Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Guildhall, Bath. View directions

Contact: Marie Todd  01225 394414


No. Item


Welcome and introductions

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The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.


Emergency Evacuation Procedure

The Democratic Services Officer will read out the emergency evacuation procedure as set out in the notes.

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The Senior Democratic Services Officer read out the emergency evacuation procedure.


Apologies for Absence

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Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Tim Ball.


Declarations of Interest

At this point in the meeting declarations of interest are received from Members in any of the agenda items under consideration at the meeting. Members are asked to indicate:


(a) The agenda item number in which they have an interest to declare.

(b) The nature of their interest.

(c) Whether their interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an other interest, (as defined in Part 4.4 Appendix B of the Code of Conduct and Rules for Registration of Interests)


Any Member who needs to clarify any matters relating to the declaration of interests is recommended to seek advice from the Council’s Monitoring Officeror a member of his staff before the meeting to expedite dealing with the item during the meeting.

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Cllr David Wood declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item no. 13 – Climate Annual Report and Ecological Emergency Action Plan.  Cllr Wood is a Director of the Charity Avon Needs Trees which is referred to as a partner organisation in the Ecological Emergency Action Plan.


To Announce any Urgent Business Agreed by the Chair

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There was no urgent business.


Questions from Public and Councillors

Questions submitted before the deadline will receive a reply from an appropriate Cabinet member or an undertaking to respond within 5 working days of the meeting.  Councillors may ask one supplementary question for each question they submit, up to a maximum of two per Councillor.

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There were 4 questions from Councillors and 10 questions from members of the public.

[Copies of the questions and responses, including supplementary questions and responses if any, have been placed on the Minute book as Appendix 1 and are available on the Council's website.]

Cabinet Q&A Sheet - 9th March 2023 pdf icon PDF 540 KB

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Statements or Petitions from Public or Councillors

Councillors and members of the public may register their intention to make a statement if they notify the subject matter of their statement before the deadline.  Statements are limited to 3 minutes each.  The speaker may then be asked by Cabinet members to answer factual questions arising out of their statement.

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Members of the public and Councillors made statements as follows:


·  Malcolm Baldwin – Liveable Neighbourhoods – Sometimes less can often mean more!  (A copy of which is attached as appendix 2 to these minutes)

·  Jackie Head – Sustainable Transport (A copy of which is attached as appendix 3 to these minutes)

·  David Redgewell – Bus Franchising and Public Transport Network (A copy of which is attached as appendix 4 to these minutes)

·  Jevon Smith – Bus Franchising and Public Transport Network.  Mr Smith stressed the importance of public transport to elderly and disabled people and the need for joined up services in the region.

·  Luke Emmett – New use for the old King Edwards School, using spaces in the Post Office and other empty shops in Bath (A copy of which is attached as appendix 5 to these minutes)

·  Bob Goodman – The Real Climate Emergency (A copy of which is attached as appendix 6 to these minutes)

·  Nicolette Boater – Climate Annual Report & Ecological Emergency Action Plan (A copy of which is attached as appendix 7 to these minutes)

·  Cllr Lucy Hodge – Building back the B&NES Music Service after COVID (A copy of which is attached as appendix 8 to these minutes)


Cabinet members asked some factual questions of the speakers in order to clarify details mentioned in their statements.

Malcolm Baldwin Statement - Liveable Neighbourhoods - Less can often mean more! - Appendix 2 pdf icon PDF 111 KB

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Minutes of Previous Cabinet Meeting - 9th February 2023 pdf icon PDF 667 KB

To be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 9th February 2023 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Consideration of Single Member Items Requisitioned to Cabinet

This is a standard agenda item, to cover any reports originally placed on the Weekly List for single Member decision making, which have subsequently been the subject of a Cabinet Member requisition to the full Cabinet, under the Council’s procedural rules.

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No single member items were requisitioned to Cabinet.


Matters Referred by Policy Development and Scrutiny Bodies

This is a standing agenda item (Constitution rule 3.3.14) for matters referred by Policy Development and Scrutiny bodies.  The Chair of the relevant Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel will have the right to attend and to introduce the Panel’s recommendations to Cabinet.

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No matters were referred by Policy Development and Scrutiny Panels.  Cllr Vic Pritchard informed Cabinet that the six-month pilot system separating the Adult and Children’s Services Scrutiny work across alternate meetings has now been completed.  This has worked well and there is a now a strong argument to operate with two separate panels in the future.  This would provide capacity to effectively scrutinise the transformation programme as a number of community services are brought back in-house.


