Wednesday, 16 December 2009

No Council priority on transport to school

he transport Cabinet member for B&NES has come under criticism from Liberal Democrat Councillors following his announcement that sorting out transport to schools will not be a priority for the Conservative-run Council next year.

Councillor Nathan Hartley, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on young people, questioned the Cabinet member over school transport at the recent Cabinet meeting; the response was that there are there are “no plans to expand the funding or subsidy of public transport that is used by children and young people to reach school”.

Councillor Hartley (Peasedown St John) said:

“Once again the Conservative-run Council has dismissed this important issue. Sorting out the school run would make a major contribution towards reducing traffic jams and air pollution, but the Conservatives have refused to make it a priority.

“Most people would prefer to use public transport to send their kids to school, but the cost is prohibitive.

“The Council’s scrutiny panel for children’s services recently carried out a review on transport to school; this cross-party panel put in months of hard work on the issue and concluded that funding for school transport should be a top priority in next year’s budget. The Cabinet decided to ignore these recommendations.”

Bath MP Don Foster commented:

“Everyone can tell the difference in traffic levels from term-time to holiday time. It’s about time the Conservative Council started prioritising some common sense solutions to Bath’s congestion problems, rather than wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on a bus road through people’s gardens.

“At the moment we are in the hands of the bus companies when it comes to getting our kids to school; what we need is some political leadership.”

Councillor Caroline Roberts (Newbridge), Liberal Democrat spokesperson on transport, added:

“The Conservatives are showing once again that they have no answers on transport for B&NES. They are only interested in chasing after government finance for new roads and tarmac, whilst ignoring simple ideas which could make a real difference.”

Don Foster MP comments on announcement of Public Inquiry into Bath Transportation package

“Right from the outset I have argued that more research was needed into these proposals. When I spoke at a Council meeting in September 2008 I expressed my concerns that this project had been tackled the wrong way round, and that consultation with residents had been far from adequate.

“However, the Council refused to listen to my concerns and is now faced with the real possibility of losing almost £60million. Had they gone about the task properly right from the start then we wouldn’t be in this situation.

“Congestion is a huge problem in Bath, what we need are some common sense solutions to deal with traffic issues in the city, such as prioritising getting our children on buses to school.”

Residents see red over blue bags

The new blue bags issued by B&NES Council for recycling cardboard are causing headaches across the district, according to Liberal Democrat Councillors.

Cardboard collections were switched from a fortnightly to a weekly rota on 30th November; residents are supposed to use a special blue bag to put out their cardboard and brown paper, rather than putting it out with the garden waste. However the bags have not been delivered to all homes across the district and the Council’s campaign to inform residents about the changes has apparently not reached everyone.
Councillor Caroline Roberts (Newbridge) commented:

“Many people are obviously having problems with the new system, either because they haven’t received their blue bags or because the information about when and how to use them hasn’t got through.

“I have heard reports from across the district – including Combe Down, Widcombe, Saltford and Chew Valley – that blue bags have not been delivered to residents. And where people have not heard about the new cardboard collection bags being put out on the wrong day or have been left lying around in the street as people don’t know what they are for.

“I believe the Cabinet member responsible must take action to ensure that the bags are delivered to all residents as soon as possible; he must also continue with the information campaign about the new services or else there is a risk residents will just give up saving their cardboard.

“The Liberal Democrats have long argued for same day collections for waste and recycling as well for more items to go in the recycling rather than landfill. The weekly cardboard collection should have made life easier for residents, sadly the poor implementation of the changes have lead to confusion and annoyance.”

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Nick Clegg to hold town hall meeting in Bath

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg is inviting the people of Bath to tell him what they think about fixing the economy and rebuilding trust in politics.

Bringing his series of ‘Nick Clegg meets…’ town hall meetings to Bath on Thursday 7th January, Nick Clegg will discuss with local people the issues that matter most to them.

Chaired by local MP Don Foster the meeting is open to everyone to attend to ask any question to Nick Clegg they would like. The meeting will be held at St Michael’s Without, Broad Street from 6.30pm-7.45pm.

Upon becoming Leader in December 2007, Nick Clegg spoke of creating a new type of politics: open, accessible, and helpful in people’s everyday lives. This direct conversation with people is part of that people’s politics – no spin, no hand-picked audiences, and no planted questions.

People will soon be able to register for tickets at

Nick Clegg said:

“I am looking forward to having a discussion with the people of Bath about problems they are facing and how together we can solve them.

“Since becoming leader of the Liberal Democrats I have travelled up and down the country listening to the concerns of thousands of people and families.

