QUESTIONS from Joanna Wright to B&NES CABINET, July 2022

Question 1

In the Lib Dem B&NES Liveable Neighbourhoods information for the public consultation, the council haven’t put in any maps of the main routes and key network across the whole of Bath. Without the maps, people can’t see how they will be affected.  Therefore, everyone should be part of the consultation. Instead, B&NES Council under your direction have, it appears, used the consultants, AECOM, who are now consulting at a very limited street level. This doesn’t let residents take the wider view. People don’t just care about the street they live in, but about their whole city journey and the lives of their neighbours. This is poor engagement. It’s hard to see how this can be the foundation for effective delivery of the Liveable Neighbourhood policies. Poor engagement will also turn many residents against the positive possibilities of people friendly streets.

Is this how AECOM have advised that you run the consultations, and if there are differences, please share them?

What discussions have you had with AECOM conducting only micro-level, limited-street consultations?

How are you going to retrofit broader public consultation into the process?

ANSWER From Cllr Warren

The Liveable Neighbourhoods programme is being delivered in line with the strategy adopted in July 2020. In line with this strategy, in June 2021 Cabinet agreed to proceed with the current 15 priority liveable neighbourhood areas. Between November 2021 and January 2022, a wide engagement was then undertaken which sought to identify key themes for each neighbourhood. Respondents expressed a desire for changes to improve pedestrian safety, reduce ‘rat running’ and speeding, improve cycling infrastructure and improve the public realm. The current stage of the delivery programme is co-design with the communities in the 15 areas. These workshops are focused on understanding people’s ‘lived experience’ of their communities – what’s good, what needs to be nurtured, key movement patterns and potential interventions. So far, they have been well received. The project team are also engaging with school children, young adults and other lesser heard voices within these communities to understand their thoughts and concerns, and what they would also like to see improved. The next step will be to feed back all that’s been heard at a series of exhibitions that will be open to all. The team will then engage again at the preliminary design stage and ultimately consult at the detailed design stage, either prior to implementation or via an experimental TRO approach. We are far from any final decisions being made and there will be ample opportunity for everyone to be part of the process

Question 2

What actions have been taken to include children’s voices and views across the region into the Liveable Neighbourhood consultation? Please give full details?

Answer from Cllr Warren

As part of the liveable neighbourhoods programme, Sustrans are providing support with additional engagement activities to increase the involvement of underrepresented groups alongside the main co-design workshops for the Phase 1 schemes. Activities to support youth engagement, resident engagement as well as support for a city-wide stakeholder event are taking place.   

Youth specific activities are being delivered in all 15 Liveable Neighbourhood areas, the engagement involves interactive drop-in sessions with young people, including carers where suitable. Sessions are taking place at organised activities in schools, after school clubs, youth clubs, through nurseries and at community events.  At these sessions large maps are being used to gather information with post-it and sticky labels to gain an understanding of what young people think of their street or area.

In three Liveable Neighbourhood areas there has been more in-depth engagement with young people, priority has been given to more deprived areas where possible, which so far has led to co-design workshops taking place with young people from Foxhill and Southdown. The co-design sessions provide an introduction to the concept of liveability, an audit of their street either physically or virtually, and the development of ideas on improving liveability in their street or area.

The outputs from the above sessions will be used to inform designs.

The youth engagement dialogue (in addition to the activities with other underrepresented groups) will continue as the liveable neighbourhoods programme proceeds through the prelim design/further engagement and detailed design/final consultation stages.

Question 3

As Ward councillor for Lambridge I am repeatedly being asked by residents and local businesses where are the Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) in Lambridge?  On repeated occasions CEOs have been asked to come to Lambridge to fine vehicles for overstaying on 30-minutewaiting zone in the Larkhall Square. It would appear that the CEO officers are directed by senior management to focus on the centre of Bath,thus many parts of the city are left with no CEOs checking on the misuse of parking spaces, including Lambridge. With the recent consultation of Resident Parking Zones (RPZ) in Walcot the need, I have asked repeatedly how will the Council be increasing the number of CEOs to oversee the many more cars that will now use Lambridge as the Park and Ride on the East of Bath.

Please can you give me full details of what CEOs have been Lambridge Ward in the last 3 months?

Please can you give full details of the number of extra CEOs that will be recruited to work across the city to maintain the RPZs and the misuse of parking spaces in non-RPZ sites across the city?

