 before an audience of no more than 200 people.

Unregulated live amplified music in a place like Bath has a potential to cause enormous problems. One-off events are one thing, but regular and continuous amplified live music can wreck a neighbourhood.

Presumably the Bill proposer Lord Clement-Jones lives on a country estate or in a flat in Westminster far away from any likely venue!

Check the Bill at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldbills/012/11012.1-i.html.

On March 4 2011 we may find out whether the government supports this Bill, but it might be helpful if letters are sent to John Penrose, Minister for Licensing, at the DCMS -

address:

2-4 Cockspur Street
London
SW1Y 5DH -

pointing out your concerns before 4 March

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Night Time Economy - Key concerns

Key issues which concern city centre residents in relation to the operation of the night time economy can be summarised as follows:

-Rowdy Crowds
-Street Drinkers
-Litter
-Poorly managed licensed premises
-Individual anti-social behaviour

Residents are of course concerned with the more "serious" issues of crime such as violent and sexual assaults. However, these are rare in Bath and so the focus inevitably falls on these lesser forms of crime, disorder and nuisance.

Bath city centre residents recognise that the many benefits of living in the centre of a beautiful and vibrant city are inevitably attended by the need to be tolerant of a wide range of other users of the city's amenities.

City centre residents are on the whole very tolerant of the inevitably lively atmosphere in Bath at night. However, the issues listed above if not kept under review and managed can make living in the centre intolerable and Bath would be a very different and poorer place if residents voted with their feet as has sadly happen in so many other cities.

It is for this reason that TARA devotes much of its time and resources to working with the police, council, responsible licensees and other agencies concerned with the management of Bath at night.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Proposals to restrict traffic in the Circus area

TARA is concerned about the Circus Residents’ Association’s proposals for traffic management in their area.

Firstly, we are concerned about the research that underpins these proposals which consists, as we understand it, of a traffic count and an assumption that the majority of traffic is using the Circus as a rat run from Gay street to Lansdown. By our own observations there are a number of reasons why vehicles are in this area e.g.looking for places to park, delivering to local business and residents, dropping off at the Assembly room etc. We need to understand why people are in the Circus before making decisions about managing them.

We also need a proper impact assessment for neighbouring roads before we put more vehicles on the already congested Lower Lansdown, George Street, Gay Street south and Queen Square. The CARA proposals for ameliorating this impact seem inadequate. The proposal to make the single yellow lines in George Street double yellow lines will create considerable problems for both residents and their commercial neighbours.

These kind of piecemeal proposals which tinker with the problem of traffic management in Bath by shifting the problem from one area to another within the city seem symptomatic of a systemic failure by BANES and the other public authorities involved to come up with an overall plan or even vision for managing the problems of traffic congestion and associated rising levels of pollution in the city.

Even the part of the CARA proposal which might win wider support, i.e. preventing coaches from cruising the city’s historic landmarks, lacks the necessary context of a city wide plan for managing tourist coaches except at one off events like the Xmas Market.

Complaints about 'rat running' often betray a misunderstanding about how a city road system functions. It is essentially a self adjusting network that, by giving drivers a choice of routes from A to B, should automatically reduce overall journey times, congestion and harmful emissions if it is working efficiently. In this context the idea that traffic should not enter an area unless it has destination business there is misplaced and attempts to limit traffic flow anywhere on the network should not be undertaken unless the consequences for overall performance and risk of increased problems on other network links have been assessed.

This is not to say that limiting 'through' traffic in, for example, what are plainly residential areas should never be attempted, they should and often are and the Circus may be a case in point, but this should not be done until the local benefits have been systematically evaluated against effects on other localities and on the overall performance of the network.

Bus Stops

There is now an increasing emphasis on improving public transport provision in Bath which we broadly support. We are also seeing the immergence, particularly as the election looms, of ad-hoc traffic management schemes which in the absence of an overall scheme for Bath or proper impact assessment we do not.

One of the often unrecognised effects of these two activities is the effect it has on the siting of and level of usage of bus stops. For instance the proposals for closure of Pulteney Bridge to various types of traffic have led to an increased use of bus stops on North Parade outside noise sensitive residential accommodation at times when it impacts the amenity of those residents.

Visit our web site

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The BANES Core Strategy

Broadly we are not unhappy with the draft strategy there are however some general point we would make.

The strategic issues do not explicitly acknowledge the issue of balancing the legitimate but competing needs of visitors, residents and people working in the city centre. This issue becomes particularly acute in relationship to the management of the night time economy.

The document does not acknowledge to existence of the BID.

The document mentions assisting the creation of a Rugby Stadium but the section on traffic and transport does not seem to take this into account.

It is not quite clear what the traffic scheme for Bath is should the BTP not get funding

Visit our web site

Sunday, 16 January 2011

King Edward School - Further Developments

Council planners have advised against the removal of Condition 21 from the planning consent for King Edward School which limits the numbers that can use the rear courtyard at any one time to 96. Under this advice Conditions 3 and 5 which set time limits on the use of bars, restaurants, parlours and the rear courtyard in the early morning would be amended in accordance with the applicant's request although use of the courtyard would not be permitted until 08.00.

This advice is consistent with objections raised by TARA. Any decision by Council members can, of course, be appealed by the applicant under the planning laws.