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Monday, 28 March 2016

Chairman’s End of Year Statement 2016

This year we have continued to work closely with those policing the city centre as they go through major restructuring. We hold regular meeting with officers, working with them on intractable problems of anti-social behaviour as well as attending liaison meetings such as Nightwatch, the Nighttime Economy Steering Group and the PACTs. One key area we are continuing to work on is improving the systems for reporting crime and anti-social behaviour.

Led by Michael Brett we have continued to support members in responding to planning applications that threaten their quality of life, examples being the Cowshed at Bladud’s Buildings, the various proposals for the areas around the weir, the Colonnades, Parade Gardens and Beehive Yard.

A key part of our work has, as ever, been helping members deal with the many issues associated with licenced premises and the complexities of licencing law.

We have continued to work with our partners to develop the City Centre Action Group and the CCAG now has a regular schedule of meetings with leading local politicians and key officers. This year working with Julie Girling MEP the CCAG organised a visit to Bath by the EU Environment Commissioner to experience at first hand the air quality issues in the city centre. Other joint projects have included:
Organising an open meeting for members to discuss their concerns about noise nuisance with the senior officers of BANES Public Protection Service
Working to address the problems associated with short-term letting of properties in residential areas and in particular properties being marketed as party venues
Challenging the property management strategies of Housing Associations which threaten to change the nature of the city centre community
Lobbying to improve traffic management in the city and in particular coach management and parking. One of the outcomes of this will be a considerable increase in the number of residents’ only on-street parking spaces. We have also been active in supporting the development of park and ride capacity.
Lobbying for better controls on litter and in particular smoking related litter and trade waste
Monitoring proposals for the Rec.
Assessing and challenging various proposals for changes to city and local authority governance
Representing the interests of the city centre in the very important West of England Joint Spatial Plan and Transport Study Consultations.

Looking at our on-going work in 2016 pollution remains a major concern and once the saga of the Eastern Park and Ride is finally resolved we need to continue to move forward to improve the air quality of the city centre. We believe the council need as a matter of priority to look at:
- The feasibility of creating a low emission zone to speed up the upgrading of commercial vehicle fleets using the city centre
- Reducing the number of vehicles circling the city looking for parking spaces by providing more off-street parking and improving the signage
- Creating a properly researched year round coach management strategy
- The creation of a by-pass

CCTV is an increasingly important part of the effective management of crime and antisocial behaviour and we are working with the council to create a process for reviewing the way the CCTV deployment strategy is managed, developed and financed.
We continue to monitor and comment on the emerging Regional Planning and Transport Strategies and in particular:
- The need for the region's broadband delivery infrastructure to be included in the transport strategy
- The need to include the protection of historic buildings in the spatial plan.
- The need to consider community stability in both plans to ensure that unique communities such as that of Bath City Centre are not damaged.
- The need to reflect the importance of tourism to the region.
- Pollution priorities should be revised in the light of research showing that diesel particulates are the most dangerous pollutants where human health is concerned.
- The debate about affordable housing needs to be much clearer about the relative importance of rental against owner occupation.
- The plan needs to reflect the increased forecasts for numbers of students and have a clearer view about how these increased numbers will be accommodated.
- The need to acknowledge the fact that the growth in knowledge-based digital industries which has become central to the economic success of the region is fundamentally dependent on the quality of life that the region creates for residents.

We are concerned about the management of the streetscape and in particular:
- The management of cycling and cyclist and skateboarders in the city centre
- The control of A Boards
- What is going to replace the Public Realm and Movement Strategy which was designed to bring public infrastructure in the city centre up to international norms and appears to have been abandoned.

Event management and public consultation prior to events need to be improved.

We have been lobbying our MP about the obvious weaknesses in licencing law particularly those highlighted by the sorry history of OPA.

The policing of the city centre in the light of police reforms is something we are continually monitoring.

Finally, I would like to thank the members of the committee for all the hard work they have put in on your behalf over the year and also to thank all of you for your continued support for TARA and its work.

Ian Perkins
April 2016

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Response to the Scrutiny Inquiry Day (Tue, 22nd Mar 2016)

We found the quality of the professional presentations of a high standard and gained much useful information.

However, the representatives of the community who were invited to speak seemed unbalanced. One speaker did not seem to represent any community and there were multiple speakers who represented Batheaston. There were no speakers representing London road residents or city centre residents nor did any speaker represent the interests of the business community. There were apparently no speakers from communities living near proposed P&R sites other than the water meadows.

The stated aim of the day was as we understood it, to look at integrated transport options for the east of Bath. However, most of the discussion was focussed on P&Rs and indeed one potential P&R site.

Our primary focus in addressing this topic is the reduction of pollution in the city centre and we think that that the reduction of NOx and small particulates needs to be set as a key objective of any strategy. We also think that there needs to be more monitoring of small particulate pollution in the city centre canyons such as Broad Street where there is residential housing.

We think that any strategy needs to be based on realistic assumptions and well-researched forecasting rather than wishful thinking about technological progress and radical changes in peoples’ behaviour.
For Bath to remain a vibrant and successful city we need people to come to the city centre and for the foreseeable future, a large number of those journeys will be made by diesel and petrol driven vehicles.

These vehicle journeys need to be managed. People need to be encouraged to park out of town if possible and this requires the provision of good P&R facilities near all the approach routes of the city. These need to be accessible to people when they need them so consideration should be given to extending the hours of operation.

Goods vehicles should wherever possible be incentivised to use out of city freight consolidation hubs.
Low emissions zoning can play a role in increasing the rate of uptake of both out of town parking and less polluting technology.

However, for the foreseeable future many, people will, for a variety of reasons, continue to drive into the city centre and they need to be directed as efficiently as possible to adequate off-street parking so that they do not circle the city’s streets adding to pollution by the sort of stop-start driving this inevitably involves. We need to put in place deterrents to coach operators who do not stop in Bath but drive around the cities iconic sites.

While we would like to see an increase in the amount of affordable public transport we also recognise that under the current ownership framework this would require public subsidy and, therefore, it might be worth considering the sort of levy that Nottingham use to generate revenue and incentivise businesses to encourage staff to use out of city parking and other forms of transport.

While cycling and cycle routes have a role to play in an integrated transport system it needs to be recognised that the city's geography and indeed demography place considerable limitations on how big this role can be. It also needs to be recognised that in the confined space of the city centre pedestrians and cyclists are inherently incompatible and formal and informal attempts at creating shared places have been widely seen as failures.

The provision of high-speed broadband needs to be seen as part of any integrated transport solution as a mechanism for shortening and eliminating physical journey.

Action needs to be taken to prevent or incentivise social housing providers from continuing with policies which involve moving city centre workers out of the city.

Above all, we would call for the council to show leadership. Stop constantly discussing strategies and implement the strategy you have already created at great expense because while you debate people’s health is being impacted and lives shortened.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2016

The Annual General Meeting of the Abbey Residents Association will be on
Wednesday, April 27 at 6.45 for 7.00 pm in the crypt of St Michael’s Church, Broad Street.

Following the meeting:

Louise Prynne, Chief Executive Bath Business Improvement District on their future plans in the city centre

After which:

Wine and canap├ęs will be served and we will be joined by a member of the BID board and members of the City Centre Action Group Executive.

Guests who are not members of the Association should attend at 7.45 for 8.00 pm.

AGENDA for the meeting

1. Apologies

2. Minutes of the 2015 meeting and Matters Arising

3. Chairman’s Report

4. Treasurer’s Report

5. Election of Officers and Committee

6. Any Other Business