Answer from Cllr Rigby

As you’ll no doubt be aware the council is not immune to the national challenges facing many sectors across the country that are actively looking to recruit staff, noting that earlier this month it was reported that for the first time on record the number of job vacancies was greater than the number of individuals seeking employment.

The role of Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO), which can be challenging to recruit to under more usual circumstances due to often inaccurate national stereotypes, experiences higher turnover than other council jobs due to the physical nature of the role.  

Currently the council has 13 vacancies out of a total of 30 posts and we are working to address this shortfall and the national recruitment challenges by reviewing the way the role is both advertised and how the role is delivered operationally.  As a role that covers shifts across the working day, 7 days a week, it is often perceived as not attractive or compatible to many potential candidates that have ongoing commitments; for example, those with young families, or those that are in full time education.  An example of some early and successful changes have been implemented are the use of financial incentives such as golden hello and retention payments.

Even without these pressures, our CEOs are typically unable to respond reactively to reports of vehicles that are alleged to be in contravention as often the vehicles will have left by the time our officer arrives, and this reduces their effectiveness and impacts on other locations.  However, these reports provide valuable intelligence that the team use to proactively deploy officers to areas at specific times in order to address consistent issues, although of course resources may also have an impact on this.

Whilst it may appear that team resources are prioritised within the city centre, this is more a reflection of the fact that within the city centre there exists a greater concentration of restrictions and locations where motorists are more likely to exercise selfish behaviour.  We have a statutory duty to enforce a valid restriction and officers will seek meet this duty by balancing the resources that are available, with intelligence from the community a key part of this.  Reports can be submitted to the Parking team at parking@bathnes.gov.uk.

Technology also has a key role to play in providing more effective and efficient coverage, particular when resources are limiting.   Whilst we are unable to use our vehicles equipment with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to issue automatic Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) we can use them to survey vehicles in permit areas.  We operate the first compliant electric moped in the country fitted with these cameras, providing greater flexibility compared to a car as its able to stop in small spaces to investigate a possible vehicle without a permit.  Planned changes this later this year to our pay and display equipment so that cash payments are linked to our enforcement system will allow CEOs to cover car parks using our ANPR equipment in the same way (we will still have to have officers issue PCN directly) and this will release staff to cover on street areas.

Since April 1st this year, locations within the Lambridge Ward have received 229 visits by a CEO, recording 148 observations resulting a 49 PCNs being issued where compliance wasn’t achieved.  Whilst there are no proposals to add additional CEO posts to the team, the proposals described above are intended to reduce the number of vacancies and improve the effectiveness of CEOs so that these additional areas can be ensured of regular coverage.

Question 4

In November 2021 I asked this council for financial training from the Local Government Authority (LGA) and was told that it was not possible for me to have this training. The Treasury Management Code of 2017 states it is the responsibility of the relevant Officer for an Authority to ensure that all council members have access to relevant financial training. 

I have contacted both the CEO of B&NES and the Section 151 Officer and asked for financial training since November 2021. It is now July 2022 and over eight months have passed and there has been no progression with financial training for myself or any Councillor who does not sit on the Corporate Policy and Scrutiny Committee. Yet every councillor is responsible for signing off the Council’s budget. 

As Leader of Council are you able to put in place proper financial training for all Cllrs so that councillors can properly fulfil our legal responsibility to sign off this council’s budgets having been given appropriate financial training? 

Answer from Cllr Davies

The Council does not have an approved budget at an adequate level to fund external training courses for individual Councillors. 

To accommodate Councillor Wright’s request, access has been given to the Council online finance training modules that give a comprehensive overview of Local Government Finance and Financial Management. In addition, the Council’s S151 Officer and Deputy S151 Officer will be providing an all-Councillor workshop on Council Finances in October to help Councillors prepare for the 2023/24 budget proposal. This workshop will have the added advantage of being specifically tailored to BANES Council’s finances, thereby ensuring that it will be an effective use of Councillors’ time and focus on the areas of particular relevance to their role as BANES Councillors.

Question 5

Many residents are unaware of the ecological emergency issues declared by B&NES Council and the ongoing need to restore habitat and nature recovery. Many see the long grass and plants in verges as purposeful neglect by the council. What pro-active and long-term messaging are you creating to be delivered throughout B&NES to enable residents of all ages and backgrounds to help support them and make better sense of the changes to grass cutting and weeds on the highway?

