Council representation in city centre wards

It is widely known that due to the bizarre way in which BaNES is structured, of the fifty-nine Councillors in BaNES only twenty-six (44%) represent the fourteen wards that comprise the City of Bath.  Eleven Councillors, about one in five of the total, have Bristol Post Codes.

It is less well known, but apparently the case, that not a single Councillor with the possible exception of Sue Craig (Liberal Democrat, Kingsmead) whose address is not posted on the Council website, lives within in the area covered by the three main city-centre residents’ associations, TARA, CARA and PERA which comprise the City Centre Action Group.  This area contains not only an unusually high resident population for a city centre but all of the city’s main visitor attractions including the Roman Baths and Bath Spa, the iconic mainly 18th C. streets, terraces, crescents and squares, the city’s main churches and museums, its commercial core and principal shopping centre.  It is a thriving community which underpins the BANES’s economy as well as its global reputation.

Could such an imbalance in representation partly account for the sorry state of the heart of our city when compared with peer cities such as York and Chester which do not have the advantage of World Heritage Site status.  The physical infrastructure of our city-centre is way below current European standards and comments by visitors on its messiness and unkempt appearance are common in the media.  There is no police station or post office worthy of the name (Melksham and Wells have both).  Waste collection and litter removal have serious unresolved issues, traffic management is incoherent and air quality in many parts of the city centre below legal standards.

All of this underpins, the importance of having active local residents’ groups to speak up for the interests of the city centre to the Council.  And there is no substitute for having your local Councillor as a neighbour as residents in communities such as Norton Radstock and Keynsham, who having ten Councillors between them.  The Bath City Centre Forum has entirely failed to address any of these issues.

The ‘parishing’ of the city has been discussed and although the process of achieving this might be lengthy and difficult it is one we would support.