Questions from Cllr Joanna Wright and Green Party Campaigners to B&NES Cabinet September 2022

1. QUESTION from Joanna Wright

In 2021 I asked the Council about the ongoing issue of contaminated drinking water at the spring on the canal towpath near Kensington Meadows. It transpires that in 2012 a B&NES Council Public Protection Officer informed the Canal and River Trust (CRT) of the ongoing issue of contaminated water, at this spring. In 2021 a further sample was taken from this source by B&NES which shows that the presence of coliform bacteria, indicating faecal contamination and the likely presence of other pathogenic bacteria, is in this water. It would appear that the Canal and River Trust are responsible for this spring as it sits on their land and have called in Wessex Water to prevent the spring from being accessed and B&NES are responsible for the public health of this water source. The community along the canal requires fresh drinking water daily. It is a basic human right to have clean water. What measures has B&NES put in place to work with the CRT and Wessex Water to make sure this water is fit to be drunk?

ANSWER from CLLR Dave Woods and Cllr Dine Romero

The ‘supply’ in question is not a supply as such and has never been designated as a drinking water supply. It has been created by unknown person/s by utilising a disused pipe which has been placed in the ground to tap into groundwater on private land beyond the boundary of the CRT’s land. 

The CRT does not have an obligation to provide a drinking water supply to the transient population which moors temporarily at this location. The moorings are intended to be used by boaters for a maximum of two weeks, after which time they are required to move on. The CRT has noted the difficulties frequently encountered in ensuring boaters comply with the two-week limit and feel that the provision of a drinking water supply at this location would only make matters worse. 

In any event, it would not be possible to create a potable private spring supply at this location without significant practical and legal intervention entailing considerable expense. Provision of mains water at this location would encounter similar difficulties. The CRT does provide fresh drinking water at alternative locations along the canal, one of which is within a reasonable proximity to Follyfoot Bridge.

It is understood however that some individuals still choose to utilise this ‘supply’ for drinking, washing dishes etc. despite the risk. To enable individuals to make an informed choice, at the request of the council, signage was erected by the CRT informing consumers that the water does not come from a drinking water supply. This signage was removed and disposed of by unknown person/s within a few hours. Subsequently, Wessex Water attempted to bury the pipe which they believe to be one of their disused assets, but this too has been vandalised and the water is again able to be collected.

The council is now working with the CRT and Wessex Water to put in place robust signage to ensure individuals can make informed choices as to if or how they use the water.

2. QUESTION from Joanna Wright

In my questions to B&NES Cabinet in May 2022, I asked the following question and received the following response.

“In the press statement on the 14th April 2022, you stated that:

Uncertainty about the future course of the pandemic and the impact of high inflation may well influence future trends” However, in full Council in February when you set the Council’s annual budget you stated that inflation would be set at 2% and were derogatory of the remarks made by Councillors who questioned the inflation rate set by the council. As the UK inflation rate is presently at 7% how will the Council be resetting the budgets for the coming year?

ANSWER FROM Cllr Richard Samuel

To give Councillors assurance that the Council has recognised inflationary risk in its budget, provision has been made in addition to the 2% (£2.4m) across all major contracts; inflationary contingencies have been included in recognition of inflationary budget pressures across areas including: Energy contracts, Home to School Transport and Social Care, these total £4.5m in recurrent revenue funding (included in Annex 2(ii) of the budget papers). In total this allocates 5.5% revenue budget uplift across Council contracts, at the time of setting the budget the December national inflation rate was 5.4%, the Cabinet is satisfied that appropriate provisions have been made giving a robust budget for 2022/23.”

As inflation is now looking to grow to 18% what actions will you be taking to support residents and the Council on this issue?

ANSWER From Cllr Tom Davies

We are aware of the rising financial pressure that has come with the inflationary impact on the cost of living, as a result we are working closely with our partner organisations to ensure we can support our residents through the winter period. Those who face financial hardship should seek advice and support from the B&NES Community Hub https://communitywellbeinghub.co.uk/alongside the Council’s Welfare Support Service https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/apply-welfare-support. The published inflation rate up to July 2022 was 10.1% with the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee forecasting a peak in Oct at 13%. In terms of the impact on Council services, active steps are being put in place enable the Council to manage rising costs and continue to operate within its policy and budget framework and continue in providing essential services to our residents, if inflation continues to rise at these levels government support will be required to prevent the need to materially reduce or stop providing Council services.