Answer from David Wood

There is information about the Council’s Let’s Get Buzzing project on the Council website which follows guidance from high profile, independent national campaigns such as The Blue campaign, and Plantlife’s Road Verges and No Mow May initiatives; and in line with the practices of most other district and unitary authorities. The Let’s Get Buzzing campaign has also been adopted by parish and town councils, such as Saltford and Radstock.  

Since September, B&NES has been inviting residents to help contribute to the Let’s Get Buzzing project by volunteering to help improve verges as part of the Neighbourhood Nature Area scheme. There is an explanation of the scheme on the Council’s website and an information pack will shortly be sent to all ward councillors to help publicise and promote the scheme.

Question 6

In May’s Cabinet I addressed a question to you asking “How will the Council begin to work with the UNESCO Slave Route Project to question the social, cultural and economic inequalities inherited from this tragedy? Will B&NES Officers read the Jan 2021 Healing the Wounds of Slave Trade and Slavery report and report back with immediate and practical steps towards connecting with the Slave Route project to Bath with the Council taking a lead in this work?”

Your response stated:

“The World Heritage Centre’s primary purpose is to help visitors to Bath understand what a World Heritage Site is and why Bath was inscribed as one. It is not a space where a detailed history of Bath is explored and the press release reflected this. However, in the permanent displays in the centre there is prominent reference made to the fact that some of the wealth that created Georgian Bath (and hence one aspect of the UNESCO listing – the classical, Palladian architecture) was derived from Britain’s involvement in the Transatlantic Trade. Further to this, Heritage Services would like to undertake a more in-depth exploration of this subject in the temporary display area of the centre. The exhibition programme for this space will be established post opening. It is worth noting that other institutions in Bath have, and continue to interrogate, the history of Bath’s involvement in Transatlantic Enslavement. Displays at Bath Abbey and the Holburne Museum will hopefully be complemented shortly by renovated interpretation at Beckford’s Tower. These sites all have direct connections to enslavement and it is wholly appropriate and highly relevant to their locations and specific histories that they have undertaken to exploring these connections. Whilst the World Heritage Centre can introduce the story to visitors to Bath, they will then be able to explore it in detail at these other venues during their visit to the city.”


Are you aware that using the term “Transatlantic Trade”, in this response, is in itself a way of obfuscating the role of slavery and fails to address the healing needed.  The lack of active historical information about the role of the “Transatlantic Slave Trade” and the huge profits that many in the city of Bath made from this human misery is at the centre of the question and the real need for Leadership in Bath and North EastSomerset is the ongoing challenge that is being asked of you.  What are you going to do to create immediate and practical steps towards connecting with the UNESCO Slave Route Project to Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site visited by millions every year?

Answer from Cllr Guy

At this time there are no further plans for B&NES to connect with the UNESCO Slave Route Project.

Question 7

What provisions are you making to put in place the Council owned site at Deadmill Lane/Gloucester Road into an appropriate allotment and possible orchard site in Lambridge? What is the timescale for delivery of this?

Answer from Cllr David Wood

The land at Deadmill Lane was given to the Council for use as an allotment as part of the S106 agreement relating to the development of Southbourne Gardens but the agreement did not involve a transfer of funds for the development of new allotments at Deadmill Lane and the £60,000 transferred to the Council was used to create new allotment provision at Fairfield Valley.

The principal obstacle to the development of the new allotment site at Deadmill Lane is the requirement to provide new pedestrian or vehicular access to facilitate vegetation clearance and ongoing maintenance. There is currently no budget for such a scheme. 

The Council has a right of access for vehicles and pedestrians across the adjacent land which has been recently subject to a planning application and refusal for the development of 15 affordable dwellings. The Council’s Parks Department had responded to the planning application consultation requesting that the developer provide a vehicular and pedestrian access to the Councils land at Deadmill Lane as a condition of planning permission.

In the event that there are any future planning applications relating to the adjacent land, representation for new access into the Council land will be made. In the absence of a budget to progress the scheme there is no timescale for the development of new allotments or community growing spaces on the land.

Question 8

Residents in the ward of Lambridge wish to run services under a public highway in a duct, using approved contractors, supervised by B&NESand fulfilling all regulatory requirements. 

They want to do this so that they can charge EVs, feed solar panel energy back to their homes from their gardens across the street and facilitate home working – all things aligned with confronting the climate emergency.  

