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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Change of use application 10 York Street


This type of application is always difficult to assess as it provides inadequate relevant information in many areas of most concern to residents.

To take the first of the two purposes proposed if change of use is granted. Restaurant use raises concerns about smells and noise from kitchens. These premises are very close to peoples’ homes and sleeping areas. A further concern raise by food outlets is the arrangements for the disposal of waste and in particular food waste both in terms of where and how it is stored on the premises and where and for how long it is placed outside for collection.

Use as a bar raises much greater concern for residents. The creation of a new substantial bar is at odds with the councils frequently cited but rarely invoked policies and position statements on the cumulative impact of more licensed premises in the city centre. Bars of the size this applicant appears to be proposing in our experience will cause a number of problems the most common being noise, anti-social behavior and litter.

Again it is difficult to assess the likely impact of this particular bar proposal. All applicants in our experience assert that their bar will:

·        Operate reasonable hours
·        Be primarily food based
·        Be targeted at the sort of upmarket customers who don’t get drunk or behave badly
·        Be very high quality
·        Be very well supervised
·        Be operated in such a way that neighbours are not disturbed by noise or smells from the building

Most do not deliver against their promises and the planning authority does and perhaps can do little about that.

We also see a pattern of applicants following up initial planning applications with successive applications which erode and undermine their original reassurances.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Gull Workshop

In November we ran a workshop on the problem of urban gulls, in collaboration with CARA. We invited both gull experts and major property owners. The principle conclusions we took from the meeting where:

  1. That there was a need to gather much more information about the cost of urban gull both in terms of the cost of deterrents and the cost associated with the damage they caused.
  2. That there is a need for much more effective coordination of the use of deterrent measures because all current methods have the effect of redistributing populations and the implications of that need to be thought through.
  3. That there are currently only two effective methods for keeping gulls off buildings those are netting and egg oiling. Both are expensive to deploy and maintain and need to be kept up over a long period of time. Netting has the additional problem that if it is not done well it can lead to much unnecessary suffering as birds can become trapped.
  4. We need to work more effectively with others to lobby Government to take the problem more seriously
  5. We will be setting up a network of residents to identify problems where food waste is being left on the street and exploited by gulls; to get a quicker resolution of those problems
  6. We will be continuing to work closely with Bath's major property owners on this problem including BANES
  7. We need BANES to play a more active leadership role in:
  • Coordinating the collection of data about costs
  • Coordinating the deployment of anti-gull measures
  • Responding to reports of food waste being exploited by gulls
  • Lobbying government more effectively

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

LICENSING AND RESIDENTS ASSOCIATIONS



On November 1st TARA hosted a seminar at St Michael’s Church, Broad Street, exploring new opportunities for residents’ groups seeking to work within current legislation to improve the management of the night time economy, particularly in city centres.  The seminar was conducted by Leo Charalambides of FTB Chambers, a barrister who specialises in licensing law and is editor of the Journal of Licensing. The event used as a frame of reference the recently amended Guidance issued under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 which reflects the many changes to legislation made over the last year as well as case law.  In addition to representatives of city centre residents’ association we were pleased to welcome representatives of the Licencing Authority and the Avon and Somerset Police.

Leo emphasized the importance for all stakeholders of familiarity with the new guidance, just now coming into force.  Although the importance of licensed premises in the local economy is recognised, emphasis is given to encouraging greater community involvement in licensing decisions. The changes to the legislation give licensing authorities additional powers and responsibilities to effectively manage the night time economy and protecting the public from crime, anti-social behaviour and noise nuisance.

One of the messages that clearly emerged from this event is the importance of residents working together in a disciplined way.

We will now be looking to build on the success of this event to build closer working arrangements with other city centre residents’ associations to apply what we have learnt in making representations to ensure premises are operating within a framework that acknowledges the legitimate concerns and interests of their neighbours.
We would like to formally record our thanks to Leo for taking time out from his busy schedule to share is knowledge and experience with us.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Problems of the Night Time Economy - Litter


In the mornings Bath is too often covered in the detritus of the previous night:

- Bags left outside charity shops which have be scattered by drunks
- Fly tipped rubbish
- Litter casually disposed of by night time revellers
- Litter left by groups of smokers outside licenced premises
- Litter created by the remains of food bought at takeaway establishments
- Refuse left because of collection breakdown and abuse of collection services

Much of this is the is directly caused by the business activities of those who make money in Bath's nightime economy.