3. Question from Joanna Wright

As we are clearly feeling the effects of the Climate Emergency this summer and the Council is working to deliver a “Journey to Net Zero”, it is clear that all efforts to deliver safe cycling is paramount to contributing to sustainable transport. There is a shared walking and cycle path, on the pavement from Saltford to Keynsham, which is clearly marked and was delivered by B&NES Council many years ago. In recent social media, the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, Communities and Culture was concerned about the use of pavements by cyclists. However, often children particularly have very few options to cycle safely and the Council has by choice installed shared walking and cycling infrastructure over many years for people to use. How will B&NES Council work to ensure that positive language is used around cyclists and the cycling infrastructure it has delivered on pavements so that cyclists of all ages and abilities are not harassed in the physical and virtual world? How are B&NES advertising these shared paths?

ANSWER FROM Cllr Sarah Warren and Cllr Dine Romero

I support Councillor Wright’s suggestion that we need to use positive language when referring to cycling and the interaction between people on bicycles and pedestrians.  In all our publicity material we aim to promote cycling as a normal activity of everyday life, for adults and children alike, and not as a sport or specialist activity, which can create some resentment.

Whilst we are striving to provide separate infrastructure for both pedestrians and cyclists, in many cases this is not possible due to width constraints.  In cases where pedestrians and cycles share space, we will use signage to inform people on bicycles that they need to be respectful of people walking, by reducing their speed and not causing any anxiety.

4. Question from Edmund Canon

I am a BANES resident and received a phone call from a survey company, which I think was IPSOS-Mori, asking questions about the Bath Clean Air Zone. During the survey I was asked an ambiguous question about what I thought of the CAZ: while one could say that one was happy with the policy, if one said that one was unhappy then it was impossible to say whether one thought that the policy was too strict (do not want a CAZ) or too soft (want CAZ to apply to private cars). The results of the survey are likely to be meaningless or open to misinterpretation.

Was this survey paid for by BANES, how much did it cost and what consultation was there with IPSOS-Mori over the questions?

How did the council intend to use the results and how will it do so now that we know the results will be meaningless? (Is it too late to change the survey design?)

ANSWER FROM Cllr Sarah Warren

Both surveys were conducted by Ipsos UK as part of a wider evaluation programme being conducted with the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU), evaluating the implementation of local nitrogen dioxide reduction plans across England.  JAQU is a collaborative unit involving the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Transport.  The evaluation programme is funded directly by JAQU.

The surveys are carried out independently from the Council and apart from factual clarification, the Council is not involved with survey design. 

The Council has contacted IPSOS UK in response to this question and they have provided the following feedback:

Please could you thank this person for getting in touch about the survey and raising their concern, and assure them in the first instance that this was not a case of treating those who support or oppose the CAZ differently. 

Unfortunately, due to the operational constraints of running a time sensitive survey, we were not able to collect follow up information about rationale from either those who support or oppose the CAZ. The survey which the member of the public took part follows on from a baseline survey that was conducted before the CAZ was introduced, it was designed to collect only high-level information about levels of support/opposition and travel behaviours, allowing us to assess whether these have changed over time. The primary focus of our research is to help us assess the effectiveness of the CAZ, and the purpose of the support/opposition question is specifically to help us understand whether low levels of support, regardless of reason, are associated with low levels of effectiveness (i.e. whether the CAZ has actually reduced air pollution). This will help to inform next steps around how to increase the effectiveness of the B&NES Local Plan.

That said, the survey is just one part of the wider research project evaluating the Bath CAZ, and other tools have been designed to provide greater insight into the reasons for people’s support or opposition alongside it. These include in-depth interviews designed to capture the nuances of opinion suggested by the member of the public’s question, and our intention is that findings from these interviews will be used to contextualise the survey results when they are reported. Please pass on to the member of the public however that we will consider whether to include a follow up question to address their concern in future CAZ related surveys.”

5. Question from Barbara Gordon

In a recent press release by B&NES Council on Moving Traffic Restrictions, you list five locations that are being trialled in B&NES. How were these five locations selected?

Answer from Cllr Manda Rigby

The five locations were identified following an assessment process.  Potential locations from across the council’s area, and covering a range of different moving traffic restrictions, were assessed against a number of factors such as the impact of contraventions on public transport and the safety of vulnerable pedestrians and road users; the number of contraventions that occurred; and the complexity of the restriction. A public consultation was undertaken prior to confirmation of the site selection. 

Complexity of the restrictions was considered to reflect the fact that these enforcement powers are new to councils outside London and Wales.  Their use at these locations ensures we can more effectively monitor the implementation and ongoing use of enforcement with ANPR cameras to develop best practice processes for use in their deployment at other locations.