“It is now more important than ever for politicians to get out of Westminster and engage with people about how to rebuild our economy and restore trust in politics.”

Commenting further, Bath MP Don Foster said:

“I am sure that the residents of Bath will relish the opportunity to discuss the issues they care most about with Nick.

“I know that Nick will be interested to learn about the problems faced by people, like the need for improved public transport and the nuisance caused by urban gulls.”

Step fixed in lansdown

The broken step highlighted in the last Lansdown Focus has now been fixed, following the intervention of Matt Hemsley the Liberal Democrat Lansdown campaigner. The loose step, which was a serious accident waiting to happen, was pointed out to Matt by a local resident.

After it was pointed out, Matt encouraged the council to act quickly and fix the step, which they have done. However, it is worrying that a step could become so loose before it was fixed.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Wet House - council not listening again

Councillors on Bath and North East Somerset Council had the opportunity tonight to hear statements from members of the public about the proposed hostel and wet house near Kingsmead Square.

However Liberal Democrat Councillors were disappointed when the ruling Conservative Group refused to hold a 10 minute ‘urgent issue’ debate on the topic. One Conservative Cabinet Member even complained that Councillors were using the right to ask factual questions of public speakers as a chance to raise political points.

Councillor Andy Furse (Kingsmead) commented:

“The fact that the Conservative administration refused to allow a debate in public about the wet house and hostel proposal smacks of the secrecy that has surrounded this issue since the start.

“Nearly all the business owners and residents who came to speak mentioned the lack of consultation and engagement from the Council. One might begin to wonder whether there is more information which will impact businesses and the community which is so far being held back. For example I tabled a question to Council tonight and in the answer the Cabinet member refers to a ‘wet garden’ rather than an indoor facility. This is the first we have heard of a ‘wet garden’ and it seems as though the Cabinet member is once again moving the goalposts.

“I do, however, welcome the Cabinet member’s suggestion about ‘commissioning independent research’ into the wet house scheme and I urge him to make sure any research is shared with the public and businesses in an open and transparent fashion.”

Councils got priorities wrong again ?

Bath and North East Somerset Council has spent nearly £150,000 on publicity relating to the Bath Transport Package and BRT scheme, it has been revealed this week.

Councillor Nigel Roberts (Odd Down) quizzed the Cabinet member responsible for transport at Council this week and found that total spending thus far on publicity relating to the BTP including the BRT scheme was £145,136.51.

However, only £30,819 has been spent on publicising the Core Strategy consultation programme so far this year, despite the fact that the Core Strategy is arguably the most important issue facing the Council in its current term.

Councillor Roberts commented:

“I do find it disappointing that there is such an imbalance in the funding dedicated to publicity. Yes, the transport package is important and the Council should be communicating with residents about it, but the Core Strategy is going to affect the whole of the district for the next 20 years.

“The Council must do more to reach out to all parts of the community and communicate the importance of this consultation, which will influence the location of housing, land allocated for business use and other issues for years to come.”

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

traffic arrangements for Christmas

Some of the measures designed to improve the flow of traffic around the city area are:

Variable Message Signing will be used on all the major routes giving travel advice to drivers, like availability of car parking;

No right-hand turns in or out of Charlotte Street car park for drivers from 25 November to relieve congestion and help stop traffic jams;

Sunday Park and Ride for a further six Sunday’s and operating until 9.30pm on fifteen evenings in the run-up to Christmas;

Increased patrols by Civil Enforcement Officers to ensure responsible, safe parking by drivers.

Embargoed all road works except for emergencies.

For the Bath Christmas Market, coaches must registered to use designated drop-off points and park at one of the designated coach parks. There will be:

Better arrangements for coaches travelling to Bath. New traffic orders for North Parade, Orange Grove, High Street, and Grand Parade mean coaches not registered will be moved on;

Restrictions to coach parking on Bathwick Hill, Bear Flats and the inbound carriageway of Wellsway will ensure the normal bus and vehicle traffic isn’t hindered and minimise any inconvenience to residents from coaches parking on the edge of private properties;

Vigorous enforcement of minibuses coming to the city that have not registered.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Don asks Minister why House of Commons won’t sign up to 10:10

Bath’s Lib Dem MP Don Foster asked the government Minister why she wasn’t prepared to sign the House of Commons up to the 10:10 campaign.

Don has signed up to the campaign himself, which calls for individuals, organizations and businesses to reduce their carbon output by 10% in 2010. The government is calling on people to sign up, but isn’t prepared to itself!

Don said, “The government should be taking a lead on climate change issues, and shouldn’t be seen as merely lecturing to others. That’s why I questioned the Minister as to why she wouldn’t back the House of Commons signing up to the 10:10 campaign.”

