Agenda item


Cllr Dine Romero and other Cabinet Members will give an update.


Aurora Loi, Electoral Services Manager, will give an update on the WECA Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner elections.


(40 minutes)


(a)  Cllr Dine Romero – Council Leader


Covid 19 Update - The Covid-19 infection rate in the B&NES area has now reduced to 20 per 100,000.  The vaccination programme is going very well and most people in the high-risk category groups have now been vaccinated.  This area has not experienced much vaccine-hesitancy.  Testing centres have also been established across the district.


To keep up to date with the latest, local news on Covid; vaccinations and other important information, people can sign up to receive the Council’s e-newsletter and encourage others, with access to the internet, to do the same – the link is here:


The Council will take any action necessary to address any hesitancy in taking the second dose of the vaccine as it is important that people have both doses.


Settled Status for EU Nationals - Parish Councils were asked to remind any EU nationals in their areas to ensure that they apply for settled status before the deadline date of 30 June 2021.  Further details can be found on the Government website using the following link


Virtual Meetings – B&NES Council is disappointed that the Government has not yet taken action to continue the ability to hold virtual meetings, despite widespread lobbying from across the country.  The Council will be considering a motion at its meeting on 25 March to reiterate the cross-party support for this.  The Council would like to retain the option to hold virtual meetings where appropriate, but officers are working on contingency plans to enable face-to-face meetings to take place.


Death of a Senior National Figure - The Council has been advised by the Government and Lord Lieutenant’s office that many aspects of the protocol will be suspended whilst we deal with the national pandemic.  Details of the current protocol are attached as Appendix 1 to these minutes.


Community Contribution Fund – The Community Contribution Fund is a pilot scheme that offers residents the chance to pay into a good causes fund to help local charity, community and voluntary groups.  This fund is not intended to replace the Ward Councillor Empowerment Fund.  Provision was made in the Council’s budget for the continuation of the Ward Councillor empowerment fund which provides £1,000 per Councillor for 2021/22.  As before, ward councillors in parished areas will be encouraged to work closely with parishes on identifying projects that would benefit from this support.


A letter has been sent to residents with their council tax bill, inviting them to make a voluntary contribution to the fund.  There is also a page on the council’s website about the fund, with a link to enable contributions to be made online.


Any contribution will be separate from residents’ Council Tax, and it is possible to contribute more than once.  The minimum is £5 and there is no maximum.


The scheme will be administered by the council, but funds generated will not be used to supplement council services.  Every penny will be used to fund local projects.


As this is a pilot and there are many unknowns, including how much funding might be generated, this is being kept as simple as possible.  It means that residents contributing will not be able to request that their money is spent on a specific project or in a particular geographic area.  To date there has been a very position response and, as of last Friday 19 March, £12,807 had been generated. 


The Council hopes to be able to open the fund to applications in the Autumn.  Any charity, voluntary or community organisation that supports residents of Bath and North East Somerset will be able to apply but priority will be given to projects that benefit the whole district.  At the end of the first year, the Council will consult with residents and organisations on whether to continue the scheme in the future.


The Leader agreed to find out whether there will be a system in place to monitor the amount of money raised.


(b)  Cllr Sarah Warren – Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhood Services


Cllr Warren gave an update regarding a number of initiatives that the Council has put in place to tackle the climate emergency as part of its day to day business including:


·  Liveable Neighbourhoods

·  Clean Air Zone

·  Green Affordable Warmth Grant

·  Council Care Home Energy Upgrade

·  Community Empowerment Fund

·  Community Solar Project for medium to large roofs

·  Great British Spring Clean – 28 May to 13 June

·  List of Parishes who have declared a Climate Emergency


Further details can be found in the briefing note attached as Appendix 2 to these minutes.


(c)  Aurora Loi – Electoral Services Manager


Aurora Loi, Electoral Services Manager, gave an update regarding the forthcoming elections on Thursday 6 May. 


·  Elections will take place to appoint a Police and Crime Commissioner (postponed from last year) and the WECA Mayor.

·  There will also be local referendums in the Freshford and Limpley Stoke area and Stanton Drew.

·  The Notice of Election has been published and the poll will run, as usual, from 7am to 10pm.  There will be no change to the voting process.

·  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic additional measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of all those involved in the election process.

·  Government guidance has advised that schools should not be used as polling stations to ensure that pupils can attend school on election day.  This means that some polling stations will be in different locations this year.  The Council is working with public health, emergency planning and health and safety officers.

·  Poll cards have been sent out including information explaining the measures to be taken at polling stations to keep everyone safe.  This includes the use of hand sanitiser, face-coverings and social distancing.  Additional roles will be required, there will be marshalls to control numbers admitted to the polling stations and safety officers to sanitise polling booths and other equipment.  People will be asked to bring their own pens with them if possible.

·  A risk assessment will be carried out at each polling station and, if necessary, this will include a site visit by officers.

·  People are also being advised of alternative ways that they can vote if they do not wish to attend a polling station, such as postal or proxy voting.  New legislation will allow an emergency proxy if required due to the need to self-isolate.

·  There is a public engagement strategy in place for the elections.

·  The count will take place at the Bath University Sports Hall.  The verification of ballot papers for the Police and Crime Commissioner and for the WECA election will take place on Thursday 6 May from 10pm.  The count will then take place on Friday 7 May.  The WECA count will take place on Saturday 8 May and the local referendum counts will take place on Sunday 9 May.

·  As expected, there has been an increased take-up of postal votes.