Whilst we recognise that there will be other locations where existing moving traffic restrictions may also benefit from further evaluation and possible future enforcement our priority was to focus on locations that allowed the Council to meet the government’s tranche 1 deadline (20th May 2022) in applying for the powers. The powers have been confirmed by Government, meaning future locations will be subject to public consultation but will not require further Government approval.

6. Question from Barbara Gordon

Please can you give full details of the latest pollution figures on the London Road with regards to the Clean Air Zone?

Answer from Cllr Sarah Warren

The table below contains the data relating to nitrogen dioxide levels at monitoring locations on London Road, showing those which are within the CAZ boundary and those which are outside.  

Levels at all monitoring locations have reduced in 2021 when compared with the last representative year of 2019.

All monitoring sites meet the Government’s air quality objective level of 40 µg/m3 except DT224 (Walcot Parade 2) which although above the objective, has reduced significantly from the 2019 concentration of 55 µg/m3.  This location, together with Walcot Parade and Anglo Terrace façade, have been particularly affected by the temporary changes in traffic flows resulting from the closure of Cleveland Bridge throughout 2021.

Monitoring locationRef. No.Within CAZ boundary?2019 confirmed result (µg m3)2021 confirmed result (µg m3)change (µg m3)
LambridgeDT055No3628-8
Walcot TerraceDT052No3625-11
Co-located with AURN analyserDT226No3227-5
Anglo Terrace façadeDT222Yes4938-9
Canton PlaceDT223Yes3726-11
Walcot ParadeDT198Yes4938-11
Walcot Parade 2DT224Yes5543-12
Cleveland TerraceDT225Yes3732-5
Between Thomas Street/Snow HillDT172Yes4831-17

An interactive map showing these locations can be found at:

https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/environment/pollution-noise-nuisance/air-quality/air-quality-data-long-term

The air quality monitoring data collected and analysed in 2021 can be found in the Annual Status Report, here: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/sites/default/files/sitedocuments/Environment/Pollution/final_asr_bnes_2022.pdf

This report has been peer reviewed by the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Further information about the performance of the CAZ can be found at this webpage: 

https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/policy-and-documents-library/baths-clean-air-zone-monitoring-reports

7. Question from Barbara Gordon

At May’s 2022 Cabinet, a question was put to you about a planning application, with regard to a request that was made by the Council to a landowner to plant 80 trees due to the removal of trees felled in the planning request. It was clear at the time that this planting request from the Council had yet to be acted upon. The Council have registered this as an enforcement case. Can you please give the time frame for investigations and how enforcements will be put in place by the Council?

ANSWER from Cllr Tim Ball

This matter was investigated by the enforcement team and as there was no identified breach of planning control, the case was closed. The landowner voluntarily undertook to plant c.80 trees but the Council does not have the power to enforce him to do so. No further enforcement action may be taken in this instance. (NB application 20/03666/TCA relates to a tree works notice which is unrelated to the landowner’s proposed planting of trees). 

8. Question from Saskia Heijltjes

As the Council are the Highway Authority and also have a duty of care of all residents, I am sure you would agree that Road Safety is paramount for all road users. It has recently come to my attention that there have been 52 accidents in 3 years on a 1.07-mile stretch of the London Road, Bath. It would appear that the police records cannot identify accident locations more specifically than the London Road. Further the 52 accidents in 3 years are only the ones reported to the Police and many go unreported due to lack of full information that those involved in the accident have obtained eg full names. How will BANES raise the issue of data collection with the Avon and Somerset Constabulary? How will B&NES as the Highway Authority work to deliver a public highway that is safe for all users?

Answer from Cllr Manda Rigby

The Council analyses personal injury collision data on an ongoing basis to establish whether engineering interventions are required. 

A signing and lining scheme to improve safety of people cycling is being developed for the London Road junction with Morrisons car park following the data analysis. 

Officers work closely with Avon & Somerset Police regarding the collection of data, enforcement and other road safety issues. The police are currently in the process of changing data collection software that will improve our service, but if personal injury collisions are not reported to the police, we are unable to collect it via the “STATS19” data sets. However, we will continue to look for additional sources of data to help reduce personal injury collisions to all road users.