Few of these business do anything to clear up the mess their activities create or indeed to deter thei customers and staff from contributing to the mess.

We think it is about time they were held to account for this.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Experimental Scheme at Bog Island

We continue to receive complains from disabled residents and disabled visitors about both the negative impact that this scheme has had on them and the unsympathetic response of the authorities to their concerns and problems.

Enforcement

We now have had a clear policy and regulations regarding the use of A Boards for some months. These pictures taken in Union Street last week further highlight the pointlessness of creating regulation without having adequate means of enforcement.



Saturday, 7 July 2012

5 Argyle Street - licencing application


While we do not have any in principal objection to tables outside No 5 we are concerned that there may be insufficient clearance allowed between the tables and the corner. 

Despite BANES regulations, local businesses routinely put A boards on the pavement there and vehicles, in particular taxis, take the corner at speed.  


This create considerable risks to pedestrians if they are pushed to the edge of the pavement there.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Experimental Road Layout for Bog Island



Since the original scheme was put out to consultation last year very substantial changes have been made which seem to have favoured the interests of taxis, buses, coaches and shops over residents.

For those residents living in the pedestrianised streets, and there are many, between the Huntsman and Abbey Green, particularly those who are elderly or disabled, the loss of parking and loading in Terrace Walk represents a significant loss of amenity which is not addressed by the provision of parking in York street.

This scheme does not live in isolation and it is not clear how it is intended that these arrangements should work with the arrangements usually made for the Christmas market. In particular it is not clear how this scheme will work with the proposed closure of Dorchester Street to most vehicles with the consequent additional pressure on traffic crossing North Parade bridge an area where gridlock is already a common occurrence. With coaches and tour buses using Terrace Walk they will be stopping very close to the exit of the road over North Parade Bridge and this is bound to cause additional congestion in the immediate area as the coach drivers jockey for the limited space available.

This scheme has been characterised as a temporary experiment but it is not clear from the consultation thus far who will decide if the experiment is a success or what criteria they will use in making that judgement.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Proposed traffic regulation orders




The proposed traffic regulation order to close Pierrepont street, Dorchester Street and Manvers Street to all motor vehicles excluding buses, taxis, motorcycles and for access is yet another example of the failed piecemeal approach to the complex problems of traffic management in Bath. Solving one problem without a plan to address the new problems it will cause.

For a significant number of residents this closure will mean that they will only have one practical exit route out of the city centre over North Parade Bridge and its junctions with roads at each end which are always chaotic, often heavily congested and regularly completely gridlocked.

Traffic merges on to the bridge from two car parks and the local courts;  there are bus stops;  coaches park by the swimming baths waiting for school parties and often delivery vehicles block one lane while delivering to the clubs and restaurants.  The traffic lights at the junction with Pulteney Road let out very few vehicles at a time and often into traffic which is gridlocked. The few spaces created when the lights change are often filled by the cars emerging from the car parks and so no-one further back moves  – and the queue backs up into the city centre.

In addition, as part of the Public Realm and Movement Project, coaches are to be relocated from Orange Grove to drop-off points in Terrace Walk.  This means they will be stopping very close to the exit of the road over North Parade Bridge and this is bound to cause additional congestion in the immediate area as the coach drivers  jockey for the limited space available.  It is not clear whether coaches are to be included in the vehicles permitted to use Pierrepont Street/Manvers Street/Dorchester street.   If not,  this will mean a huge increase in coaches crossing North Parade Bridge.

It is high time that the responsible authorities stopped just tinkering with Bath's real and complex traffic management problems and developed a comprehensive management plan to address them.


Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Slug and Lettuce


The Slug and Lettuce have applied to extend the hours of use of their rear garden terrace.

This application is typical of a pattern of planning and licencing applications from premises in the area seeking to extend their operation beyond the scope of their present permissions. Each of these applications whatever its immediate effect on the premises concerned is having a detrimental cumulative effect on an area which is a recognised hot spot for drink fuelled noise and anti-social behaviour.