You can read Don’s question to the Minister by clicking the link.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Good news on recycling front

Ever since we started collecting plastic bottles residents have been asking what about yoghurt pots and food trays. Ever since we started the garden waste collection residents have been asking for cardboard to be made weekly.

Well the good news is that from Monday 30th November the weekly collection is being expanded to include cardboard and household plastic packaging for recycling. This will help reduce the amount of our waste going to landfill and reduce our carbon footprint. It should also help reduce the amount of missed cardboard collection that has happened in several areas either because it has been put out on the wrong day or because the cardboard has been wrapped wrongly. It should also help areas that have been missed completely when the move to same day collection started.

Between 16th and 27th November 2009 the Council will deliver a leaflet about the changes along with a blue weatherproof bag - for cardboard and brown paper only - to every household covered by the green box recycling scheme. It is important that cardboard is kept separate from the newspapers and other kinds of paper that residents put in their recycling box because they are recycled separately. Once these new collections start, the Council will no longer collect cardboard mixed with the garden waste as this mix has become difficult to compost successfully.

Further information on what should be placed in the blue bag, recycling green box, and what types of plastic can be recycled is included in the Winter edition of Connect Magazine that will be distributed to all households across the district from mid-November. For more information about the new service, go to or contact Council Connect on 01225 39 40 41 or

The bad news of course is that we still have to wait for Autumn 2011 before food waste is collected separately. This had been scheduled for Spring 2008 but has been delayed. It is the food waste in the bags that attract various wildlife to tear open the bags and spill mess everywhere.

To pay for it our Conservative Council will be increasing the garden waste collection service. It would be better if they abandoned their plans to build new Council offices in Keynsham!!!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

B&NES PCT fails to spend over 85% of allocated money to carers

National charities the Princess Royal Trusts for Carers and Crossroads Care have revealed that government money for carers hasn’t been spent to increase support for carers, as intended.

Nationally, the government allocated £50million of new money for carers in 2009/10, and 80% of this money has not been spent as intended. In Bath and North East Somerset, the situation is worse, with under 14% of the allocated money being spent on carers.

Bath MP Don, who spoke at the local Crossroads AGM last Friday, said, “Carers are the unsung heroes of our society. Over half give up work to care, and 33% are in debt. Yet they provide a service which is worth £87billion per year to the state.

“It is therefore very disappointing the Bath & North East Somerset PCT have chosen to spend money allocated for carers on other projects, with over 85% of the allocated money being spent on areas other than caring

“The government must also take responsibility for the fact that this money isn’t reaching its intended target. They must put pressure on PCTs to spend this money on helping our carers.”

Lansdown Unemployment

Unemployment has risen from 47 to 67 in a year, time to do something ? Although other parts of Bath are suffering worse, 20 is still too many people.

Tories to increase university tuition fees

There is now less than eight months to save a new generation of young people from huge increases in university tuition fees, according to Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, Don Foster

Don was speaking after the Conservatives suggested they will increase tuition fees to £7,000 if they take power at the next general election, which has to be held by next June.

That will see tuition fees for undergraduates more than double. Currently there is a cap of £3,300 in England and Wales.

Peter Mandelson has already suggested that Labour will allow universities to charge more than at present if re-elected – though the party is too scared to push through the changes it wants before June.

Only the Liberal Democrats will scrap tuition fees. The party believes university education should be free and everyone who has the ability should be able to go – and not be put off by the cost.

Bath MP Don said: “I look around Bath and I see people return from university with no job and a bank balance tens of thousands of pounds in the red. What sort of message is that?

“Labour and now the Tories are showing their true colours. They don’t care about young people – they just want to saddle them with staggering amounts of debt.

“The choice is clear: the people of Bath can vote for a politician who will condemn a generation of youngsters or for the Liberal Democrats who will make education free again, giving young people the best possible start.”

More tory inactivity - homeless lose out this time

Commenting on the debate over the proposed homelessness centre near Kingsmead Square, Cllr Will Sandry (Lib Dem shadow Cabinet member for healthier communities and older people and Councillor for Oldfield) said:

"Cllr Pritchard, through indifference and inaction, has lost £2.5M of central government funding for this project and now he is stuck with the James Street West site as it has become the only affordable site.

"The shameful thing about this project is that it is still not clearly defined what will be at the site, but it is accepted that the site is too small to provide the right facilities for the complex needs of homeless people in Bath.

"Cllr Pritchard knows that all he needs to do is pick up the phone to the Homes and Communities Agency to re-establish dialogue. But for some reason he is unwilling to do this.

