Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Love Milsom Street

As this and other similar events look set to become more regular. We are asking BANES to ensure that they will be doing some follow up studies on the impact of these both positive and negative and that these assessments will be shared with residents.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Rough sleepers, beggars and street drinkers

City centre issues involving rough sleepers, beggars and street drinkers continue to be a significant problem.
In addressing this issue, it is important to be clear that not all or even most of the people involved are homeless. Some are homeless, some are not technically homeless but remain part of the street community some are merely criminals expoiting the generousity of passers by. It is also important to recognise the fear that the behaviour of some of this community generate in vulnerable residents and visitors.

There is an ongoing programme of outreach work seeking to meet the accommodation problems of this community and the problems of untreated mental illness, addiction and substance abuse which often underpin them.

However, we are concerned that:

  • Not enough is being done to identify the criminal explotation public symapthy and modern slavery which we suspect underpins much aggressive begging.
  • Systematic cuts to policing budgets and priorities set have impacted the policing of anti-social protection and public protection.
  • The problems are complex and require a multi-agency response but it is not clear where responsibility for this coordination lies
  • Mental health services continue to be massively underfunded across the board

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Alcohol licence application Bath Fish And Chip Company Limited

We object to this licence being granted as we believe in its present for it will add to public nuisance and disorder.

These premises are in a very sensitive location at the epicentre of the cumulative impact zone of night-time economy; close to other licensed premises and a taxi rank and on the route from the clubs and pubs in the north of the city to trains, taxis and buses.
We have little objection to a restaurant in this location serving alcohol to customers sitting down and eating substantial meals.

However, given its location and the well established connection between pre-loading and public nuisance as well as the potential for already intoxicated persons getting access to further alcohol bought by members of their group at off sales premises we have considerable concern about a licence which allows off sales or even on-site sales not as part of a substantial meal.

The committee and licensing officers will be well aware of the disorder associated with other fast food takeaway premises in the city centre.

If the Licensing Authority is minded to grant this licence we would ask the conditions be added requiring alcohol only be served as part of a substantial meal.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Policing Bath: what should the priorities be?

We would like to see more resources given to policing the city centre.

However, we are concerned with the nature of the debate which is now taking place.

Firstly, the fear of crime still remains a greater problem than actual crime. The fear of crime has both economic and socially damaging effects on our community. The way in which the current debate is being conducted is in our view increasing the fear of crime.

Secondly, we need a much more serious debate about where any additional resources released by central government should be spent.

The main focus to-date has centred upon providing a new police station but should this really be the priority?

We would like to see more and better-equipped officers. While we wait for these to be provided better CCTV coverage is key to ensuring limited resources are effectively deployed to combat on-street crime and disorder.

However, what is really likely to make the biggest difference is proper investment in mental health and substance misuse services and programmes to tackle the mental illness issues which are the root cause of most crime and anti-social behaviour.

Indeed proper investment in mental health services would in itself free up police resources as the current poor provision in this area too often means that police become the default service responding to mental health crises for which they are ill equipt and ill-trained.

It is very important to residents that this debate is properly conducted and does not become just another political football.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

The Assembly Rooms

The press release from the National Trust about their plans for the Assembly Rooms raises a number of concerns.

They appear, on the face of it,  to be proposing to deprive residents of a well used and well-loved community asset and endanger the future of one of Bath's most important museum collections in order to create a sort of theme park attraction to be a cash cow for other National Trust properties.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Clean Air still not a priority

For many years we have been campaigning for a plan of action to address the scandal of high levels of pollution poisoning residents of, visitors and workers in the city centre. 

We were pleased when central government funding became available to create a clean air zone and actively participated in the discussions with officers and their specialist advisors in designing the best way to implement it. During the consultation that followed, we actively campaigned that the officers’ carefully consider recommendations should be implemented. 

Unfortunately, the CAZ became a political football where the voting intentions of North East Somerset took precedence over swift and effective action to stop city centre residents’ health being damaged. It also meant that the decision date was pushed back so close to the elections as to jeopardise the implementation of even the suboptimal proposal.

We now face the prospect of further delays and uncertainty as the new council plan to "have the evidence re-examined". 

How many people will have their health permanently damaged while politicians debate whether or not to take decisive action and will the central government funding still be available when they finally decide? 

Charging people £9 to bring highly polluting vehicles into the city we know will make a difference faster than anything else yet proposed so let's get on and do it and start saving lives.

Friday, 12 April 2019

The management of the streetscape

We are concerned about the management of the streetscape and in particular:

  • The management of cycling and cyclists in the city centre
  • 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?
  • Pavement parking
  • The unregulated use of car and cycle parking bays by motorcyclists

Sunday, 7 April 2019

The Policing Debate

We continue to lobby for more resources to be given to policing the city centre. 