George Street is at the heart of a conservation area and is home to a considerable number of residents. Noise and nuisance generated in George street impacts a number of other residential areas.

Noise generated by outside drinking areas is inevitably more intrusive and difficult to manage and control. Noise generated behind buildings in George Street inevitably widens the footprint of the area of people affected.

The applicants may well have a policy of running these premises as a food based establishment with a broadly based clientele. They may even be successful at achieving their aim in the daytime and even in the early evening. However, at night this is just another vertical drinking venue attracting the predominantly youthful crowd drawn by the areas nightclubs.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Parking Survey


You should by now have received a copy of the Council's parking survey.  It is important to fill this in if you are dissatisfied with parking arrangements in your area.

 The Council has been drawing up a parking strategy.  Although the data in the paper highlights the pressures on on-street parking in the Central Zone, the current draft completely fails to address the issue.  We have managed to persuade Council officers to reconsider this in the light of the results of the parking survey which has just been launched.  However there is a strong view among Council officers and even some Councillors that the present situation is perfectly all right. 

 So if you want something done, complete the survey.   The closing date for returning paper forms is 12 June.  On-line forms must be completed by 22 June.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Enforcement


Poor enforcement and inadequately resourced enforcement are now emerging as key issues in many of the areas concerning residents. 

Without an effective enforcement regime in place all other regulations and regulatory actions become meaningless. For instance:

All licensed premises should be made to adhere strictly to their licence conditions. However licensing officers only inspect premises relatively infrequently and often not during the hours where breaches are most likely.

All licensed premises should comply with planning conditions but decisions of the planning authority are too often flouted for considerable time before effective enforcement action is taken.

Excessive noise from music, observable both on the street and in the nearest premises is routine in the City centre in the early hours of the morning. However, Environmental Protection Officers are not available at all at night when most noise nuisance happens. Environmental protection is not proactive in enforcement only acting on reported nuisance. Other enforcement agencies, such as the police, on the whole ignore noise as an issue

The Council’s Air Quality Management plan calls for improvements to the enforcement of the Traffic Regulation Orders designed to reduce pollution from heavy goods vehicles and with rising levels of pollution damaging both human health and the historic fabric of the city implementing these improvements is long overdue.

Too often regulations are made with little or no planning of how they will be enforced - A Boards and 20 mph zone spring to mind. This does nothing for the credibility of the regulators or the regulations and leaves residents feeling short change and abandoned.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Air Quality

This is the official BANES map showing the extent of air pollution in the city. Air pollution in the areas coloured red is above the safe health levels set by the world health organisation and adopted by the British Government.

Approximately 8,500 people live in these polluted areas and almost all members of TARA.

One of the major sources of pollution is traffic and especially slow moving traffic.

In central Bath much of the main road network is clogged with traffic. Queen Square is a busy gyratory on the A4. The Circus is used by up to 500 vehicles an hour. Some of the heaviest traffic is along the London Road.

These high volumes of traffic have a major impact on the overall appearance and amenity of the city making it a less attractive place to visit. Something which a town an whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism cannot afford. Pollution is also taking a toll on the fabric of the historic buildings visitors come to see.

Faced with all this one would expect our Councilors to have created and be implementing a master plan for traffic management and a clear forecast of its impact on reducing damaging and toxic pollutants. But this is not yet the case.

Other cities have clear strategic plans which are having a real impact. Bristol for instance have transformed their Queen Square from being part of a main thoroughfare to a local oasis for residents and visitors alike.

UNESCO the guardian of Bath's World Heritage Status, has called on BANES to create an integrated Traffic Control Plan for the city.