Such needs are envisaged and facilitated by NRSWA Section 50, which provides a suitable licencing regime “…the street authority may grant a licence permitting a person … to place… apparatus in the street…”

NRSWA -The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA), supported by relevant Regulations and Codes of Practice, provides a legislative framework for street works by undertakers (including utility companies) and works for road purposes – to the extent that these must be co-ordinated by street authorities.

B&NES council has to date refused residents this NRSWA Section 50 permission.

What actions are the Council taking to give residents permission to put ducts under the pavement to charge electric vehicles and or run cable from their homes from solar chargers?

Answer from Cllr Rigby

The New Roads and Street Works Act was written at a time before solar energy and electric vehicles were widely available. Our Highways team are concerned that a Section 50 licence does not provide the council with the necessary protection from liability and give it sufficient certainty should future works in the highway be needed to access or repair that cable and its ducting. This differs to when utility companies place their cables within the highway because these are ‘adopted’, which places certain responsibilities on them and cannot necessarily be replicated on a private individual through a Section 50 licence. 

The council is keen to enable more people to change to electric vehicles and to use solar power, but the placing of private electrical cables beneath a public road requires certain safeguards and guarantees that we are not currently satisfied can be sufficiently provided through a Section 50 licence.

We understand the government is reviewing this matter and we are also making legal enquiries as to how we can enable residents to do this whilst ensuring the council does not become liable for dealing with any future incidents that may arise from private electrical cables within the public highway.

Question 9

Presently it is very challenging for anyone to navigate the many supposed offerings for reductions on train travel, particularly with regard toyoung people accessing education. I have looked online at the GWR website and searched for information on the Scholars Scheme.  I could not find any reference to it. It is quite clear that many young people are unable to use the Scholars Scheme as neither the train operator or school have informed the student of this reduction, nor is there any information on the GWR website how, so how is anyone to know?  

This is not fair, and fares should be fair for young people attending education.

As Cabinet Member who leads on issues around young children what will you be undertaking to make sure all schools across B&NES offer students the Scholars Scheme?

Answer from Cllr Dine Romero

We are working with schools to promote sustainable and independent travel to schools; advocating for affordable fares across the public transport network with WECA and other transport provides such as the Rail Operators is a key part of this. We will shortly be recruiting a school travel officer and will ensure that they pass on all information received regarding travel offers to schools.

Question 10

What has the East Express Feasibility Study cost to date?  What is the forecasted carbon output of this bus route?

Answer from Cllr Warren

The West of England Combined Authority funded a feasibility study into a bus service on the East of Bath. The East of Bath Express Feasibility Study has cost approximately £130,000 (2020/21 financial year). The study investigated the potential demand for a high frequency direct, metro style bus service along the A4 corridor between Chippenham and Bath. 

We are in the process of preparing the report for publication and will release it in due course, containing detail of carbon emissions for the options modelled.

Question 11

Please can you list the actionable quantified roadmap to carbon neutrality that you are overseeing?

Answer from Cllr Warren

The latest progress report on climate action was brought to Council in March and can be found here:  https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/documents/s70850/Climate%20Emergency%20Annual%20Report.pdf  with the outline route map in the Appendix here: https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/documents/s70936/Appendix%20-%20Climate%20Report.pdf. As noted in this year’s report, more detailed work on the route map is being undertaken in 2022-23 and will be reported in the next annual report to Council.

Question 12

What actions have you taken as Cabinet Member to work with housing associations such as Curo and LiveWest to deliver safe cycle storage solutions to many residents who live in properties with no place to store a bicycle?

Answer from Cllr Warren

We are committed to improving safe cycle storage facilities and will be trialling on-street cycle storage hangers by the end of 2022.

Question 13

Brighton is set to become the first city in the UK to take action against second homeowners and holiday lets after a wave of buyers during the coronavirus pandemic pushed house prices to over £500,000. Local Green Councillors have voted to ask officials to draw up proposals which will ban new-build second homes and holiday lets in some areas of East Sussex.

What actions are you and the Cabinet putting in place to deal with the many second homeowners in Bath, the holiday lets and the air B&B Accommodation that has now made Bath and surrounding areas unaffordable to many local residents?

Answer from Cllr Davies

Preparation of the new Local Plan for B&NES is now underway, and this provides the opportunity to review the evidence and consider the options for introducing controls over new second homes and short-term holiday lets in the district.  Seeking to meet the housing needs of residents is an existing Council commitment and will be a priority for the new Local Plan.

