BathNES Liberal Democrats
Serving Bath and North East Somerset
Working For You - All Year Round
Local residents are being urged to have their say this month on the latest changes which are proposed to the B&NES Core Strategy.
The Core Strategy is the top-level planning document for the district, which was originally adopted in September 2011. However since then changes to national legislation have meant that the Council is required to find more land for housing. The plan now is for 12,700 new homes over the period of the plan (to 2029) rather than the previous figure of 11,500.
A set of proposed changes to the Core Strategy were adopted in March this year, with cross party support. Now residents have their chance to comment on these proposals in a consultation running from 26 March through to 8 May 2013. All comments will be sent directly to the Government Inspector for consideration during public hearings in June/July 2013.
Councillor Ben Stevens (Widcombe) commented:
"I would urge residents to respond to the consultation so that your views can be taken into account at the next stage of consideration of the Core Strategy.
"It's essential that we get an approved Core Strategy for the district, to make sure that we are protected from unplanned and speculative planning applications. However it is also important that the Inspector hears from local communities about what is best for them – particularly given that some of the proposed sites are on previously undeveloped land.
"The Core Strategy proposals will help provide for much-needed homes for local families including over 3,000 affordable homes, as well as helping to promote a strong local economy, by allocating land for employment uses."
The Council is holding a series of consultation events in April at venues across the district. Residents can also respond to the consultation in writing. For further information, please see this link: www.bathnes.gov.uk/corestrategy or drop into a Council Office or Library.
The listening budget, which was adopted by Council on Tuesday night, prioritises the frontline services that are most important to residents and protects services for the most vulnerable, whilst still achieving a further year of frozen Council tax for all residents. The Liberal Democrats are also prioritising sensible capital investment which will help to support the local economy and provide the conditions for more growth and, ultimately, more jobs for local people.
During the debate, Councillor David Bellotti (Lib Dem. Lyncombe) said:
“We are a listening Council and we have taken notice of representations made through Scrutiny and Cabinet. As a result we are going to accept a proposal that removes the cut in Children’s Centres for this coming year, while asking Cabinet, with advice from Scrutiny, to produce a plan for Children’s Services delivered through Children’s Centres in future years. We will also be accepting a proposal about the toilets in the communities of Larkhall and Weston.”
Four amendments were incorporated into the final text of the budget which was approved by Council.
Tories put Politics Ahead of People
The Conservative group (with one abstention) voted together AGAINST the budget. Despite broad consensus from around the chamber that this was a good budget in difficult times, Conservative Councillors still opted to play political games and vote against.
Cllr Ben Stevens (Lib Dem, Widcombe) said
"The Liberal Democrats work hard to represent the views of our residents and this listening budget was no exception. Times are not easy for residents so we took the decision to freeze council tax, and it’s disappointing to see the Conservatives vote against this measure so clearly designed to help. It was a bizarre spectacle to see Tory Councillors standing up, complimenting our budget, then explaining they wouldn't be voting in favour."
One of the amendments the Liberal Democrats were happy to include in the budget was a twenty-five thousand pound fund to help victims of flood and fire. The fund was to help residents whose homes are no longer habitable pay their Council Tax. This measure was also voted against by the Conservatives when it came to the budget vote.
Cllr Jeremy Sparks (Lib Dem, Clutton) said, "When the floods devastated parts of the Chew Valley and Clutton, the Liberal Democrats were keen to help. In addition to money in the budge to alleviate flooding, we were happy to accept this sensible measure when it was proposed by the Conservatives. I cannot understand why they then voted against it. It's a shame that they have put politics ahead of people in the rural areas, again."
The Bath and North East Somerset Council budget passed with 38 votes for, 25 against and 1 abstention.
More on the budget
Please see our budget page here: http://www.bathlibdems.org.uk/budget
Year 5 pupils from Widcombe Junior School in Bath had the chance to tackle Member of the European Parliament Sir Graham Watson this week as part of a visit to the city.
The Lib Dem MEP answered a range of questions about his role, how he got into politics and how the European Union works and operates.
Sir Graham said,
“It is great to have the opportunity to meet the pupils. They were very curious about my role as their Member of the European Parliament and what I do on a day to day basis.
“Many pupils leave the education system with little or no knowledge of the European Union and how it affects our day to day lives. We also have an acute lack of linguists coming out of school and not enough students taking up schemes such as ERASMUS to study for a year at a University on the continent later on in their education. I hope that through more visits such as these, knowledge of Europe can increase so everyone can at least have informed opinions.”
Sir Graham then spoke to the cabinet of Bath and North East Somerset Council to discuss the future of European funding and how Bath can tap into EU funding streams.
Cllrs Paul Crossley and David Bellotti met with builders Wilmott Dixon today to start the first phase of the Keynsham project. Following Development Control's request for improvements in the design a new scheme will be presented at the end of the month.
The first phase is to remove the asbestos from the current buildings and is a vital stage that needs to be done.
The final project will see new offices and retail in great modern buildings.