9. Question from Saskia Heijltjes

As the Council are the Highway Authority and also have a duty of care of all residents, I am sure you would agree that Road Safety is paramount for all road users. It has recently come to my attention that there have been 52 accidents in 3 years on a 1.07-mile stretch of the London Road, Bath

BANES is responsible for the CCTV camera data collection at the Morrison’s junction and elsewhere along the London Road (if there are any further cameras on the London Road?) which is essential for prosecutions and holding people to account for injuries caused. Can the Council explain why often these cameras are not turned on, or the information available is limited so that those injured do not have any footage of the accidents caused?

Answer from Cllr Manda Rigby

B&NES has a network of traffic cameras, the primary purpose of which is for monitoring traffic flow, particularly at signalised junctions and for making adjustments to Bath’s urban traffic control system where needed, according to traffic conditions. These traffic cameras, in common with those used by other local authorities, are not intended to capture evidence for enforcing traffic restrictions or poor driver behaviour. However, if the police notify the Council of an incident and it was captured on the camera, we provide the footage to them.

Most of these cameras have a pan, tilt and zoom function which means they are not always facing in the same direction all the time and therefore even if a collision occurs at a junction where a camera is sited, the camera may not necessarily capture the incident. The camera at the Morrisons junction is working.

10. Question from Saskia Heiltjes

B&NES Council are organising a Climate and Biodiversity Festival from the 24th September to the 2nd October 2022 and have reached out to local communities for their ideas about festival activities to encourage all sections of society to go green. Kidical Mass were listed on this Festival register, to hold a cycling event in Weston to encourage people of all ages and abilities to cycle. The Council have now decided to remove Kidical Mass, a family-friendly cycling event from this Festival line up. Who made this decision and why have a group of people calling for safer streets been asked not to be part of the Climate and Biodiversity Festival?

Answer from Cllr Sarah Warren

On reviewing the proposal, it was found that Kidical Mass bike rides are currently operated under registration with Avon & Somerset police under the category of ‘Protests and Marches’. As such the event proposed does not hold the appropriate licence for inclusion in the festival programme this month. The Council is keen to support inclusive cycling for all and would welcome a conversation with Kidical Mass about how we can support future community cycling events.

11. Question from Matt Cooper

The on-going issue of land clearance before a planning application put forward is a great concern to many residents.  Residents in Lambridge are aware of a property in which the owners have cleared a site, presumably for development and no ecological survey has been put in place to give consideration to the impact these possible plans would have, as the site has already been cleared.  B&NES Council have declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency. What actions is the Council taking or working towards to ensure that wilful removal of habitat is accessed and penalised in the planning process?

Answer from Cllr Tim Ball

It is not an offence under planning legislation to clear land prior to submitting a planning application and consent is not required from the Council to undertake land clearance unless the clearance itself involves engineering works or demolition. The Council cannot stop landowners clearing sites prior to submitting an application. However if there is a concern that there may have been harm to wildlife or ecology, this may be an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 which would be a matter for the Police to investigate. A report to the police can be made online via https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/wildlife-crime/ or by calling 101. Any wilful removal of habitat contrary to a planning permission needs to be addressed to the planning enforcement team to investigate.

12. Question from Matt Cooper

Many residents are concerned about the ability to charge EV cars near to their homes, especially in areas where residents only have on street parking. Many local authorities have put in EV lampposts to allow for EV charging. Lamppost charging is a tried and tested technology with over 6,000 lamppost chargers currently operating in the UK.

When will B&NES deliver lamppost charging?

Answer from Cllr Sarah Warren

EV charging infrastructure is a developing area of technology, with rapid innovation and growth, and eager investors. We are collaborating with the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and the other West of England councils to investigate all available options for new EV charge point builds. A wide variety of solutions are used in different contexts to address different technological and social needs.  

While on-street charging using existing lampposts has seen wide adoption, multiple factors influence the applicability of lamppost chargers to provide viable on-street charging facilities:

• There has been a general national approach to move lampposts to the back of pavements, away from the kerb, to reduce safety risks and improve accessibility.

• Lampposts positioned at the back of pavements are unsuitable for direct mounting of sockets, as trailing cables will then present a very real trip hazard.

• Lampposts have a limited power supply, hence integral charging sockets offer a very slow charge rate, only suitable for long vehicle dwell times.

• Some lamppost electrical supply infrastructure is unable to provide enough supplementary energy to power lamppost chargers.

Therefore, there will only be some contexts in which lamppost chargers provide a suitable on-street charger solution. 