Single Member Cabinet Decisions Taken since Previous Cabinet Meeting pdf icon PDF 282 KB

To note the list of Cabinet Single Member decisions taken and published since the last Cabinet meeting (no debate).

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The Cabinet agreed to note the report.


Options for Bus Franchising in the West of England pdf icon PDF 363 KB

The report proposes that a review is undertaken by the West of England Combined Authority (as the Local Transport Authority) to thoroughly consider the opportunity offered by franchising to improve the public transport offer within the West of England.

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Cllr Sarah Warren introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation and made the following statement:


“Our bus industry in England is broken almost beyond repair. Along with other parts of the public sector: the NHS, schools and local government - this industry forms part of the very fabric of society that this government is dismantling with alarming and accelerating speed. Yet thousands of people across Bath and North East Somerset rely on buses to get about every day. For many, buses are the vital lifeline connecting them to schools, work, hospitals, shops, to new opportunities, and to each other.


For far too long, residents have been forced to contend with a bus service that’s too confusing, unstable, unreliable, and expensive. This cannot continue and we can no longer afford to accept a public transport service that leaves behind the very people who need it most.


Bus services were deregulated by the Thatcher government in the 1980s, leaving services organised on a commercial, free market basis, and operators (more-or-less uniquely in the developed world) in full control of which services they will run, the fares they will charge, and the vehicles they will use. This has resulted in an uncoordinated network with a confusing array of ticketing options. Councils watch, impotent, as profitable routes are flooded with buses, leaving other areas at risk of becoming public transport “deserts,” with no alternative to the private car.


For public transport to be a viable option for our communities it needs to be frequent, reliable, fast, affordable, accessible, safe, comfortable, and go where people want to go. However, widespread market failure across the industry has led to rapidly increasing subsidy by local authorities of unprofitable but “socially necessary” services (which are no longer permitted cross subsidy from profitable routes). And this at a time when council income is falling. Following covid, we have seen this culminate in a near total collapse in the most socially important bus services across much of the country, including here the West of England.


With transport currently accounting for 29 per cent of carbon emissions in the Bath and North East Somerset area, and buses a vital lifeline for communities, we are committed to enabling more people to travel by bus. Using the powers that devolution has given us, we want to build an integrated transport system that’s faster, cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable.


This starts by taking back control of our buses to give us (rather than the private operators) greater control over fares, routes, vehicle specification and timetables. That way, we can ensure buses integrate better with other modes of transport and offer simpler and more convenient ticketing.


In the Bus Back Better Strategy of 2021, the Government set out its support for

Local Transport Authorities to access franchising powers as a way of rapidly delivering improvements for passengers. A franchise system would effectively mean that every bus service is paid for by the combined authority, who would in turn receive the income from fares, and they  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78.


Climate Annual Report and Ecological Emergency Action Plan pdf icon PDF 570 KB

Cabinet is asked to note the positive progress and achievements over the last year on implementation of the Council’s Climate Strategy.  Members are also asked to approve the Climate Annual Report and the new Ecological Emergency Action Plan, before submission of the report package to full Council on 16 March 2023.

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Cllr Sarah Warren introduced the report, moved the officer recommendations and made the following statement:

“Exactly four years ago in March 2019, Bath and North East Somerset Council declared a climate emergency, pledging to provide the leadership for the district to reach net zero by 2030. Since that evening, we have seen an increase in global atmospheric carbon dioxide by around 8ppm from 412 to 420, bearing in mind that scientists consider the safe level for human civilisation to be 350.


And local weather events over the last year, like last summer’s record-breaking heatwave which saw UK temperatures above 40oC for the first time ever, have re-emphasised the importance of this declaration. We can now all see the damage being done with our own eyes, telling us we must maintain our urgency for greater and faster action.


B&NES also declared an ecological emergency in 2020, with the objective of being “nature positive” by 2030. Scientists estimate that the world's biodiversity is now just 75% intact, significantly below the 90% threshold scientists consider safe, with the UK languishing in the bottom 10% of countries for biodiversity.


Firstly, Cabinet, we are being asked this evening to note progress against our climate strategy over the last year. We are also asked to note the Climate Action Plan and route map, our updated Climate Strategy. Over that period, the pace of delivery has stepped up substantially with the creation of the Green Transformation Team and filling of a number of new posts.


Of all our many achievements, the one of which we should probably be most proud, is the adoption of our local plan partial update last month, making us the first Council in the UK to require net zero carbon in new build housing. We are also at the leading edge of councils in requiring 10% biodiversity net gain for developments – a year before this becomes mandated nationally.


