September has been an informative month for me about what is happening in our communities and what concerns people have, as I attended five Area Forums across the district. The forums, which bring public services, local organisations and the community together and help us deliver for local residents, all had different themes including the climate emergency, meeting our young people and a community showcase on sustainability. In return I was able to give each forum an update on our council priorities and how people might help us determine how services are designed, funded and run. There will be further forum meetings during November which will all focus on addressing the climate emergency.
The closure of Milsom Street for the ‘Love Our High Streets’ event on 21-22 September saw one of the busiest weekends for the traders in the street this year. It was wonderful to see people enjoying the street traffic-free and to hear many positive comments from businesses and residents in support of future closures. I would like to thank the partners involved for their support in making the event a success.
Our car-free plans continue at Kingsmead Square, where we have begun consulting the public on restricting vehicles daily to promote cycling and walking and reduce air pollution. We are also championing Union Street, where we have launched the first phase of our project to improve the environment and boost footfall with our street furniture, new planting and branded market stalls pilot.
We have sent postcards to all homes and businesses across Bath & North East Somerset inviting everyone to have their say on final plans for Bath’s clean air zone (CAZ). The consultation is open until 20 October and highlights further extensions to the zone’s boundary and proposals to restrict traffic flow into Queen Square – a measure that enables private cars to be exempt from charges.
At the beginning of September, Council Chair Eleanor Jackson and I launched the annual Community Awards to find the unsung heroes in our communities. These awards recognise inspiring people who have made an exceptional contribution to making Bath & North East Somerset the best place to live, work and visit. Nominations are open until 20 December and can be made by following this link www.bathnes.gov.uk/communityawards
At the beginning of October I am looking forward to welcoming the new chief executive we have appointed, Will Godfrey, who joins us from Newport City Council. Will’s experience will help us meet the challenges our council will face over the next few years. We wish our outgoing chief executive, Ashley Ayre, the very best in his retirement.
Next month I will have an update on our climate emergency action plan after it has been considered by full Council in mid-October. After that we will ask for residents’ support and participation for the larger system changes that are needed to tackle carbon emissions.