Question 14

What regulations are in place for short term lets in the city of Bath? How could B&NES implement a citywide landlord licensing scheme that sets standards for rented properties and funds a bigger Private Housing inspection team?

Answer from Cllr Davies

The regulatory framework for dealing with the residential private rented sector is complex.  However, it does include some scope for the licensing of the private rented sector and which has been adopted by the Council.  The Council therefore already requires all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the city, and larger HMOs outside of the city, to be licensed.  The licensing fee is ring-fenced to fund the operation of the scheme.  However, this licensing scheme will expire at the end of next year and the Council will be reviewing future options, including further licensing models.

Question 15

The continued roll out and testing of VOI Scooters in the WECA region is a great benefit to many residents. However, as a councillor on the east of Bath this extension has failed to address the real dangers on the London Road due to the lack of cycle/scooter infrastructure and the high numbers of accidents already taking place for cyclists.  The VOI scooters have been programmed not to work on the canal and nor can a resident use them to get to the University using North Road. This is therefore making journey purposely long and putting many residents in danger on a road already littered with signs on the cycle infrastructure due to the works on Cleveland Bridge.

Please can you let me know:

Was the University included in part of the discussions about the route to the campus at Claverton?

Why has North Road been avoided?  This seriously impacts many on the east of Bath and fails to deliver sustainable connectivity?

There appears to be no connection between Batheaston and Bathampton – why?

Will the Canal and River Trust be asked for permission to use the canal route?

Answer from Cllr Warren

The Voi e-scooter trial is being undertaken by WECA, and WECA will be able to respond to issues pertaining to the trial.

Question 16

Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi-Debrah died on 15 February 2013 at the age of nine as a result of asthma contributed to by exposure to excessive air pollution in London. She was a bright, talented girl who loved sports, music and reading. Ella was the first person in England to have air pollution named as a cause of death by a coroner, but every year tens of thousands of people around the UK are killed by air pollution. In his report, the coroner urged the government to take action to bring air quality up to minimum World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

In a recent press release on air pollution in Bath (16th June 2022) it states:

“The report notes that while air quality across the city has improved – with a clear decreasing trend in NO2 concentrations across all 123 monitoring sites – three sites within the zone continue to exceed the EU and UK limit value of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air (μg/m3).

These sites at Walcot Parade, Wells Road and Dorchester Street, remain a concern for the council and will be carefully monitored. In 2019, 11 monitoring sites in Bath exceeded the limit value”

Please can you give full pollution details of the data for the sites at Walcot Parade, Wells Road and Dorchester Street and how they differ from the World Health Organisation air quality standards?

What is the time scale left for the Council to be compliant in the shortest time possible? Will the Council be fined?

Answer from Cllr Warren

Full pollution details of the data for the sites at Walcot Parade, Wells Road and Dorchester Street can be found in the 2022 Air Quality Annual Status Report for which can be found at this link: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/sites/default/files/sitedocuments/Environment/Pollution/final_asr_bnes_2022.pdf

The World Health Organisation published revised air quality guidelines in 2021 where they recommended that the air quality guideline level for nitrogen dioxide is reduced to 10 μg/m3;  this guideline level remains a recommendation and is not currently incorporated in UK legislation.

The Council was required to achieved compliance with the Ministerial Directions in the shortest time possible and by 2021 at the latest.

The question of whether the Council should be fined is a matter for the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU).  However, the Cabinet Report makes reference to recent comments from JAQU where ‘JAQU understands that local monitoring shows that Bath is making good progress towards achieving legal compliance for Nitrogen Dioxide levels’.

Question 17

The B&NES Liberal Democrats brought a motion to the March 2022 council meeting titled “Cleaning up our rivers”.

Please can you let me know what work is the cabinet currently pursuing to reduce the cumulative pressure from development on our water and sewage systems?

Have you asked the Chair of the Climate Emergency and Sustainability Policy, Development and Scrutiny Panel, Cllr Karen Walker to invite the Chief

Executives of Wessex Water and Bristol Water plus senior representatives from the Environment Agency and Natural England to attend a meeting to answer questions on the current levels of sewage discharge?

Have you asked from this date onwards, in all planning consultation responses for major developments, to clarify which treatment works will be managing the sewage; whether it has the information available to assess the impact on the number or duration of sewage discharges into local rivers or seas, and if it does have this information to share it (noting that this can only be requested not required)?