To date B&NES has focused on creating public EV charging in car parks, partnering with the other West of England councils in creating the Revive charging network. Through Revive we have provided 22 new charging bays across 6 sites, offering a mix of fast 22kW charging and rapid 50kW charging. A further 6 bays at 2 more sites will be operational this year. Over the next three years we will use £1 million of WECA’s Green Recovery Fund to create more new EV charging infrastructure. Next year we will bid for further funding from the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV). We are also in discussions with commercial charge point operators to deliver charging facilities across our area on a concessionary basis.  Where lamppost charging is the most applicable option it will make up part of any on-street charging provision.

13. Question from Matt Cooper

It is often difficult for motorists to see cyclists or e-scooter users due to the long grass, which has been left in place for re-wilding and this long grass could result in traffic accidents. What joined up thinking is taking place at the Council to deal with the vital need for re-wilding with the reality of tall grass obscuring the view of vehicles of all types entering and exiting junctions?

Answer from Cllr Dave Woods

Teams in highways & parks work closely together to ensure that safety splays are kept as clear as possible to ensure visibility at junctions. Highways inspectors are inspecting our roads for safety issues every day.   Any areas of particular concern that need urgent attention can be reported on the website at https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/report-it

14. Question from Grace Wiltshire

Please can you list the groups of residents that you have proactively involved in transport consultations that are listed in the Council’s “ Youth and Seldom Heard “ groups?

Answer from Cllr Sarah Warren and Cllr Dine Romero

Answer to be received

15. Question from Grace Wiltshire

BANES Council were recently responsible for paying to residents £150 Energy Rebate from the Government, to all households in the Council Tax Bands A to D. It is clear that some residents and the poorest, were last to receive this rebate. Have all recipients of this rebate now received this funding? If not, how many more are still to be paid?

Answer from Cllr Tom Davies

As at 31 August 2022, the council had made 51,007 payments, beginning with those on Council Tax Support (low income households) and paying Council Tax by Direct Debit, followed by all other households paying by Direct Debit. 

In line with government guidance, those who pay Council Tax by other means would be able to supply bank details solely for receiving the payment of £150, once verification was undertaken. As at 31 August 2022, we had received bank details for 8,715 residents and had made 7,535 payments. The remainder are having final pre-payment checks and should be processed for payment by Friday 9 September 2022. 

For any eligible resident who has not responded to our communications, B&NES will credit their Council Tax account by the schemes closure date of 30 September 2022, thus ensuring no one loses out. This enables us to pay the £150 should the resident request at a later date, or will reduce next year’s Council Tax.

16. Question from Grace Wiltshire

The 23rd August is recognised as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London and Swansea are presently involved in a UK-wide art trail, organised by the World Reimagined to explore the impact of the slave trade and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Why is Bath not taking part in this important trail that seeks to address understanding, conversations and action on slave history?

Answer from Cllr Dine Romero

Whilst not involved in the specific project event mentioned in the question, the Council continues to be involved in events and projects that highlight local links to the transatlantic slave trade, to mark the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.   

As part of the 2022 Bathscape Walking Festival (of which B&NES Council is a partner) on Sat 24th September there is an opportunity for people to ‘Walk Bath’s uncomfortable past’.  The walk offers insight into how transatlantic slavery contributed to the splendours of 18th century Bath. See https://www.bathscape.co.uk/event/walk-baths-uncomfortable-past/

Earlier this year, the Bath & Colonialism Archive Project’s website (bathandcolonialism.org) was launched.  It contains information on Bath’s links to the transatlantic slave trade. The Bath Record Office of B&NES Council, along with Bath Abbey and Bath Preservation Trust have worked together on this important project.

To mark the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition last year, the B&NES Race panel took part in a ‘walking conversation’ around Bath about the city’s legacy of slavery, hosted by artist Richard White. The B&NES Race Panel, chaired by Councillor Dine Romero, and made up of representatives from our local community, continues to focus on how we acknowledge and highlight Bath’s links with the international slave trade. 

17. Question from Sam Ross

In a recent press release by B&NES Council on Cleveland Pools, residents were informed that the Council owns this property and the Council have agreed a grant of £250,000 to help it be restored. When Cleveland Pools are restored will residents in B&NES be able to get a discount on the use of these facilities?

Answer from Cllr Kevin Guy

The land and property is leased to the Cleveland Pools Trust who are responsible for leading and implementing the restoration of the Pools to bring back into use, the Trust have recently appointed an operator to manage the facility once opened to the public. Decisions on resident discounts and customer concessions will need to be considered by the Board of Trustees as this is not a Council decision, however through the Council grant conditions there is a requirement for the Trust to consult with local residents and demonstrate that costs of entry are kept at affordable levels once operating costs and overheads are taken into account.

