Thursday, 31 December 2009

Night Patrol

On Saturday December 19th Between 01.30 and 02.30 we carried out one of our regular patrols of city centre streets. The weather was damp and chilly, no wind. The focus was on night clubs: Moles, Blue Rooms, Back to Mine, Club XL, Opium, the Weir, OPA, Po Na Na, Qube and Second Bridge. We also visited the Huntsman, Bog Island, where it appeared that the problem of excessive noise from inside the pub had been dealt with.

Crowds on the street, drunkenness and noise levels appeared to be about average. There were no exceptional ‘incidents’ to report. With the exception of door staff security observed by us consisted of one street marshal (City Marshal) patrol, one mobile police patrol and one Street Pastor patrol. We saw no police on foot. Door staff, though usually present, were scarcely visible and in general were making no effort to control noise at the door. Only the OPA doorman had on a high visibility jacket. Back to Mine appeared to be in breach of licence conditions as their doorman was not wearing a reflective jacket.

As usual the main problem, which varied in severity from club to club, was the noisy crowds of arriving and departing customers and smokers at club entrances and the noise of music which blarred into the street as entrance doors were constantly opened and closed. We will continue to insist that door staff are an essential element in enhancing the safety and security of our streets at night and should look and behave as if this was the case. In particular, all security staff on our streets should wear high visibility jackets of the kind that have proved so successful in other cities such as Norwich.

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Thursday, 24 December 2009

TARA's Response to the BANES Core Strategy - Key Points

• We would like to see recognition of the fact that part of the special nature of Bath derives from the number of people choosing to live in the historic centre of the city.
• We would like to see more emphasis on the importance of walking and pedestrian access in the city.
• The importance of independent retailers in the making the Bath retail offer distinctive needs to be highlighted
• We would like to see air quality as a separate health issue not just an add on to the traffic problem
• We would like to see acknowledgement of the problem created by the imbalance in the evening economy with the dominance of vertical drinking establishment over other forms of premises tending to exclude families and causing nuisance for residents and law enforcement
• The question of student accommodation is rather oddly presented as an objective. This is at least as much an issue for the development of the campuses and their adjoining communities as it is for central Bath.
• We would have concern over any strategy which emphasised the need for identifiable commercial office units in the centre of Bath over other requirements such as cultural and tourism facilities

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Cleanliness Issues in Bath City Centre

Things we still see too often

1. Black bags tearing open
2. Bottles and glasses whole and broken
3. Chewing gum on pavements
4. Cigarette smokers from shops and other business premises using other peoples doorways to smoke in
5. Coffee cups and other takeaway food litter
6. Confusions about rubbish collection days leading to bags and boxes being on the street for several days and acting as a magnet for litter
7. Fly Tipping
8. General littering
9. Gulls tearing black bags
10. Litter dropped by people hanging about outside clubs and bars to smoke, talk and get fresh air
11. Litter dropped by people queuing to get into clubs and bars
12. Litter thrown in doorways and alcoves in the property line that are not cleaned by the street cleaners
13. People using the Charity Shops as a cover for fly tipping
14. Smokers stubbing cigarettes out on walls
15. Spitting on pavements
16. Street drinkers rifling through black bags and charity shop “donations”
17. The street cleaning schedule being out of step with peak littering/bleeding/vomiting times
18. Trade waste left overnight or poorly collected
18. Urine everywhere
19. Vomit on in alcoves, doorways and walls not tackled by street cleaning services
20. Vomit on pavements

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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

TARA comments on the Cork planning application

The garden area of these premises on the James Street West side has, since mid June this year been the source of a major noise nuisance to local residents.

There is seating provision for a very large number of people and in addition large numbers of people can and do stand.

Local residents have made numerous formal complaints to Environmental Health. We understand that in late August the Cork was served with a Noise Abatement Order. Residents report that they have done little to comply with this.

Residents have reported that the noise from these premises in the summer months routinely disturbs their sleep and make their lives a misery.

Nearby residents include elderly people and people with significant health problems.

The creation of an outdoor drinking area on this scale in this area is wholly inappropriate.

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Friday, 4 December 2009

TARA comments on the Olive Branch development

Local residents on Milsom Street, George Street and Gay Street already suffer considerable noise nuisance and other forms of public nuisance from licensed premises in the front of their buildings.