Answer from Cllr Wood

We are in the process of setting up a scrutiny inquiry day to examine our new responsibilities within the Environment Act 2021 and also following the Lib Dem Full Council Motion March 24th 2022 ‘Cleaning up our Rivers’ –   

We are working closely with Wessex Water and Bristol Water through the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership and are working with them both on their next investment plans for the period 2025-30 to help improve the water quality of our rivers

Planning applications don’t take a blanket approach as it wouldn’t be relevant to all major applications, but we consult our Drainage colleagues and/or the Environment Agency in cases where there are some planning implications for discharge into any watercourse or drainage matters.

Question 18

In May 2022, I wrote to Dan Norris, Mayor of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) about my concerns over Cleveland Bridge and I received the following email from Dan Norris.

“The original funding bid for the Cleveland Bridge works, submitted by Bath and North East Somerset Council, can be found here: https://travelwest.info/app/uploads/2020/05/Local-Highways-Maintenance-Challenge-Fund-LHMCF-02-Cleveland-Bridge-Application-Form-FINAL.pdf

Based on this funding bid, the works to Cleveland Bridge received a £3.5million grant from the Department for Transport allocated in February 2020. Details regarding this funding award is found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/869349/challenge-fund-schemes.csv/preview

As indicated in the funding bid, the Department for Transport provided the grant funding on the basis that the local authority would meet any additional costs over and above the requested amount.

The Department for Transport (DfT) also provides funding for road maintenance through the Maintenance Block grant (MB) which is directly allocated to the West of England Combined Authority for road maintenance. The allocation for Bath and North East Somerset Council was £5,915,274 in 2021/22 and for 2022/23, £6,997,343 for road maintenance activities. This includes for bridges and structures, potholes and road resurfacing works. The allocations provided are detailed within the following report, that was provided to the West of England Combined Authority Committee on the 28th January 2022: https://westofengland-ca.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s3292/15b%20-%20CRSTS%20report.pdf

As the Maintenance Block funding is transferred each year to the local authorities for the maintenance of their local road network, Bath and North East Somerset Council will of course be responsible for local maintenance priorities on their local road network including the allocation of this funding into maintenance priorities, and it is therefore for Bath and North East Somerset Council and local councillors, to prioritise this spending on road maintenance, bridges and structures. If additional funding was required for the Cleveland Bridge works, then the maintenance block funding allocation provided could be utilised to undertake the works.

Regarding the issue of lorries utilising the bridge, Bath and North East Somerset Council, as the Local Highway Authority, can of course determine any traffic restrictions on the bridge through the traffic regulation order (TRO) process. This can include weight limits on bridges if required. Any decision regarding weight limits on the bridge would of course be subject to a consultation process, with the final decision being made by the Local Highway Authority.”

As Cleveland Bridge now has no known date for being fully reopened how much will the overspend on Cleveland Bridge be?

Answer from Cllr Rigby

The council announced in April that traffic management will remain as investigations continue into how to solve the complex engineering issues discovered in January during the agreed repairs to the Grade II* listed structure. The corrosion is a safety critical issue and was revealed when sections of concrete were removed from the hanger bars which support the main trusses of the bridge. The bars are essential to maintaining its structural integrity but are not commonly found in bridges. The engineering solution is proving a technical challenge as any solution will be bespoke and there are few experts in this historic methodology. We will be providing a fuller update regarding the hanger bars in the coming weeks. The extensive repairs will be assisted by a £3.5m grant from the Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund, and by the Department ForTransport’s headroom uplift for maintenance. The forecast cost will be updated once the hanger bar repairs options are agreed.

Question 19

As part of the team that helps to organise Kidical Mass in Bath, I am aware that Saskia Heijltjes has written to the Council on several occasions asking for Council support at the end of the bike rides from the Council’s Travel Road Show Team.

I have also reached out for support to WECA’s Travel Road Show Team asking for support only to be told that all support for this should come from B&NES Council.

It appears to me that there are a enormous number of consultations and policies to support active travel, yet when a community action group supporting this activity, which is a core council strategy, approaches B&NES, the Council has very little, if any resources to offer. This is really not good enough in light of the Climate Emergency.

To date we have still not received any response of the support that B&NES can offer.

Please can you let us know why?