Installed solar PV in B&NES has doubled in the last four years, assisted by the council’s participation in the West of England Combined Authority’s Solar Together scheme; we’ve installed solar PV on council buildings; and we’re working with the West of England Combined Authority on their retrofit accelerator to support householders in making their existing homes more energy efficient.


On transport, we’ve published our Journey to Net Zero strategy; established our new Journey to Net Zero transport stakeholder forum to hear from transport campaigners; built new safe walking / wheeling / cycle routes and published plans for more; we are progressing our 15 liveable neighbourhoods; brought in a bike hangar trial; and opened electric vehicle charge points. And we have plans for much more.


On nature we are caring for 80 hectares of woodland and 100 grassland sites, as well as creating 12 new flower-rich meadows through Bathscape; securing funding to create nature-rich areas across 34 hectares of green space Somer Valley; and changing management practices across 32 hectares of our parks and green spaces to benefit pollinators through  ...  view the full minutes text for item 79.


Joint Community Safety Plan pdf icon PDF 1 MB

The report sets out the current position on the Council’s draft Joint Community Safety Plan for consideration and feedback.

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Cllr Dine Romero introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation and made the following statement:


“Overall B&NES is considered a safe place this is reflected in the feedback Avon & Somerset Police received from local communities. But like much of the country there have been challenges, including directly and indirectly the consequences of the pandemic as well as vicariously of other global events. This is picked up in the work of the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) which is targeting efforts on early trauma informed intervention supporting those children and young people most at risk of being involved in crime.


In 2022 12k recorded crimes which is a 15% increase on the previous year however anti-social behaviour reduced by 11.6% 380 fewer reports. Generally, crime and demand in police is returning to pre pandemic levels.


The Council, Avon & Somerset Police and office of the Police & Crime Commissioner have a clear shared aim which is to take every opportunity to protect and promote safer communities.


This plan focuses on joint working which very much fits with the way we in B&NES fulfil our statutory requirements with one board combining the functions of the local safeguarding children board, the adult board and the responsible authorities group.


The plan identifies key shared priorities and issues and shows how all partners will work together over the next 3 years to protect vulnerable people, prevent crime and build strong resilient communities.


This plan serves as both the community safety plan and local police and crime plan for B&NES. The overarching priorities are to protect vulnerable people from harm and to strengthen local communities and do improve outcomes for local people. “


Cllr Alison Born seconded the motion and made the following statement:


“One of the most striking elements of this report is the recognition of the extent of funding cuts across public services and the impact that has on crime and community safety.


As services have reduced and as crimes have become more complex, the need for agencies to work together and to pool resources and intelligence has never been greater and the B&NES approach to community safety supports that partnership approach. This plan recognises the particular needs of vulnerable people whilst also seeking to prevent crime and to support our communities, helping our residents to feel safe.


I commend the work of the community safety partnership and support the adoption of this report.”



RESOLVED (unanimously):


To agree the Joint Community Safety Plan and to recommend it for adoption at Council.


Heritage Services Business Plan 2023-2028 pdf icon PDF 170 KB

The report introduces the Heritage Services Business Plan for approval.  The Plan sets out the strategy to rebuild visitor numbers and financial performance on a sustainable basis, whilst maintaining the high standards of visitor experience conservation and presentation that underpin commercial success.

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Cllr Kevin Guy introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation and made the following statement:


“I am very happy to propose the Heritage Services Business Plan for 2023 to 28. This report is the annual update to a rolling five-year plan, and it comes at a very positive and exciting time for the Heritage Services team.


I say positive as we are seeing a significant improvement in visitor numbers at the Roman Baths, following the shock of the pandemic. It’s very pleasing to see visitor numbers returning to around two thirds of pre-pandemic levels. This is higher than anticipated and spending in the Pump Rooms and Heritage Services’ shops over the past year has also increased. These figures may be driven by recovering international tourism and domestic ‘staycations’.


The report suggests we can expect to see a return to pre-pandemic visitor levels from 2025 – subject to the overall economic situation.


I welcome the ongoing projects to further improve the visitor offer at the Roman Baths and Clore Learning Centre, including an updated audio tour, a revised Audience Development Plan and additional investment in conservation activities.


We also have a lot of detail in the report about exciting projects being led by Heritage Services.


The new Fashion Museum is clearly the highest profile of these projects.

Despite the disappointment of not receiving Levelling Up Funding, this council and this administration are fully committed to the Re-Fashioning Bath Project. The process of delivering the Levelling Up Fund bid demonstrated the inherent economic and societal benefits of the scheme, which will be of importance going forwards.