"The one thing I agree with Cllr Pritchard about is that the facilities at the current Julian House desperately need to be upgraded.

"Unless he sorts this mess out soon, we will be left spending millions on a second rate facility."

It’s time for local MP to wear it pink and help beat breast cancer

Bath MP Don Foster is joining forces with Breast Cancer Campaign to raise awareness of for its award winning fundraising event, wear it pink, on Friday 30 October 2009.

It’s time to wear it pink, it’s time to beat breast cancer and Don is urging residents, young and old to get their pink outfits on. Schools, colleges and businesses throughout the country are encouraged to wear it pink in support of Campaign and donate £2 each to fund innovative world-class breast cancer research.

Last year over one and a half million people took part in wear it pink to help improve survival rates for the one in nine women who experience breast cancer during their lifetime. This recession busting fundraiser is affordable and easy to take part in, giving everyone the chance to help make a difference.

Don Foster MP says “Every year over 45,500 women and 300 men in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer. Like many others, I know people who have lost friends and family members to breast cancer. I would like to encourage everyone in Bath and throughout the country to support wear it pink on October 30, to raise valuable funds for breast cancer research.

Tories say no to Democracy

The Conservative-run B&NES Council is to cancel the forthcoming UK Youth Parliament Elections, which are due to take place in the authority in January.

Lib Dem Cllr Nathan Hartley, who nine years ago was one of the founding members of Democratic Action For Bath and North East Somerset Youth and the UK Youth Parliament elections here in B&NES, said:

“This is an awful decision to make. Now approaching its tenth year of activity the UK Youth Parliament has been extremely successful in engaging young people in the democratic process and encouraging countless teenagers to take an active role in society.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

10:10 climate campaign

Liberal Democrats on Bath and North East Somerset Council have welcomed news that the council is going to do something about climate change

Councillor Ian Gilchrist (Widcombe), who is B&NES Council's Energy and Climate Change Member Champion, commented:

"I welcome the Council's move to sign up to the 10:10 climate challenge. I am pleased to note that the recent LibDem conference called on all local authorities to do so, and am therefore delighted that B&NES has lost no time in following the call. At this point it only remains to ask other public and private bodies, such as the RUH, the universities and businesses to consider doing the same. And if enough private individuals do likewise this will increase pressure on our own government to go to the Copenhagen climate change conference with a clear mandate from the British public in a commitment to CO2 reductions."

The campaign can be seen at

Sunday Xmas buses for Park and Ride

Christmas shoppers and Bath businesses will benefit from Bath & North East Somerset Council’s decision to open its three Park and Ride services on seven consecutive Sunday’s from 8th November 2009 onwards.

The Council will also open its sites at Lansdown, Newbridge, and Odd Down until 9.30pm on fifteen evenings running up to Christmas, some of which coincide with the Christmas Market. A service will also run on Monday 28th December – the holiday in lieu of Boxing Day.

BRT - the road to no where

Bath MP Don Foster has commented on today’s announcement that the Secretary of State will not be calling in the proposed-Bus Rapid Transit link through Newbridge (along with the Newbridge Park and Ride extension) for his own determination.

Don said, “I am deeply disappointed with the decision made by the Secretary of State. However, this does not change my view that processes followed by the Council throughout have been seriously flawed.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

What do councillors declare ?

Do you want to know what the organisations the Lansdown Councillors belong to ? Have they received any gifts ? Thanks to Lib Dem, Roger Symonds, the way to found out has changed.

Until recently anyone wishing to check on B&NES councillors’ membership of organisations, employment, ownership of property or gifts received of over £25, has been faced with a lonely trek to the Keynsham offices. Now anyone with access to a computer can see this sort of detail on the Council’s web site.

Web address:

More houses for bath doing it wrong

B&NES Council has adopted a land-use policy paper setting out options for distribution of land for housing and jobs from 2011-2026.

Liberal Democrat Councillors voted to abstain on the paper citing concerns over the lack of preparation of the document. The Lib Dems have previously opposed the increased housing targets imposed by central government.

“We believe that our community should set housing needs targets, not the RDA or central government in London”, stated Councillor Paul Crossley (Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Councillor for Southdown).

“Whilst points in the recommendation before us tonight were in line with our policies on housing and land-use, we did not feel that the ‘spatial options’ paper was ready for publication.

“The Conservative administration of the Council has not allocated enough resources to the planning department to properly prepare the proposals – for example, we have been told that insufficient funds were available to carry out infrastructure modelling.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Conservatives refuse to try for hostel cash

Conservative politicians on Bath and North East Somerset have refused to re-open negotiations with the Government to try to secure funding for a hostel for the homeless in Bath.

