No Fracking Way

This new unbridled and unrestrained Conservative Government is not slow in showing its true colours. Recent announcements about fast tracking Fracking are simply horrendous. Coupled with the Conservative hatred and campaign against wind energy it shows clearly that they have no clue about clean energy.

And to blame the planning system and local government is simply outrageous. An application that generates the level of interest that a fracking licence does simply cannot be processed in 13 weeks. It is not delaying things to respond to legitimate concerns.

Our group leader has challenged our two Conservative MPs to speak out against their Government on this issue of such importance to Bath and NE Somerset.

B&NES Liberal Democrats
For immediate release: Wednesday, 19 August 2015
No Fracking in B&NES – Lib Dems
Liberal Democrats in B&NES have renewed their calls against fracking following recent government announcements that not only are new licences for fracking to be offered – including potentially around Bath – but that applications could be fast-tracked by the Secretary of State for Communities.
Councillor Dine Romero has written to the local MPs for Bath and North East Somerset calling on them to stand up for local communities and oppose fracking. In the open letter, which is attached, Councillor Romero reiterates local opposition to fracking both on principle and in relation to the threat to the hot springs.
Councillor Cherry Beath (Liberal Democrat, Combe Down) is the Liberal Democrat shadow for Homes and Planning. Cherry commented:
“Fracking in the vicinity of Bath is absolutely unthinkable and our local MPs must join with Councillors and residents in opposing this threat. Any damage to the hot springs could be catastrophic for the fabric of the city and the local economy.”
ENDS
Contact: 01225 477419
Note: please find attached the letter from Councillor Romero to Ben Howlett MP and Jacob Rees Mogg MP.

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Bath and North East Somerset Liberal Democrats Councillor Dine Romero Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Bath and North East Somerset Liberal Democrats By email

19 August 2015

Ben Howlett MP Jacob Rees Mogg MP

Dear Ben and Jacob,

Fracking licences

I am horrified by reports this week that your Government is planning to fast-track fracking planning applications and that licences could be offered in the future for sites around Bath.

Whilst we do not have any licences or applications at present it seems to me to be fundamentally flawed for central Government to be interfering in local affairs so dramatically. Any fracking application will generate a substantial amount of public interest and the volume of work involved makes it very difficult to process such an application within 13 weeks.

I am sure you are aware that local Councillors from all political parties have previously spoken out against fracking in our area due to concerns about the threat to the unique Bath hot springs, the environment generally and the hydrological environment across the area.

I urge you to speak out against your Government’s interference into local planning matters and to ensure that hard-won additional protections for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites are not eroded.

It is indeed a pity that whilst your Government is persecuting benign forms of renewable energy, such as land based wind power, it seems to be working hard to bring in fracking as quickly as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Dine Romero

cc. B&NES Councillors and the Bath Chronicle

 

NEXT BIKE – continuing success

City cycle hire scheme goes from strength to strength

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Nextbike in Bath cycle hire scheme has seen substantial growth since its introduction last year by the Liberal Democrats. It has proved a great success with residents and visitors alike. The success of this scheme is in marked contrast to the complete failure of a scheme put in place by the previous Conservative administration.

A key difference is that whereas the Tory scheme only had 4 stations The Next bike scene started with ‘stations’ located at nine key points around the city, the bikes have been ideal for people wishing to substitute the car for shorter journeys while also enabling visitors to get to Bath’s most popular attractions just a few minutes ride away. Since launch, over 7,000 journeys have been made by Nextbikes and the demand has been such that now three new stations are also being installed to boost the number of bikes available to 130.

I am delighted that the new administration is continuing with the good work they inherited from the Liberal Democrats. These three new stations were agreed before the elections and so I hope that yet more stations will be added to continue to grow the network especially by spreading it outside of the city of Bath.

Registration for Nextbike can be done via phone, mobile app or internet, and with hire charges from as low as £1 for 30 minutes, it’s a competitive alternative to the car or bus. For more information visit www.nextbike.co.uk.

Nextbike stations are installed at the following locations:

· Green Park Road
· Orange Grove
· Bath Spa railway station
· Sydney Place (Holburne Museum)
· Royal United Hospital
· Bath Spa University Newton St Loe campus (2 stations)
· Bath Spa University Sion Hill campus
· Charlotte Street car park
· Newbridge Marina/Caravan Park
· UNITE student apartments Lower Bristol Road
· Moorland Road
· Opening in the Autumn: Newbridge Park & Ride.

Council investment into Royal Victoria Park begins

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s plans to invest almost £500,000 in improvements to Bath’s Royal Victoria Park will get underway on January 19.

The park, which attracts many thousands of visitors every year, features Botanical Gardens, lakes, floral and historical features as well as one of the biggest children’s play areas in the South West.