Answer from Cllr Warren

Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to provide these services on the 17th July. However, we are working with Saskia to provide a Dr Bike booking on the 24th September, a full day before the next Kidical Mass, and to support the Kidical Mass with Roadshow representatives on the 25th.  As the Roadshow team are funded by the DfT Capability Fund which ends September 30th, we are unable to confirm bookings after for May until the DfT announces a replacement funding stream.

Question 20

Are you aware as the Co-Chair of the Health and Wellbeing board, that this board is not filmed or made available to all residents on the Council’s YouTube channel? Please can you find out why the Health and Wellbeing board is the only board not accessible to the residents in Bath and North East Somerset via the variety of on-line connectivity options available to the Council?

Answer from Cllr Romero

When webcasting meetings began the small team only had the staffing and technology resources available to webcast a limited number of selective Council meetings including Cabinet, Council, Scrutiny and Planning. This did not include any partnership meetings such as the Health & Wellbeing Board. I will ask the team whether they can review the current arrangements and whether it would be possible to webcast the Health & Wellbeing Board meetings in the future.

Question 21

Presently residents who take on a B&NES allotment receive a letter of eviction for not maintaining their plot as set out in the B&NES allotment policy.  In many cases this leads to many residents instantly giving up on their allotment plot and returning the plot often in the state that they found it, in poor condition.  This cycle then repeats itself. Many residents have complained that they feel that they are being unfairly treated and the letter sent, sends a message of overwhelming failure and that the Council appears uncaring. 

As a ward Councillor I have repeatedly heard on the doorstep from residents about the issue of eviction from allotments and those, in some cases with mental health issues, are reluctant to sign up for an allotment due to the perceived view that they will be evicted. Therefore, the benefits of the allotments are lost for many residents that would value t the health and wellbeing outcomes that allotments offer.

Please can you ask the appropriate officers to examine allotment policy, particularly with reference to eviction letters?

Answer from Cllr Wood

Since the onset of the Covid pandemic there has been a nationwide increase in the demand for allotment plots and this demand has not abated. The average waiting time for an allotment plot has doubled to two years and is greater than that on some sites. Currently, there are circa 900 applicants waiting for a plot on the Council waiting list. It is important therefore, that allotment sites are actively managed, and that underutilised and unused plots are made available to waiting applicants.

To this effect, Council allotment sites are inspected 3 times each during the growing season. Plots are inspected to ensure that they are being adequately cultivated by the tenants. Plots deemed to be not adequately cultivated are sent a Notice giving the tenant 4 weeks to remedy the issues. Tenants may also be sent a notice for other reasons, commonly rubbish or sapling removal. Tenants are required to have 75% of their plot cultivated. 

New tenants are exempt from inspection for the first 3 months of their tenancy and are expected to have cultivated around 25% of the plot after the 1st 3 months. Typically, the allotments officer will take a reasoned approach to new tenants, provided that an effort has been to madeto start cultivating the plot after the 1st three months. Consideration is given to those unable to tend to their plots due to illness, or bereavement. 

The allotments officer is open to contact from tenants by phone or email to discuss in detail the requirements of the notice sent to them, to answer any of their questions and listen to any of their concerns.

Question 22

The plans for a ramp to replace the steps from the canal into Sydney Gardens is it believed were dropped due to budget issues. The new entrance from Beckford Road presently has no drop kerbs so is inaccessible to people on wheels coming from the canal and crossing the road. 

Please can you give full details of how the with accessibility issues and using wheels will be able to access Sydney Gardens other than making a long detour to the front of the park?

Answer from Cllr Warren

The pedestrians crossing at the Sydney Rd / Beckford Rd / Warminster Rd signalised junction provides a safer option to cross the A36 and access the park, we will keep under review the need for any further provision.

Question 23

Please can you give a full update on the Citizen’s Panel that you organised to deliberate the Active Travel measures for North Road?

Answer from Cllr Warren

Britain Thinks the Consultants appointed by the Council to undertake the Citizen’s Panel on active travel have now completed the project. The draft Report was circulated to the Cabinet Members Cllr Manda Rigby and myself on Monday the 11th of July 2022. We are now in the process of examining the report with Bath University who assisted us in sponsoring the panel. We will shortly be looking to make the report available to the Council and the general public. The “call for evidence” as part of the information gathering to assist the panel in their deliberations received over 750 responses and we are aware that there will considerableinterest in their findings.

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