Government funding for the hostel scheme was withdrawn in May due to concerns about timetables and deliverability. However, having made direct contact with the Homes and Communities Agency, Councillor Will Sandry (Liberal Democrat co-Shadow Cabinet member for healthier communities and older people and Liberal Democrat Councillor for Oldfield), was in a position to propose re-establishing dialogue with a view to reapplying for funding.

Cllr Sandry’s amendment was rejected by the Conservative administration of B&NES Council, although a smaller, local package of funding was adopted unanimously.

Councillor Sandry commented:

“My proposal offered the Cabinet member the opportunity to review the project, re-engage with the HCA and bring in local homelessness organisations, such as Julian House and others, on to the new project team.

“The money allocated by Council tonight was welcome, but it can only provide an incomplete solution to the complex needs of homeless people in Bath.

“Even though my proposals were unsuccessful on the night, I hope that the Cabinet member will reflect on them and, for the benefit of some of those most at need in our community, implement them.”

Lost Generation - Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg said "We cannot afford to let millions of young people get trapped on the dole. That's why today I've launched a new plan to tackle youth unemployment.

Did you know that nearly a fifth of 18 to 24-year-olds are currently unemployed? Without action now, more than 1.2 million young people could be unemployed by the end of 2011.

The Conservatives failed a whole generation in the wake of the last recession. A whole generation became trapped in a culture of dependency. Labour look set to repeat the same mistakes now. We can't let that happen."

Nick Clegg is launching new policy that would take almost 900,000 unemployed young people off the streets.

Under the plans more than 800,000 young people will be given a leg-up into industry via paid internships. An extra 60,000 places will be funding in universities and colleges, opening up further and higher education.

We will slash the time Labour forces young people to wait for support, fully fund apprenticeships to put British industry back on track and give more youngsters places on essential back-to-work schemes.

Our proposals would cost £1.1 billion and would be paid for by scrapping the VAT cut immediately.

For more details see:

B&NES Council rejects Bristol airport expansion

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning committee has opposed the expansion of Bristol International Airport at its meeting this week. This follows the similar position adopted by Bristol Council last month. The application is to be determined by North Somerset Council, but B&NES has is a consultee on the application.

Councillor Nicholas Coombes (Liberal Democrat, Bathwick) tabled the following wording which was adopted by ­­­8 votes to 4:

That Bath and North East Somerset Council considers that the causes and effects of climate change should be the principal considerations in a development of this nature and therefore recommends that the airport expansion application should be refused on these grounds.

Councillor Coombes welcomed the vote and said:

“The expansion of airports is incompatible with attempts to cut carbon emissions. Indeed, it goes against common sense to imagine that Bristol International Airport can double its emissions over the next 10 years but that carbon emissions overall can be reduced in line with government targets.

“Only this week the Climate Change Committee that the UK will have to cut emissions by 90% by 2050 for the aviation industry to continue to grow.

Department for Transport will look to support Sat Nav scheme

The Department for Transport will be sending a representative to the next meeting of the South West Regional Freight Forum, following Bath MP Don Foster’s request that they support a local pilot scheme which will see local authorities provide appropriate routes to Sat Nav companies.

In reply to Don’s letter, sent on the 12th August, Paul Clark MP the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Transport states that the work undertaken “sounds potentially very promising”.

Lib Dems in Bath have been backing calls for more appropriate routes for traffic, especially HGVs, and encouraged Bath & North East Somerset Council to start sending a representative to the Freight Forum. Now the DfT will be represented at the meetings and will “consider what support [they] can provide.”

Bath MP Don said, “I am pleased that the Department for Transport are showing a keen interest in this project. I have highlighted a number of areas in Bath where HGVs are using totally inappropriate routes and getting these routes removed from Sat Nav maps will be a big step to helping resolve the problem.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

New Super Off-Peak ticket will only add confusion

With First Great Western (FGW) set to introduce a new ‘Super Off-Peak’ ticket early in September, Bath MP has criticised the move saying it will only add to confusion for passengers.

Currently FGW have an Off-Peak and Peak ticket. The new Super Off-Peak ticket will be at the same price as the current Off-Peak ticket, with Off-Peak prices rising by 20%. Super Off-Peak travel will force people to leave Bath later in the morning, and also deny a return from London between 3pm and 7pm.

Don said, “Travelling from Bath to London on the train already involves one of the most expensive journeys per mile in the world. Adding extra restrictions on cheaper leisure travel is hardly going to encourage more families to use the railways.

“Moving to three types of fare only add confusion, and many people won’t even know what ticket to buy.