Sunday, 13 April 2008

Partners and Communities Together (PACT) Meeting

The next PACT meeting is 29 April 2008 at 7:00 PM lasting 1 hour 30 minutes (In 2 weeks and 2 days)
at Weston Methodist Church, Kennington Road, Lower Weston, Bath.

Priorities established on 22nd January 2008

1. Overspill parking from the RUH and rubbish from smokers not allowed in the RUH grounds.
2. Weston Park - speeding.
3. Lack of lighting in Chandlers Close.

Partners and Communities Together gives you the chance to influence what happens in your neighbourhood. PACT is a mechanism whereby issues identified through PACT meetings in your neighbourhood, are taken to a PACT partnership panel where courses of action are agreed.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Bath loses out again

Liberal Democrat Councillors have expressed their disappointment that the scrutiny call-in, which had been organised to look into the increases in parking costs in Bath, has been dismissed.

The panel voted, by four votes to three, to dismiss the call-in, with Conservative Councillors from outside of Bath backing the original decision taken by their Conservative Cabinet colleague. The Cabinet member will now be free to go ahead and implement the decision to apply increases of up to 60% to residents’ permit costs across the city, as well as a number of other changes to parking costs and arrangements. Of the four who voted against 3 do not live in Bath

The call-in panel raised a number of issues around poor consultation and excessive increases to permit costs. Although all Councillors agreed that consultation on this decision had been inadequate, Conservative Councillors appeared more concerned with the state of the Council’s finances than the issue of engaging with those who will be affected.

More charges for the elderly

A call-in on the decision to increase the cost of home care services for elderly residents has been submitted by the Liberal Democrat Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council. Members of the Labour Group agreed to co-sign the call-in. The call-in has been verified and the hearing will be held within 2 weeks.

The signatories are calling on the Cabinet member to reconsider his decision to increase the charges for a range of services to elderly people, such as:

  • Community meal costs up by over a pound per meal.
  • Hourly rate for home care to rise by 74%.
  • Maximum weekly charge for care to go up by almost 400%.

Councillor for Newbridge, Loraine Brinkhurst, who is leading the call-in, commented:

“When we heard that Cllr. Vic Pritchard the Conservative Cabinet Member was authorising these extortionate price increases for Home Care we were incensed. The price increases will have a huge impact on our residents who so desperately need these services. My fear is that many residents may cut down or even cancel the use of home care due to this hike in charges, and this could then lead to our residents struggling to live independently in their own homes.”

Councillor Cherry Beath (Combe Down) said:

When decisions like this are made, you have to question the focus and value systems held by this current administration. This decision is, like many we have seen in recent months, all about money, and disregards the dire impacts it will have on a particularly vulnerable group of our residents, hitting them hard at their point of need, and at a time in their lives when they are least able to protect themselves.

The undersigned Councillors wish to support the call-in of the decision E1795 ‘Charging Policy for Adult Care Community Services’ taken by the Cabinet member for Adult Social Services and Housing, Cllr Vic Pritchard (WL 14-Mar-08). This paper is called-in for the following reasons:

· Home care rates are to rise from £8.04 to £14. This represents an increase of 74% which would seem to be an unfairly steep rate of increase the impact of which should have been given more weight in the decision making.

· Evidence is given that charges are being increased in line with those of neighbouring authorities. However no evidence is given that the difference in cost of living between authority areas has been taken into account.

· In section 6.2 pf the decision paper it is stated that only an estimated 90 service users will potentially be faced by domiciliary care charge increases. However in the same section it is stated that the Council expects an extra £100,000 of income from these 90 people. This equates £1111 per person on top of the charges they are already paying. This would seem to be disproportionate and unfair.

· Similarly, the charges for community transport are to rise by 50%, with an expected additional £133 income to the Council per user, per year. Again this seems disproportionate.

· Charges for community meals are to rise by 38% or £1.05 per meal. This will have a wider impact than some of the charges mentioned above given that 67,000 meals are served per year.

· No evidence is given that an assessment has been carried out of the impact on those residents who will be affected by several or all of these price increases. Many pensioners are on fixed incomes; with costs of food and fuel also rising, these charges increases could be the last straw.

· If costs go up residents may reduce their care. There is no evidence of a risk analysis of this possibility having been carried out.

Round and Round We Go

Plans to improve the look of roundabouts in Bath and North East Somerset through sponsorship deals have been delayed thanks to the Council's legal department say Lib Dem Councillors.