However, we are concerned about the nature of the debate which is now taking place. 

Firstly, the fear of crime still remains a greater problem than actual crime. The way in which the current debate is being conducted is in our view increasing the fear of crime. 

Secondly, we need a much more serious debate about where any additional resources should be spent. For instance, not just creating a new police station but spending on having more and or better-equipped officers, more CCTV coverage or perhaps properly funded programmes to tackle the drug dependence and mental illness that drives much of the theft and anti-social behaviour. 

It is very important to residents that this debate is properly conducted and does not become just another political football.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Formal Complaint to Banes

This complaint is about the Highways department and concerns two issues.
  1. Failure to respond to a written enquiry

The relevant BANES policy is:
“We will:
Respond to all written enquiries within 10 working days. This means either:
A full response to your enquiry, or;
If we need to take longer to give a fuller response, we’ll tell you why and what the next steps are, or;
Your emails or web-based requests to our team in-boxes are automatically acknowledged where possible and provide information about next steps
Write clearly and concisely, so that information is easy to read and understand
Include a named contact person and phone numbers in our correspondence”
  1. Failure to deal with a highways obstruction

The relevant BANES policy, which we understand is mandated by legislation, is:
“Encroachment of the Highway  
Any obstruction on the public highway must be appropriately licenced by Bath & North East Somerset Council. Any unlicensed obstruction is an encroachment of the highway and should be reported to Council Connect for Highway Inspection.”

I and my residents’ association have been complaining about the trade waste dump on a pavement in George Street for some years. The dump is located next to at a very busy junction which is crossed daily at all time of the day or night by large numbers of pedestrians who are often forced into the traffic flow.  The dump is often hit by passing HGV’s and buses.
The dump is located close to both residential and business premises and is poorly maintained and causes a number of environmental problems. Local businesses have also complained both to BANES and the BID on numerous occasions and we have had a number meetings in an attempt to resolve issues.
In February of 2018 I on behalf of local residents, the MD of Moles on behalf of local businesses and our ward councillor Peter Turner sent a letter to the highways department in an attempt to clarify the legal status of the dump. I have written on my own behalf a couple of years before but received no reply.
We had had no reply by the summer so we approached the cabinet member responsible for highways who sent two emails about a month apart to Highways requesting a response to our letter.
Since by August we had still not had a response from Highways I submitted an FOI request. This request was responded to in the required legal timescales with a two-word response on a copy of my request.
This response uncovered the fact that the dump was unlicensed and that Highways knew that it was and allowed it to continue to block the Highway without consulting neighbouring premises and without the required license. From the Bid, we have learned that this was a result of discussions they had had with Highways.

It is worthy of note that we have still not received a reply to our original letter.

Saturday, 16 March 2019


We are very disappointed that BANES have chosen to go with option C rather than option D particularly if, as seems likely, this was done electoral reasons.

We are concerned that option C will deliver results much more slowly and may not actually meet EU and WHO standards particularly in the most heavily polluted parts of the city centre.

The decision to let people continue to bring their non-compliant diesel cars into the city will also mean additional particulate pollution which will almost certainly contribute to people having their health severely damaged.

However, given the elections and the already clear propensity of politicians to play politics with this issue we are urging that we now cease the debate and implement option C for which there is now a plan and identified finance.

Let's have something that will make a difference rather than more years of debate and inaction.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

The application to open a pub at the current Garfunkles premises

We are objecting to this application because we believe there is evidence that these premises already create nuisance which undermines the objectives of the Licensing Act and that there is a reasonable expectation that the applicant’s proposals will increase that nuisance without additional conditions.

This business is within the Empire building which is primarily residential and is home to many elderly residents, the premises are close to other noise and nuisance sensitive residential premises. The building is in the heart of the Cumulative Impact Zone and residents of the Empire regularly report disturbance outside. The current level of business at the existing restaurant means that complaints about noise and smoke in residential units are less than in the past but complaints about noise and smoke are still been made particularly in relation to the terrace. Since the purpose of this application is to increase business there is clearly a potential for nuisance to return to historic levels.

The use of the terrace is of particular concern both because it is the major source of nuisance to residences but also because of its potential to allow interaction between customers and passing crowds of people many of whom particularly at night, will be under the influence of alcohol.
It is worth noting that the terrace is directly under the windows of the nearest noise sensitive premises and that the applicants own noise advisors have expressed concern about the challenge this represents in preventing nuisance.

We believe this application will increase the potential for nuisance because it will increase the number of customers who are drinking alcohol and drinking alcohol without food. There are also indications in the applicant's submissions to BANES that they intend to increase the amount of vertical drinking or at the least do nothing to restrict it. From other premises, we know that an increase in vertical drinking independent of food leads to an increase in disorder.
The BANES cumulative impact policy creates a rebuttable presumption that applications for new premises licences, club premises certificates or variations relating to “on trade” premises situated within the Cumulative Impact Area, will be refused if relevant representations are received. In order to rebut this presumption, applicants must demonstrate that the operation of the premises will not add to the cumulative impact already being experienced.