Work to improve the play area starts next week, and will include installation of a new slide and tower unit replacing the triple slide. This is part of a total investment of £255,000 into 11 play parks across the area.

The work should be completed by the end of January; the play area will remain open, although there will be some disruption at times which the Council will aim to keep to a minimum.

Improvements to the public toilets in the pavilion building at the play area will also start on Monday. Eight new unisex cubicles, all with baby-changing facilities, are being installed, including two that are disability-compliant. Temporary toilets will be put in place until the new toilets are completed. The work is expected to be completed by Easter.

Alongside this, space is being created for a new café concession which will offer refreshments for adults and children, including healthy options from local and sustainable sources. The Council is currently advertising the three concession opportunities (café, children’s rides and ice cream van); details can be found on the Council’s website (http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/property/royal-victoria-park-play-area-concessions-opportunities)

CllrDavid Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “We’re very pleased to see these projects getting underway, and plan for them all to be ready for the spring. The Council is committed to improving facilities and the visitor experience for everyone who uses the park.”

A planning decision on the £300,000 refurbishment to modernise and improve the skate park at Royal Victoria Park is expected by the end of January.

Car Parking

The Bath and NE  Somerset Council aims to substantially increase jobs and support local businesses through the Bath City Riverside Enterprise Area, which is designated as a key zone for economic growth by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. To deliver the jobs requires an integrated approach to managing traffic flow in the city – including providing improved parking opportunities such as expanding long stay capacity at Park and Ride – enabling greater emphasis to be given to walking, cycling and bus services in the historic core and on key corridors. Reduction of city centre parking will not take place until alternatives are in place.

Key elements of the Getting Around Bath transport strategy include:

  • continuing the progress made in Bath to relocate long stay parking to Park and Ride sites
  • a more efficient use of scarce space in the centre
  • presenting opportunities to improve the walking environment.

 

The Council’s parking charges are cheaper than other car parks in the city centre. Based on usage of the car parks, the city can accommodate a temporary reduction of car parking spaces. This is mainly due to the fact that not all levels of the Avon Street multi-storey are fully used at all times. In the medium term, an additional 200 surface level car parking spaces will be re-introduced; offering better quality provision which is preferred by visitors to the city – figures indicate this will have more than twice the turnover than the current multi-storey. The impact of this is to deliver at least the same, or increased, total car parking capacity within the city whilst releasing land for the creation of a new central business district to strengthen the local economy, support local businesses and create jobs.

This year, 2014/15, the Council is investing £7.4million – a record amount – to improve carriageways, footways, highway structures, drainage and street lighting.

It is the Economy…

GDP figures

Quarterly growth of 0.5% puts the UK in pole position to be the fastest growing G7 economy in 2014.

Our economy is growing because we Liberal Democrats have anchored economic policy in the centre ground. In 2010 the last Labour government bequeathed the Country a bankrupt economy.

We’ve driven through a host of Lib Dem inspired measures including income tax cuts for millions of working people, cutting the deficit fairly, boosting apprenticeships and investing in regional and local projects to rebalance the economy.

Today’s figures represent solid progress, especially with many of our key markets still suffering from economic problems.

And here in B&NES the Lib Dem Council has adopted the same policy of investing in apprenticeships and driving forward economic regeneration in the digital and creative industries.

 

Walking and cycling is key to less congestion

Banes Council under my leadership continues to improve cycle and walking facilities around the area. Cycle improvement scheme is under way at the Globe roundabout and now a major pedestrian improvement is about to get under way in Bath City centr.

Work to start on pedestrian improvements in Bath City Centre

A project to improve life for pedestrians and make the centre of Bath more attractive will start on Monday 2 February when Bath & North East Somerset Council begins work to make Stall Street virtually traffic free during shopping hours. The Council wishes to create a safer and more attractive experience for residents, visitors and businesses here by improving the quality of the street.

A new traffic restriction will come into force between 10am and 6pm which will see all but essential vehicles banned from this area. Existing street clutter will be reduced and improvements made including a new level surface throughout, paved with natural stone materials in keeping with Bath’s historical surroundings.

The final result is a very balanced approach to revitalising the city centre to a standard that reflects its status as an international visitor destination and World Heritage Site, and reducing the amount of vehicles in the historic core and has been the outcome of much consultation.

The paving improvements in Lower Borough Walls and Stall Street will be built in phases throughout the duration of the work, which is anticipated to last 8 months.  To facilitate the first phase of the works, a temporary road closure from 10am to 6pm each day will be implemented at the entrance to Lower Borough Walls. A diversion route will be in place via a two-way system on Hot Bath Street, controlled by traffic signals.

For more information, please visit: www.bathnes.gov.uk/stallstreet.

Safety in the home is vital

Residents urged to back gas safety proposals

Bath & North East Somerset Council is urging residents to back a campaign which wants to give social landlords extra powers to make sure gas appliances in the properties they own are safe.