Friday, 30 March 2012

A Boards


From Monday 2 April anyone in Bath wishing to place an A-board on public land will need to make sure that they comply with the following rules:
  • Only one board per property frontage.
  • Placed against the frontage or property boundary.
  • A minimum of 1.5m width of footway left for pedestrian to use.
  • It must be no bigger than 660mm wide and 1250mm high.
  • It must be freestanding and not chained or tied to street furniture.
  • It must be stable and not weighed down by sandbags.
  • It must not have any sharp edges
  • Swinging and rotating boards are prohibited.
  • It must not carry and offensive or political message.
  • It must not obstruct visibility at junctions.
  • It must not be put out before 9 am


If you see boards in Bath that do not comply with these rules tell the council and/or tell us.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Parking in the Central Zone


Statistics are quite hard to come by where Bath parking is concerned. The data we do have shows 952 parking spaces and 1167 resident vehicle permits issued in the Central Zone (2006 figures from Parking Services). These numbers predate the loss of parking spaces to the car club and new cycle racks.

The current draft parking strategy paper has 936 spaces in the Central zone (2009 survey data) but has no data on residents permits.

The BANES  2011 parking strategy paper shows a gross disparity between the Central Zone and the Outer Zones, with about 40% occupancy in the Outer zones and up to 100% in the Central Zone.  The Council seems content with a situation where the Central Zone has to carry almost the entire burden of on street visitor parking, which seems to us inequitable when many of the Outer Zones are very close to the centre.

The planning approval given to new hotels with no parking of their own will make things a great deal more difficult for residents, especially in the area covered by TARA.

BANES do not even mention residents in the parking section of the Core Strategy despite representations from residents associations during the consultation phases.

http://www.tarabath.org

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Early morning alcohol restriction orders


The Crime and Security Act 2010 has received Royal Assent, but is not yet in force.

Once implemented, the Act will introduce a new power for licensing authorities, including BANES, to restrict sales of alcohol between 3am and 6am.

The Crime and Security Act 2010 amends the Licensing Act 2003 by inserting new sections 172A to 172E, which are summarised below:

s172 A gives the licensing authority the power to make an early morning alcohol restriction order.

The effect of the order is to suspend any authorisation of the sale of alcohol between 3am and 6am. This includes premises licences, club premises certificates and Temporary Event Notices (TENs).

An order may apply –
  • ·        every day or only on particular days
  • ·        in relation to the whole or part of a licensing authority’s area, or
  • ·        for a limited or unlimited period.

The order must specify the days in relation to which it is to apply, the area in relation to which it is to apply, and if it is to apply for a limited period, that period. The order must also specify the date from which it is to apply.

s172B sets out the procedural requirements, which include advertising the proposed order, holding a hearing to consider relevant representations.

s172C prohibits a licensing authority from making an order in relation to an area or day not specified in the proposed order advertised, and requires the authority to publish the order in a prescribed form and manner and within the prescribed period. 

Neighbourhood Plans


The Localism Act received Royal Assent in November 2011 and comes into effect on 1st April this year.  Amongst many other things, it creates a framework for neighbourhood planning.  

There is no requirement for all neighbourhoods to have a plan, and there are formal steps including a referendum and tests to ensure compliance with national planning guidelines and BANES plans required to create one.  But once formally adopted a Neighbourhood Plan will carry the same weight in decision making as plans prepared by the local authority.   In areas with Parish or Town Councils, these will be the only bodies able to prepare such plans.   Within Bath, which does not have that layer of administration, preparation of plans can be only be undertaken by a new entity created by the Act “Neighbourhood Forums”.  No decision has yet been reached on which areas might have Forums or how these would function.   

The Federation of Bath Residents’ Associations (FoBRA) has a sub-committee constructively engaging with BANES on such issues such as safeguards against hijacking by commercial or other vested interest groups and ensuring transparent, inclusive involvement.   TARA is represented on that sub-committee.   BANES cabinet is scheduled to consider a report on the Act from council officers on 14th March.  The FoBRA sub-committee is registering to address that meeting and will be responding to a subsequent consultation paper expected to be issued by the Council in April/May with a view to firm decisions in July.  

Friday, 9 March 2012

Abbey Street-level crime and ASB in January 2012


All reported crime and ASB 447

  • Burglary 14
  • Anti-social behaviour 175
  • Robbery 2
  • Vehicle crime 28
  • Violent crime 59
  • Public Disorder and Weapons 5
  • Shoplifting 65
  • Criminal damage and Arson 31
  • Other Theft 39
  • Drugs 15
  • Other crime 14