Up to now the noise nuisance at the rear of these buildings has been minimal. These proposed new premises threaten this and the quiet enjoyment of their premises of the more immediate neighbours

The premises lie at the focus of an amphitheatre formed by the backs of the buildings in Old King Street, Gay Street, George Street and Milsom Street which makes this location a particularly sensitive one when considering the potential noise nuisance

Of particular concern is the owners intention to create a roof garden. A sizable crowd of people socialising, eating and drinking at this level in an open area will inevitably create a significant noise and it is not clear how they will manage noise generated here to avoid causing significant disturbance to neighbours

Outdoor areas in licence premises are a frequent source of nuisance and complaint.

In a noise sensitive area like this we believe such an outdoor area at roof level, which in the case of many residents will mean the level of their bedroom windows, should not be allowed.

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Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Latest PACT meeting

The Abbey and Kingsmead PACT Meeting took place on Wednesday 4th November 2009 at The Guildhall, Bath. The following priorities were agreed at that meeting:
• Commercial food waste left out in plastic bags.
• Parking on the pavement.
• Coach parking in the City Centre.
The panel will work towards resolving these issues and will report back at the next PACT meeting scheduled for 6.30pm on Wednesday 27th January 2010 at The Guildhall, Bath.

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Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Bath Night Watch

On October 21st City Centre Manager Andrew Cooper and his Night Time Economy Officer Jodie Smith launched the Bath Night Watch scheme at O’Neill’s, a converted Methodist chapel in Saw Close. The scheme, which has been months in preparation, offers Bath licensees a package of measures aimed at improving information sharing and communications between licensees, the police and Council officials in an effort to reduce night time rowdyness and petty crime in the city centre. Subscribing licensees, who will pay an average of about £1000 a year and could include pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels and even supermarkets, will benefit from an enhanced, integrated radio network which links licensed premises to each other, to the police, street marshals and CCTV controllers in the basement of the Guildhall so that information can be instantly exchanged on street incidents and the movements of known troublemakers. In addition, the number of street and taxi marshals patrolling the city centre will be increased and promotional material such as window stickers and beer mats will be made available to subscribers.

Late night alcohol-fuelled anti social behaviour has long been high on the list of concerns of city centre residents. Among measures which TARA has consistently pressed on Council and police officials over the past few years has been better co-ordination among those responsible for the management of the night time economy and the need to agree common standards for licensees wishing to do business in Bath. City centre residents will therefore welcome the arrival of an organisation which has the potential to replace the defunct Bath Bar Charter Group and the inactive Licensing Forum as a body capable of raising the standards of night life in Bath to the level we all expect.

There are certainly concerns, however. Though it was good to see that some 40 licensees attended the launch at O’Neill’s it was far from clear how much support there is in the city centre for Night Watch, particularly among the larger supermarkets and pub chains. Without broad support the pioneers among Bath’s licensees who have loyally and consistently supported such initiatives in the past will, yet again, feel that their larger and more powerful competitors who are immune to peer pressure are getting a free ride at their expense. It is equally unclear at this stage how Night Watch is to be managed and whether city centre residents will consulted or involved. Without resident participation there is a danger that, even it is successful, the Night Watch scheme will fail to address the issues that can make weekend nights in Bath city centre an ordeal for both residents and visitors: the noisy crowds outside night clubs in the early hours of the morning, the shouting, shrieking and brawling and the fast food litter, vomit, urine and broken windows that are all too often revealed at dawn.

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Monday, 9 November 2009

Street Cleanliness in Bath

On October 5th Councillor Charles Gerrish (Customer Services) gave a meeting of the Bath City Liaison Forum details of proposed improvements in the city’s street cleansing and
litter removal programme. These included
• An additional one-off contribution to the budget of £54,000.
• New street cleansing vehicles which should help to release staff time for street cleaning. These include 3 Brava cleansing machines aimed at clearing cigarette butts, etc, 2 new street washer/sweeper vehicles, 2 new vehicles for litter bin collection, 2 ‘walk and work’ mobile platforms and a Dimax Odormaster to combat the effects of public urination and vomiting.
• The relocation of staff and equipment to local depots to increase efficiency. Avon Street in being considered and talks are in hand with the Southgate and Podium shopping centres.
• New uniforms under private sponsorship.
• Dedicated and identifiable area teams.
• Route optimization.
• Trial in the Southgate centre of Magicote, a product that helps in the cleansing of street surfaces.
• A public education campaign.
• Improved enforcement especially against restaurants.
• A joint study with Bristol and Bath to co-ordinate approaches to the gull menace.
Residents, including TARA members, who contributed hours of their time to the work of the Task and Finish Group, set up earlier in the year by the Forum to advise the Council
on ways of improving the cleanliness of our streets, can hardly complain that no notice is being taken of their ideas and proposals. Nevertheless, with no apparent increase
in the regular city budget for street cleansing, currently about average for cities across the nation, it is hard to see how these measures on their own will meet the Forum’s
avowed aspiration and number one priority, to make Bath the cleanest city in the nation. City centre residents should remain vigilant and report litter and cleanliness
problems immediately to Council Connect 01225 394041.