Gas Access is calling for the law to be changed so that social landlords, such as housing associations and local authorities, who are legally responsible for the upkeep and safety of gas appliances have the power to force entry to a property to ensure vital repairs can be made to faulty appliances.

It also wants an MOT-style safety check for gas appliances to ensure they are safe and fit for purpose and is calling on residents to back the campaign by visiting the Gas Access Campaign website.

At present although landlords have a legal duty to carry out regular checks to keep boilers and other gas appliances safe, they have no legal right to demand entry and it can take a legal process of up to four months to get to the stage where the landlord has free access to service a boiler.

Cllr Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), Leader of Council, said: “Landlords have a duty to make sure gas appliances are safe, but they are hampered somewhat by the law which does not allow them to gain entry to a property to repair a faulty or potentially lethal boiler.

“Bath & North East Somerset Council agrees with Gas Access that the law needs to be overhauled and reviewed so that landlords can fulfil their statutory duty in this area and protect residents from harm.

“Every year we hear of people dying somewhere in the United Kingdom from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty boiler, this proposal, coupled with annual health checks for gas appliances would go some way to increasing the safety of gas appliances in social housing across our district.”

The Gas Access campaign is led by the Home Group with the Association of Gas Safety Managers and CORGI Technical Services.

Second hand furniture sale

Bath & North East Somerset Council is organising a second hand furniture sale on Saturday February 7, at the former MoD building (next to the Recycling Centre) at Pixash Lane, Keynsham BS31 ITP.
It will take place between 10am and 12 noon, and there will be a variety of items on sale, all of which have been brought to the Council’s Recycling Centres by residents and are in good enough condition for re-use.
Items for sale include a piano, chests of drawers, bedside tables, dining room tables and chairs, three-piece suites, and much more.
Cllr David Dixon, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods (LibDem, Oldfield) said: “This is a great way of avoiding waste and saving money too. Instead of being recycled or sent to landfill, these items are first being offered to residents at bargain prices.”
The Council’s recycling roadshow will also be there, giving advice, answering queries and providing recycling containers for people who need them.
All furniture bought at the sale must be taken away on the day. Items cannot be reserved. Sales will be cash only and the income used to help fund running future sales and other recycling activities.
Find out more at www.bathnes.gov.uk/wasteservices or contact Council Connect 01225 30 40 41, council_connect@bathnes.co.uk
ends

Celebrating National Libraries Day

Bath & North East Somerset Council will be marking National Libraries Day on Saturday February 7. Local libraries will be running a Find the Book Character Treasure Hunt for children and a literary quiz for adults – sheets will be available at all local libraries. Library visitors will also be able to rent DVDs at half price, and reserve two items on the LibrariesWest catalogue free of charge. Those who borrow at least three physical items (books, CDs, audio books, and DVDs) or join online at www.librarieswest.org.uk will also be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win a Samsung Galaxy tablet, a £25 Amazon voucher and a range of bestselling books. Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Cllr David Dixon, said: “National Libraries Day is a great day to celebrate everything our libraries can offer. The Council runs eight libraries and a mobile service and also supports four community libraries.” Library members can benefit from a whole range of services including: · Borrowing books, CDs, audio books, and DVDs. · Online, there are free e-books and audio downloads as well as reference works, family history research material and more. · Support for children and families including Bookstart packs, baby rhyme times and loans to pre-school groups. · Information, advice, and courses for adult learners. · Community activities including reading groups, writing competitions and After Hours events. To find out more about the range of services provided by Bath & North East Somerset Council libraries visit http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/libraries-and-archives

Council supports sustainable transport

Bath & North East Somerset Council has provided a new charging point for electric vehicles in South Wansdyke Sports Centre car park in Midsomer Norton.

The charging unit enables two cars to charge at once, each using one of the 32amp/7kw fast charge sockets which provide a full recharge from empty in about four hours.

The unit has been funded through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund – a Government grant for a package of measures aimed at improving sustainable transport options. It is hoped the charge point will encourage electric vehicle use, lower emissions and improve air quality in the area.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Caroline Roberts (Lib Dem, Newbridge) said: “Electric vehicles are more environmentally-friendly than fossil fuel-based vehicles, so the Council is pleased to be supporting the use of them through electric charging points. This is a definite bonus for air quality and we hope people will make the best possible use of them.”

Further charge points will be installed at other locations including the Fox and Hounds car park in Keynsham and Newbridge Park and Ride in early 2015. Other public charge points already available across Bath and North East Somerset include Odd Down and Lansdown Park and Ride sites, Charlotte Street car park in Bath and the University of Bath.

The website www.sourcewest.info maps all of the publicly available charge points as well as providing information about electric vehicles. There is also a Source West smartphone app run by Charge Your Car that enables you to check charge point locations and availability while on the move.