Focus on Kingsmead: February Edition
Pedestrianisation of Kingsmead Square
Following on from the work your councillors did last year with the police and local businesses to address anti-social behaviour and littering in the square, discussions have now moved on to restricting access to vehicles for part of each day which would transform the square into a relaxing, convivial city centre space for the residents of Bath to enjoy.
Draft proposals have been drawn up following on from consultation with the public and businesses and overall there is strong support for the proposition but there are issues to resolve loading/unloading and waste collection for the businesses around the square.
Cllr Sue Craig said, “Giving pedestrians exclusive access to the square during set times of each day will make space for outdoor social and cultural activities, with the added benefit of improving air quality for businesses and residents in the area."
Cllr Andy Furse added, “Over many years I have worked with the business community in the square to achieve small incremental improvements like tree lights, new waste bins, introduction of cafe tables & chairs; but I now feel we are close to achieving a step change by limiting traffic whilst maintaining access."
Monmouth Street and Saw Close
Kingsmead councillors Call for pavement widening and shared space improvements in Monmouth Street.
Following requests from residents, Cllrs Sue Craig and Andy Furse have asked highways experts to investigate shared space signage in Saw Close and Monmouth Street to reduce traffic speed and improve pedestrian safety. This is particularly important if Kingsmead Square becomes traffic free in the evenings as residents and tourists enjoying the night life in the centre of Bath will want to move freely between the café culture of Saw Close and Kingsmead Square without having to make way for speeding traffic.
Over the past 3 years there has been great concern raised by residents living close to RVP and those further afield regarding the type and frequency of events in the park.
RVP is a resource for us all to enjoy, the land having been acquired in the 19th century by Cllr (and 7 times Mayor) Jerom Murch to create a park for the sole purpose of enjoyment and outdoor pleasure for the residents of Bath as part of a public health initiative. However, what has happened over the past 3 years is the ever increasing commercialisation of the park for income, rather than to provide pleasure through access to open space or as the venue of events for the pleasure of local residents.
One significant event that epitomises this over commercialisation is the Pub in the Park. At a time when the council should be supporting local businesses, this event is adding unnecessary competition, creates huge disturbance for all local residents, fences off much of the park from ordinary park users, excludes local pub and food outlets from joining the event, and is expensive and financially out of reach for most residents. All, I am told, for a miniscule income of £10,000. Not much of a trade-off for the local resident and tax payer?
The noise from such an event affects residents enjoying their property and gardens as far as Lansdown, Lower Weston, and across the city centre.
We all want events in the city and residents close to RVP accept that the park is public open space where there will be a mix of types of events from the funfair, to circus, to music events, but too often RVP is the ‘easy option’ and we maintain that these should be spread across all of the parks and open spaces of Bath.
Whilst difficult financial choices are currently having to be made by local authorities across the whole country, a better balance needs to be struck as to the type and frequency of events in our public spaces. Decisions must consider the interests of park users and local residents and not be driven by commercial interests alone.
After being closed for nearly 5 years, the long-awaited opening of the Destructor Bridge to traffic is now imminent. The bridge opened to pedestrians and cyclists at the end of 2016 but issues around the design of traffic flows and the bus gate have caused a delay in opening the bridge to vehicles. The final report should be available to the council for sign off mid-January following which Crest Nicholson can be given the go ahead to complete the work. Before the end of quarter one, the road should be open one-way northbound via Midland road to cars and southbound to buses only.
Bin rooms in Rosewell Court, Griffin Court and Phoenix House
Since the introduction of the new refuse collections there is considerable concern and confusion from residents around refuse collections from Housing Association properties in the city centre. Some residents lost access to shared bin rooms altogether and others have been deprived of certain types of recycling facilities which meant that residents had no option but to store waste (including rotting food) in sometimes very small living spaces, for up to 2 weeks in between collections
On questioning the Cabinet about whether any detailed discussions had taken place with Curo, Cllr Andy Furse was told that the waste team is working with them at an operational level to troubleshoot collection problems in their properties. Curo’s asset team has set aside £200k for 2018/19 to rebuild bin stores at approx. 6 sites and make significant improvements at others, and the waste team will continue to be involved in this programme.
In terms of closures of bin rooms, Cllr Furse was informed that this has been required at a handful of locations in the centre such as one block at Rosewell Court. The reason given was that “prior to the service change, Curo cleaners were pulling black bag waste out of the bin rooms at this block and presenting them in piles on the pavements on collection day, a practise that could no longer continue under the new system aimed at keeping the streets cleaner.”
So far, between them, Andy and Sue have managed to get the bin rooms reopened in Rosewell Court and recycling facilities restored at Griffin Court. By the end of February, shared food waste disposal should also be available at Phoenix House.
Residents parking in Lower Weston
Residents parking is now becoming a greater issue in and around Lower Weston in Hungerford Rd, Audley Grove, St John’s Road and Audley Close and if the Clean Air Zone is implemented in its current form, this will only make matters worse as car owners will be looking for places to park just outside the zone boundary.
Cllrs Andy Furse and Sue Craig have successfully got improvements implemented to double yellow line and parking restrictions in the area but this is really sticking plaster on the ever increasing parking pressure from commuters and households with multiple cars.
Although residents in the area were not in favour of introducing residents parking when zone 12 was first introduced, parking pressure has got considerably worse since then and we believe that opinion has changed – so much so, that the Hungerford Road Residents Group actually handed a petition into the Council last year asking for the decision to be revisited.
Introducing a residents parking scheme manages the road space and restricts competition for parking to residents and restricts each household to 2 permits, excluding commuters. It would bring the area in line with the surrounding ones if agreed.
A similar consultation with the residents was about to happen just prior to the 2015 election but never went ahead after the new council was put in place. Andy and Sue continue to press for this with a view to getting the change into the parking budget for the coming year.
Welcome to our new ward members in Abbey
Andy and Sue would like to extend a warm welcome to the residents who have moved from Abbey ward to Kingsmead as part of the boundary changes. Please do get in touch and let us know what the key issues are for you and we will do our best to address them:
Cllr Sue Craig 01225 680783 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Andy Furse 01225 483218 email@example.com
Proposed Redevelopment of the Plumb Centre in Locksbrook Road
In response to calls from several residents of Newbridge and Kingsmead, Cllr Michelle O’Doherty (Newbridge) and Cllr Andy Furse have asked for this proposed development to be called to committee.
The proposal is to convert an industrial unit into mixed light industrial use and student accommodation. The primary objection is the “student only” element for the accommodation with no mix of either social or key-worker accommodation. Cllr Andy Furse commented “As it stands I have objected to the student only rationale - if the developer came forward with a mixed residential offer then the community may be more accepting of such a residential development.” We understand that the developer is now working with the Architects to try and draw up a new proposal which would include 20 key worker flats in the development