18. Question from Sam Ross

This is the time of year when many young people are returning to school and are finding that the public transport in place for them rarely arrives on time and often does not arrive at all.  The Council has a clear duty of care to young people and the present services in place often lead to young people becoming vulnerable and unable to get to school or back home.  What actions is the Council taking to work with the Metro Mayor to ensure that buses are in place to help school children get to and from school safely?

Answer from Cllr Sarah Warren and Cllr Dine Romero

Answer to be received

19. Question from Sam Ross

Many residents are concerned about fast moving traffic particularly in zones where there are 20mph restrictions.  How is the Council working with Avon and Somerset Constabulary to make sure that speed limits are enforced?

Answer from Cllr Cllr Manda Rigby

Answer to be received

20. Question from Chris Allsop

Many of us are genuinely fearful of the spiralling costs of heating and how we will manage to stay warm this winter. Other local Authorities are creating Warm Centres, so that local residents can find places of refuge that are free and heated during the coming winter months. What actions will the Council be taking to deliver spaces that are warm for residents this winter, especially for the vulnerable?

Answer from Cllr Dine Romero

Immediately following the unprecedented announcement on 26th August that the energy price cap is rising from £1,971 to £3,549 a year from October, the council and our partners came together with a pledge to do all they can to protect our local communities. 

Firstly, and most urgently, our message is “Help is Out there”. 

A wide range of agencies, third sector organisations and community groups – working under the umbrella of the Community Wellbeing Hub – have joined forces with Bath & North East Somerset Council and HCRG Care Group to help residents with money matters, bills, benefits, energy costs, food, housing, mental health support, jobs and skills, support for carers and other services.

The Community Wellbeing Hub provides a single telephone number 0300 247 0050 to access help from key local agencies, including Citizens Advice, Age UK and Bath Mind. The Hub has provided support – particularly to the most vulnerable – during the pandemic and provides links to a wide range of community groups and information about what services are available.

Many people are feeling the financial squeeze for the first time and simply don’t know where to turn. Hub staff are skilled in making sure that people get the right kind of help with whatever they may be facing, whether it’s difficulties paying bills, accessing benefits or needing some support for their mental health. I’d encourage anyone who is struggling and looking for support to contact the hub.”

We are also urging residents to seek help at an early stage if they are struggling, and Bath & North East Somerset Council has launched dedicated “Cost of Living Crisis” web pages. The Livewell “Money Matters” web pages also has contact details for a host of organisations and services providing support to help people manage their money

Secondly, we are mobilising council, partners and community resources to do our best to shield people, especially the most vulnerable, from this unprecedented crisis. Particularly as temperatures start falling, no one should have to choose between heating and eating. 

We have identified a number of council premises such as libraries that we can use for the Warm Centres referred to in the question, and we will work through the Community Wellbeing Hub as we did during the pandemic to link with community halls, parish councils and others to identify more. However, this will on its own not be enough. We will need to consider a range of other support relating to food, energy, and other support, in a range of community settings, and in people’s own homes. 

For example, we are looking at how we can use our Village Agents scheme, which has recently been extended into Combe Down and Foxhill, to ensure we get help to those who need it most. We will work closely with 3SG to make sure people get the help they need, building on our experience during the pandemic.  

Thirdly we are trying to look to the longer term, addressing the underlying inequalities the cost- of-living crisis is exposing. We are working very closely with the St John’s Foundation and other groups on this.

We are also of course doing our utmost to ensure that people’s homes can be kept warm though energy efficiency measures, including through the Energy@Home scheme and the new Bright Green Homes project, which is particularly for low-income households without gas heating.

The situation is clearly fast-moving, and the council will be monitoring very closely any announcements made by central government on energy bills and the cost of living.

21. Question from Chris Allsop

In recent documentation on a planning application that was given approval by B&NES Council, it was agreed permission was granted on the understanding that the developers would keep within strict conditions set out to protect the thoroughfare of Bailbrook Lane and the adjacent environment. It would appear that the lane has been damaged when the services were installed on the site and that displaced rubble and soil is now encroaching on the narrow roadway.

What investigations have B&NES Council taken on this matter? How will B&NES deal with this developer?

Answer from Cllr Tim Ball

It is not clear which planning application or which site this question relates to. Any breach of a planning permission, and its conditions, will need to be investigated by reporting it to Planning Enforcement. The resolution will depend on the particular circumstances of the breach. In this case it appears that utility providers may be involved rather than the council.

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