Friday, 31 July 2020

Sally Lunns

While we are sympathetic to businesses struggling in the wake of Covid some application for using the pavements for dining are taking advantage of the more relaxed procedures beyond what is reasonable. Sally Lunns are we believe are an example. 

They are effectively proposing to take over a residential area of the city centre to create a new business running till 23:00 hrs which will create noise and severely reduced space to walk safely. Many local residents are elderly and live in buildings vulnerable to noise. The application is as follows:
Every Day, 09:00 to 23:00
Dimensions of area
9m x 2.1m and 2.8m x 14m
25 tables, 50 chairs
In Northumberland Buildings

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Pedestrian spaces

Amid all the furore about pedestrianisation, low traffic neighbourhood and the health benefits of walking we have noticed that in reality space for walking is becoming harder to find.

Most highways plans, in fact, do not even refer to spaces for walking any more but spaces for walking and cycling. This probably reflects the success of a well-organised cycling lobby but fails to recognise the inherent conflict between pedestrians, particularly pedestrians with mobility issues, and cyclists in shared spaces.

Cyclists who claimed that they had to use pavements because of the amount of traffic continued to use pavements during the lockdown when there was little or no traffic on the roads. Officialdom still does nothing to stop or even impede cyclists travelling at speed and/or in large groups through the cities pedestrian routes and green spaces.

Some time ago when CART announced it intended to create a high spec metaled surface on the canal towpath local objectors warned that this would turn a much-used foot route into a cycling race track. At the time the cycling lobby mocked this suggestion but anyone using the towpath now will know the objectors were right.

The council has used its emergency powers to widen pavements to allow social distancing but still, nothing is being done about pavement parking which often undoes their efforts, as do restaurants which expand beyond their licenced outdoor table areas or shops who brake the a-board regulations.

Pavements broken up by cars and commercial vehicles remain unrepaired for long periods of time creating further hazards for walkers.

We see calls for more planters in pedestrian spaces in the city as well as calls to greatly expand alfresco dining on city centre pavements and pedestrianised areas. Neither, of these we object to in principle but they do not seem to be part of a well thought through plan and seem to ignore the needs of pedestrians.

Finally, we see calls to allow electric scooters and electric bikes to be added to the skateboards which already weave around startled walkers.

At one stage BANES paid for a well-research strategy for public realm spaces and movement through them but this was never implemented what now seems to be on offer is a smorgasbord of fashionable urban planning experiments often taken out of contexts quite unlike those that prevail in Bath.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Digital Exclusion

The Covid-19 crisis has pushed many people and organisations to make much greater use of digital systems and this is likely to continue into the post Covid world as organisations exploit their newly developed capability to deliver service via IT at a greatly reduced cost and newly skilled consumers become more and more comfortable with services delivered in this way.

More and more public bodies including BANES and the NHS are now planning to build on the on-line systems and processes they developed during the crisis. Residents have become much more comfortable with online service delivery which will, in turn, reduce the demand for traditional face-to-face services and make them less economically viable.

This will or should put the issue of digital exclusion front and centre for policymakers. Many of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community cannot afford to access IT and/or lack the ability to use it. This effect has been exacerbated by the closure of libraries and the underfunding of libraries. These have traditionally been where people in this position could be able to access both computers and help and training in using them.

The underfunding of libraries has been further impacted by vocal campaigns, usually led by the digitally included, to privilege book-based library services in the allocation of what limited funding does become available.

TARA is aking BANES what their plans are to address these issue as we enter the post-Covid world.