We have been reading the interim report of the working group set up by BANES to consider community representation and civic governance within Bath. Their report can be seen at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/neighbourhoods-and-community-safety/working-partnership/bath-city-conference/community.
Our overall reaction is one of disappointment about how little determination or imagination the working group appears to have shown in addressing their brief. Their output is merely a restatement of the existing ideas promulgated at previous meetings. Have they explored and rejected other options or have they merely recycled their brief?
None of the proposals goes very far in addressing the democratic deficit in Bath. We note that none of the options as presented is fully costed only indicative figures being provided.
The creation of parish councils that will have little power and then only in local areas of Bath, will do little to address the systemic problems of the city and will, we understand, cost council tax payers a lot of money to create and maintain as well as adding extra levels of bureaucracy.
The committee idea has the virtue of probably being cheaper but would have little actual power. It seems unlikely that any serious residents’ groups would join it as it would give them very little power in the decision-making process but would ensure they shared more than their fair share of the blame.
This leaves us with the status quo which while unsatisfactory appears to be better than the other options on offer.
If the BANES is really serious about addressing this issue, and this is not just a PR initiative, we would urge that they take more time to analysis the costs and benefits of various proposals. We would also urge that they look at researching more options with more imagination and determination than they have shown to date.