While we must thank the applicant for the very considerable efforts they have made to engage with us and address our concerns and while considerable progress has been made in many areas we still contend that the applicant has failed to demonstrate that the operation of the premises will not add to the cumulative impact already being experienced.
We would all welcome the renovation and revitalisation of this important premises this should not be at the expense of residents quality of life nor a should it undermine council licensing policy.
To avoid this we would ask the committee to impose the following conditions:

  1. That alcohol should not be sold before 10 am in line with neighbouring premises.
  2. That alcohol should not be sold after 22.30 on a Sunday evening again in line with
    neighbouring premises.
  3. That substantial food should be available during all the hours when alcohol is being sold.
  4. That customers using the terrace must be seated and have drinks served by waiting staff
  5. There shall be no emptying of bottle bins outside the buildings outside following times,
    Monday to Sunday including bank holidays or public holidays 08.00 to 22.00 hours.
  6. A direct telephone number be available at all times the premises is open. The telephone
    number is to be made available to residents and businesses in the vicinity.’
  7. The outside area shall be used for the supply of food and/or drink only between the hours of
    9:00 and 22.00 and shall be cleared of customers by 22.30.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Objection to change of use application 7 Bladud Buildings

Bladud Buildings was laid out by Attwood and Jolly in the 1750s and gradually assumed its present role as a mixed residential and commercial terrace during the nineteenth century.  When residential and commercial uses are established, permitted or encouraged in a terraced structure in a predominantly residential area it is vital that commercial premises do not, as a result of accumulated planning consents, gradually undermine the amenity of people living in the area.
The applicant in this case seeks to convert the use of the premises from night club (sui generis) to pub (A4).  Among the works proposed is the provision of a partially roofed outside drinking area at the rear of the property in what is presently the ‘garden’.  Due to noise nuisance from high volumes of traffic on the Paragon many Bladud Buildings residents have their bedrooms at the rear of the property.  In addition, the main Bath YMCA building is a short distance to the south west.  Finally, numbers 45 and 47 Walcot Street, which incorporate existing and proposed residential accommodation on upper floors, occupy a position immediately to the south of the premises.  This is therefor a highly noise sensitive location particularly at night and the introduction of an open drinking area in a raised position at the rear of 7 Bladud Buildings is likely to have a severely adverse impact on the amenity of local residents contrary to Policy D6 of the council’s Adopted Placemaking Plan.
We therefor ask that the application be REFUSED.  If, however, the council is minded to grant consent we ask that conditions be attached that would

  • Provide for the clearance of patrons from open drinking areas at the rear of the property by 10.00 pm nightly.

  • Prevent the provision of musical performances, whether live or recorded, in open drinking areas at the rea of the property.

  • Require details to be provided to and approved by the Local Planning Authority of design and construction of the fence at the south boundary of the property to ensure the preservation of daylight available to residents whose property adjoins the boundary.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Dary's change of use application

We are concerned that the applicant's plans do not incorporate areas to store and aid the collection of waste. The area already has considerable issues with badly managed collections of trade waste being stored on the street in both approved and unapproved locations. Rodents are regularly observed in the area.

This change of use increases both the amount and changes the nature, i.e. an increase in organic material, of the waste created by this business.

We believe it is unacceptable that no provision is being made to manage this.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Response to The Lilliput Court Cafe licencing application

We note that these premises are in the cumulative impact zone.

The premises are in a old building with all the sound proofing and sound transmission issues are created by Georgian building construction standards and techniques. Residents regularly report that the applicants have failed to address this challenge either through proper sound proofing or through proper management practices designed to reduce noise nuisance. Consequently all residents but particularly those directly above them, frequently report unacceptable noise in their premises.

These premises are very close to residential premises particularly the courtyard which is a source of both noise and smoke. One resident has windows less than 20 metres from the door from the courtyard to the interior. The design and construction of Lilliput Courtyard retains the noise generated by conversations and projects it upwards.

The proposed extension to hours in this application would considerably increase the already unsatisfactory levels of noise nuisance to which residents are currently subjected in an area which has already  been impacted by a failure to meet the spirit if not the letter of the cumulative impact policy.

We therefore call on the committee to reject this application.

However, if the committee is minded to grant the application we would ask for additional conditions to be imposed as follows.

  • All outdoor areas to be cleared within 15 minutes of closing
  • No noise generated from the premises to be audible at the nearest noise sensitive premises
  • Noise limiters to be fitted to all amplification systems set to levels agreed with environmental health.