The Liberal Democrat adminstration I lead at Bath and North East Somerset Council has been investing in new cycle and pedestrian links around the authority area for all three years of the Council and we will be continuing on for a fourth year. Connecting communities with new cycle and pedestrian links is good for health and good for our roads as it allows options for travel. the new bridge crosses the river at Batheaston car park and joins Bathampton on Mill Lane. One young student says it is saving him 20 minutes each way when he visits friends in Batheaston. Also lots of dog walkers are enjoying the new set of fields to walk in and exercise their dogs.
The Cycle Fest at Odd Down was a great success on Sat 12 July with over 2000 visitors during the day. The new cycle track implemented by the Liberal Democrat Council is prooving to be a great success with many different cycle clubs using it and indeed travel from other towns to make use of the facility. Our next stage of development up at this sports hub is a new pavillion and changing rooms and other facilities.
The cyclists have got together to form a great new cycle club for young cyclists called the scorpions and lots of youngsters came along for the challenge races and everyone got a ‘Tour de France’ style t-shirt.
Wellsway School hosts launch of Council’s Active Travel Project
The Active Travel Project, organised by Sustrans in partnership with the Council. Children and staff at Wellsway School took part in the launch of the Active Travel Project, run by Bath & North East Somerset Council, at lunchtime on Thursday February 21 Feb. The project aims to provide children with the skills and information to allow them to travel to school actively and sustainably by bike, foot or public transport on a regular basis.
As Leader of the Council I am keen to encourage young people to walk and cycle more. Active Travel to school is a great way for pupils to enjoy staying fit and healthy and research shows it allows them to become better students in the classroom. Bath & North East Somerset Council wants to encourage people of all ages to think about how they take their journeys, taking sustainable transport, like bus or bike, when they can.
The work is funded through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and being delivered by the West of England Partnership and involves several local Councils, including Bath & North East Somerset, working with the Department for Transport.
Surgical treatment for complex gynaecological cancers will continue to be provided at the RUH following new government guidance on “service reconfiguration” a B&NES Council panel heard yesterday. Liberal Democrat Councillors and Don Foster MP have been campaigning since 2007 against a proposal to move treatment to the United Hospital in Bristol.
Service changes are now subject to a ‘four tests’ process, brought in by the new government, rather than the ‘substantial variation’ test which was previously considered and invoked by Councillors on the Council’s health panel. Under the new tests it has been decided that the reconfiguration proposal should not be progressed.
The Liberal Democrats in Bath, working with other campaigners have long argued that there would be no benefit to patients in moving surgical treatment to Bristol and the plans were fiercely opposed by patient groups. The solution which has been adopted means that the staff at the RUH and the UHB will work together in a joint multi-disciplinary team. This should mean that patients get the best of both worlds – access to a larger and more specialised team whilst still being able to access treatment at their local hospital. There is a proven track record with this system already being used following a review of head and neck cancer services. Patients are extremely happy with the service.
The coalition government is putting an extra £162M into a nationwide health funding package. This means an extra £500,000 to be spent on front line health and care services in Bath and Northeast Somerset. This extra funding should help Bath’s residents leave hospital more quickly, get settled back at home with the support they need or prevent unnecessary hospital admissions.
The coalition government plans to introduce minimum prices for the sale of alcohol is “a small step in the right direction”.
The selling of alcohol at subsidised prices by supermarkets is fueling a binge drink culture. It is also in my view a key part of the problem that is driving pubs out of business as they cannot compete with supermarkets selling alcohol at a loss. Pubs are an important part of the social fabric but alcohol generates problems for communities and individuals. As I see it watching people it is clear that often they have ‘charged up’ at home before going out to the pubs and clubs to reduce the amount they spend.
Don Foster helped draft the coalition pledge to combat cheap drink promotions and end the selling of alcohol below cost price.
Commenting, Don Foster said, “Pocket money priced alcohol in our supermarkets has been a significant cause of the growing health and anti-social problems we face in Bath and around the country. With pubs closing at a record rate, with rising admissions to hospitals with alcohol related health problems and with growing alcohol related crime and disorder problems, urgent action was needed.
He continued, “However, these proposals, which ban the sale of drinks for less than the value of duty and VAT owed on them, should only be the start. They will end the worst cases of below cost selling, but more still needs to be done. Supermarkets and shops will still be able to sell drinks at a loss because there will be no legal obligation to cover the initial cost of buying in or producing them”
Good on you Don. Perhaps whilst you are looking for further measure you can prevent supermarkets from putting alcohol offers all round the shop and restrict the sale to one part of the store. Lets build a culture of responsible drinking so that everyone has a good night out or in as the choice takes them and which enables more of our pubs to make a living and provide a service to the comunity.
Over the last few weeks I have joined the lobbying of David Heath MP to take on as his private members bill the challenge of tackling fuel poverty. This is a serious issues for many families on low income in this country and that fact that it goes on year after year is a shame on the Government. Sticking plaster cash handouts are not the long term answer. We need a concerted attack on the way energy is charged and on how we improve the insulation and fuel efficiency of our current housing stock.
I was delighted that David took up the challenge and I hope he steers the Bill through parliament.
Here is the response I got from one of his staff
“Thank you for your email to David about the Fuel Poverty Bill.
I am delighted to inform you that, after much consultation with a diverse range of organisations and campaign groups, David decided to take forward the Bill through Parliament. While he received hundreds of worthy suggestions for potential Bills, he felt that the Fuel Poverty Bill would make a lasting difference to the huge number of people living in unacceptable conditions across Britain today.
The Bill will have two main objectives. The first will be the launch of a major energy efficiency programme to ‘fuel poverty proof’ existing homes by bringing them up to the current energy efficiency levels enjoyed by modern homes. The second will be the use of social tariffs to limit vulnerable households’ exposure to high energy bills. After the particularly cold weather we have experience this winter, there is a clear need to ensure that all homes are fully insulated, keeping the vulnerable warm and reducing energy bills.
Many high profile organisations, including Age Concern, the Child Poverty Action Group and Friends of the Earth, have backed the Bill. He is hopeful that with your continued support and effort, the Bill will build substantial cross-party backing.
Should you wish to receive updates on the progress of the Bill, please email me back and I will add you to our mailing list.”