We have already secured the Fashion Museum’s new home. The Old Post Office will be a fitting home for one of the world’s greatest museum collections and will mean a wider range of people can access and engage with the collection in a more modern, prominent, and flexible location.


Later this evening we’ll hear more from Cllr Roper about ‘meanwhile uses’ for the Old Post Office spaces and I note the Fashion Museum collection is now being protected at a high spec and secure storage facility owned by Dents glovemakers on the outskirts of Warminster. We are working closely with Bath Spa University on plans for the Fashion Collection Archive at Locksbrook.


We have a fantastic team in place to deliver the project, and I was very pleased to meet the new lead last month – Sophie McKinlay has joined us from the V and A Dundee.


Sophie joins a Heritage Services team with a solid track record of raising capital funding and delivering major capital projects, as demonstrated by the successful recent Archway project. Resources – from the West of England Combined Authority – are in place to develop a full vision, business case and funding strategy over the coming financial year. So, we can have the utmost confidence that the Fashion Museum will reopen in 4 or 5 years and will form the centrepiece of a new fashion destination in the Milson Quarter.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 81.


Quarter 3 Corporate Strategic Performance report 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 308 KB

The report updates Cabinet on the progress made against a key set of strategic performance measures which assess progress on delivering the Corporate Strategy and key aspects of services delivery.

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Cllr Richard Samuel introduced the report and moved the officer recommendation.  He stressed the importance of receiving regular reports on performance and to connect this with what the Council is doing in terms of finance.  The report provides a spotlight on performance which enables the Council to improve. 


Cllr Kevin Guy seconded the motion and stated that he was very pleased that the Council has implemented this new system for tracking progress against its corporate strategy, this is an important aspect of improving transparency and a good opportunity to highlight achievements.


He was very pleased to see the continuing engagement with residents through the Voicebox survey and the indication that 84% of residents are happy with the local area as a place to live and 59% are satisfied with the Council.


Cllr Tom Davies noted that this was Cllr Samuel’s last Cabinet meeting.  He thanked Cllr Samuel for his hard work and range of knowledge relating to his portfolio. 


The Cabinet then unanimously passed a vote of thanks to Cllr Samuel in appreciation of all his work over the last four years.


RESOLVED (unanimously):


To note progress on the delivery of key aspects of the Council’s service delivery, details of which are highlighted in section 3.6 and Annex 1 of the report.


Milsom Quarter Update pdf icon PDF 282 KB

The report raises two issues regarding the Milsom Quarter Masterplan delivery – the King Edwards School Building and the Old Post Office meanwhile uses.

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Cllr Mark Roper introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation and made the following statement:

“This paper covers two topics relating to the Milsom Quarter project – the Post Office and the Old King Edwards School building – iconic properties in the city centre that all Bath residents know well - and many have watched and wandered at the sad state of the latter for far too long.


The Post Office conversion to the new and exciting Fashion Museum is a work in progress and there are solid plans being developed to raise the finance needed to create a fabulous new asset for our city. Proposal 3 in this paper delegates the decision on meanwhile uses for the Post Office whilst that plan is implemented – giving officers the ability to make quick decisions on short term lets and other usage for the building, raising revenue for the museum and offering local organizations the opportunity to, for example, run art exhibitions or pop-up sales by local makers – similar to No 11 New Bond Street, which has been hugely successful. Incidentally colleagues may like to know that we will shortly be moving No 11 to a unit next door to the Post Office – because the demand for retail property in the centre is such that we need to release it to the open market- we are running out of stock of shops! The current vacancy rate in the centre is around 3% compared to a national rate of over 10% and footfall in the centre is nearly at 2019 levels – despite what you may read on some dubious Twitter feeds.


Proposal 1 and 2 are the follow up to work requested by this Cabinet last autumn where we asked for a workable solution to the long-term thorn in the side of our city that is the old King Edward School building. This architecturally important handsome property has sat empty for nearly 40 years. It is at risk. Visual inspections of the exterior show a deterioration in its condition. The paper outlines a methodology for the Council to help bring the old school back to its former glory. We can do this by our preferred route of working with the owner Samuel Smiths Brewery – and yet again I appeal to them to engage with us - but there are several other options available to us outlined in section 3.3 – and if all else were to fail then ultimately there is the last resort of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). That however would be our least favoured option – and in effect a failure by the owner and the Council - and would be in no-one’s interest – apart from our respective lawyers. We know that there was a very similar situation in Bristol – and Samuel Smiths Brewery and Bristol City Council negotiated - and got the building back into use. We would be delighted to do that with you Samuel Smiths.


The recommendations in section 3.4  ...  view the full minutes text for item 83.