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Chairman’s Statement prepared for the TARA 2019 AGM

Unsightly and unauthorised trade waste dumps have continued to be a problem in some of the most beautiful and iconic parts of our city and we have been lobbying the council and the BID to have them removed. Despite political support for our campaign little has been done beyond some periodic tidying up. This has highlighted the extent to which council officers are willing and able to ignore democratic processes and regulation and we have lodged formal complaints with the ombudsman service.

We have continued to work to ensure that Bath City centre residents are represented in any relevant consultation run by public authorities which this year have included the proposals for improving air quality, licensing of gambling, the Stadium at the Rec , the Footprint Project, the Archway Project and Street Trading Policy.

We work closely with those policing the city centre as they go through their ongoing restructuring and cope with the cuts to funding. We hold regular meeting with officers as well as attending liaison meetings such as Pub Watch, the Night Time Economy Steering Group and the Responsible Authorities Group. We continue to lobby for more resources to be given to policing the city centre. However, we are concerned at the nature of the debate which is now taking place. Firstly, the fear of crime still remains a greater problem than actual crime. The way in which the current debate is being conducted is in our view increasing the fear of crime. Secondly, we need a much more serious debate about where any additional resources should be spent. For instance, not just creating a new police station but spending on having more and or better-equipped officers, more CCTV coverage or perhaps properly funded programmes to tackle the drug dependence and mental illness that drives much of the theft and anti-social behaviour. It is very important to residents that this debate is properly conducted and does not become just another political football.

We have been lobbying BANES to create a better coordinated and more proactive approach to the authorising and monitoring of major building projects in the city centre as well as trying to support residents impacted by badly managed projects such as the hotel development on South Parade.

Led by Michael Brett we have continued to support members in responding to planning applications that threaten their quality of life.

We continue to work with members help them deal with the complexities of the licensing acts. We also have regular meetings with licensees and often hold discussions with people planning licensed premises in the city.

Bath's Universities are an important part of Bath's economy. The students they attract are a significant and, for the most part welcome, part of our community. We have regular contact with student unions in various liaison groups addressing issue like the nighttime economy, river safety and events. We now establish liaison points with both University administrations and are working with Bath Spa to establish links between academics and Bath community groups who share common interests.

The way in which health services are delivered is we know of concern to many of our members and we attend consultation groups set up by the RUH and the Clinical Commissioning Group.

We have continued to work with our partners to develop the City Centre Action Group and the CCAG now has a regular schedule of meetings with leading local politicians and key officers and officials working on such issues as:

We have continued to lobby for a proper plan of action to address the scandal of high levels of pollution poisoning residents of, visitors to and workers in the city centre. We were pleased when central government funding became available to create a clean air zone and actively participated in the discussions with officers and their specialist advisors in designing the best way to implement it. During the consultation that followed we actively campaigned that the officers’ carefully consider recommendations should be implemented. Unfortunately, the CAZ became a political football where the voting intentions of North East Somerset took precedence over swift and effective action to stop city centre residents’ health being damaged. It also meant that the decision date was pushed back so close to the elections as to jeopardise the implementation of even the suboptimal proposal.

We are concerned about the management of the streetscape and in particular:

We have been working with the organisers of major events to ensure due consideration of the impact they will have on city centre residents.

We continue to develop our website to ensure members are informed about what TARA is doing on their behalf and give them news of things that might affect them.

Since its inception we have been critical of the Bath City Forum and in particular the way in which it has been implemented with 13 unelected and unrepresentative people being appointed by an opaque process to sit in on its deliberations. This year we have become even more concerned to see this body getting a considerable say in how public funds are allocated within the city.

With the election of a new MP we have sought to highlight areas were we believe their is a need for action at a national level to address local problems including:

A number of organisations, pressure groups and individuals have proposed pedestrianising various parts of the city centre. We have argued that we should be talking about how to improve the city centre for all those who live, work and visit. Pedestrianisation may have a role to play in these plans but it cannot and should not be seen as an end in itself.

We have worked to counter misinformation put out into the public domain around rules and regulations for instance as to what can be done to improve the energy efficiency of listed buildings

I would like to thank the very hard-working members of your committee for all their support and you our members for your continuing support of TARA and its work.