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Sunday, 4 October 2009

Fly Tipping

One of the persistent problems in the centre of Bath is rubbish in our streets. This derives from many activities smoking, casual littering, uncollected or badly collected trade and household rubbish and rubbish put out for collection on the wrong day. However, I want to focus on another persistent source of mess and that is "donations" for Charity Shops left outside when the shop is closed. This stuff is unsightly in the form in which it is left but it usually ends up being picked over and scattered by passing vagrants and late night revellers. Most of the charity shops ask people not to leave stuff outside their premises and much of what is left in this way is of very poor quality and little value.

The suspicion must be that those doing this know that the shops would probably not want they are leaving and therefore do not bring it to the shop when it is open or call the shop to collect. It seems that dropping it outside a charity shop is often just more convenient than taking it to the dump.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Trial of Portable Toilets

There is to be a 12 week trial of portable toilets in Orange Grove on three days a week between 10pm and 3pm. The trial has the support of the police who argue that it is difficult to take effective enforcement action against street urination where there are so few public conveniences. The scheme also has the support of Fobra who are anxious see the council addressing the issue of public urination. The choice of location was, as we understand it, dictated by the need for the loos to be sited centrally and the need for some supervision which in Orange Grove can be provided by the late night taxi wardens.

TARA have a view that while the trial has value there is real concern that it will be unsuccessful as research has show we have now created a culture where vomiting and urinating in public carries little or no stigma among young late night drinkers and that they will urinate where it is most convenient for them; indeed you can see people leave licensed premises to urinate on the street before returning to the pub or club rather than queue for the pub toilet.

There is a need to create better permanent public facilities and reinstate some of the one that were closed and we will continue to lobby accordingly. There is however in addition an urgent need to counter the culture of public urination by a mixture of education about the damage and distress it causes and a much tougher enforcement regime.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Recent Developments at North Parade

Many of you will know that the OPA nightclub applied for a licence variation that would have enabled it the sell alcohol on a parcel of land it was planning to lease from BaNES in Parade Gardens. The applicant sought to argue that such a variation would reduce nuisance to neighbours by cutting back on the need for customers to gather at the club entrance.

TARA and a number of local residents objected to this proposal on the grounds that it would merely add a further source of night time disturbance to residents. On July 29th the Licensing Panel accepted these arguments and rejected the application.

An appeal by the owner of the Penny Lane party boat against conditions imposed by the Licensing Panel was heard by Bath magistrates on August 26th. TARA had provided written evidence to the court and offered to assist the defendant, Bath and North East Somerset District Council, with verbal evidence at the appeal hearing but in the event this was not necessary as the appellant elected not to dispute any of the evidence provided by the defendant and his witnesses.

The magistrates decided to tighten conditions relating to the closure of doors and windows, the loading and unloading of the vessel and the posting of signs requiring the operator to have regard to the needs of local residents. The ban on the playing of music outside the vessel after 22.00 when it is east of Churchill Bridge was replaced by a condition requiring that no music be played outside the vessel in any location after 22.30 each day.

In our view the magistrates afforded local residents at least the same or better protection than had been proposed by the Licensing Panel. It will be important, however, for residents to continue to monitor the operation of this vessel and its adherence to licence conditions.

Given time limits imposed previously by the Licensing Panel on the use of the riverside terraces, and assuming that the OPA owner is in compliance with these conditions, night time disturbances from this area should have been largely eliminated.

This leaves noise and disturbance caused by smokers and arriving and departing customers at the club entrance. We intend to call a meeting of residents in the next few weeks to review this and other issues of concern to see what further action needs to be taken. In the meantime resident should continue to monitor and log nuisances and disturbances in their area from whatever source.