After at least 15 years of going backwards and forwards, including 297 emails from one Councillor to try and get something done, the Planning Committee gave permission for the first sponsored roundabouts last summer. It was hoped that the scheme would help make the entrances to our city more attractive and would save council tax payers money.

However, despite Councils across the country allowing companies to sponsor roundabouts, the legal department at B&NES Council is not sure whether we can do it here. Now Liberal Democrat Group leader Cllr Paul Crossley has written to Cabinet members Charles Gerrish and Malcolm Hanney asking them to take action and clear away this most recent hurdle.

Cllr Nigel Roberts (Odd Down) who has been following this issue since permission was given in principle for two roundabouts in Odd Down, said:

It's now 8 months since permission was in theory given for these roundabout sponsorship deals. It's not as if B&NES would be blazing a trail – this is a well-established practice in many areas. You would think that the Cabinet as it has been putting up charges in so many areas would want to pursue this idea.

Councillor Marian McNeir (Lyncombe) said:

“When you travel around the country, you see many well planted and looked after sponsored roundabouts. They can often reflect something special about the local area, for example there is one near the Eden project in Cornwall which has the same wonderful flags that you find at Eden. Why can't we do the same in B&NES? We've been talking about it for years, now is the time to act. After all it is an opportunity to save the Council money which could go towards bringing the other charges down.”

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Schools closures, nearer boys school ?

The council is carrying out a secondary school review. The recommendations suggest Oldfield School will become co-ed and that there should be only one site for a secondary school north of the city. If school was built on the Oldfield site it would mean a closer school than Beechan Cliff for boys in Weston, but the nearest single sex school for girls would be Hayesfield.

If the new school was built on the St. Mark's site in Larkhall that would mean a long trip for all children in the Weston area, for that we would need school buses, as suggested by the yellow bus campaign. What are your views ?

The recommendation of the report for Bath are below:


Retain Beechen Cliff School and Hayesfield Technology College as single sex boys and girls 11-18 schools with co-educational post 16 provision.

Retain St. Gregory’s Catholic as an 11-16 co-educational Catholic school.

Retain Ralph Allen as a co-educational 11-18 school.

Consult on closing Culverhay and re-opening the school as a new 11-18 co-educational Community school or Academy on the current site. This would address the issue of parental demand for a higher number of coeducational places.

Consult on the closure of St Mark’s Church of England and Oldfield schools and opening a new 11-18 co-educational Church of England school in the north of the city. The consultation should determine the site for the school. This would address the issue of parental demand, and also factors including the high number of places at Oldfield which are currently filled by South Gloucestershire students.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Post Office Closures

We are pleased that Weston Post Office is not included on the list for closure, although the post office in lower Weston is threatened.

Four Bath Post Offices are down for closure and Liberal Democrat Councillors with threatened Post Offices in their wards are campaigning with Don Foster MP against the Government plans.

Councillor Caroline Roberts (Newbridge) who is a regular patron of the Lower Weston Post Office, said:

“After the closure of Yomede Post Office, local people were hoping that the Lower Weston Post Office on Newbridge Road would be safe. Since the closure of Yomede, elderly people in Newbridge area have already had to take the bus to get to Lower Weston. The nearest Post Office will now be in Weston Village – which is not on a bus route – or the city centre.

“The future of the very popular shop attached to the Post Office is now in jeopardy.”

“I urge all residents to support the campaign to save Bath’s Post Offices, and to sign the petition on our website.”

This is a backward step which does nothing to help local people. I call on the govt to reconsider.”

Don Foster MP said:

“I am concerned that the social importance of Post Offices is being ignored by the Government. These closures do not take into account the knock-on effect on other shops in the local community. It will be the elderly and vulnerable who are most affected by these closures as they may struggle to travel the extra distance to important services”.

7.56% is real tax increase in Council budget

7.56% is the real tax increase residents are facing this year

Directly, residents are going to be charged a 3.95% Council tax increase. However, with all of the hikes in other fees and charges and the introduction of new fees planned by the Conservative Cabinet, the real figure is 7.56%.

New and increased charges in this budget include: the introduction of charges for on-street parking for disabled drivers; increases in charges for services for older people; an increase of 56% for residents’ parking permits; increases in park and ride fares; extensions to other car park charges; and a 10% increase in garden and bulky waste charges.

The budget will hit vulnerable people with high charges; it will punish drivers, without improving traffic flows; it will delay, put off or abandon important environmental measures, such as same-day collection and extending recycling; and it will exacerbate problems through cuts to the Council’s youth and other services.