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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

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