I was honoured on 11th July to underline our commitment to transport, housing, the climate emergency and listening to residents in speech to the first public meeting of the new cabinet. I explained that we want to give people a voice and be open and transparent, so we are changing the culture of the decision making process. Not only have we created a specific cabinet portfolio for tackling the climate emergency, but we’ve started evaluating the climate change impact of all our decisions. We’re also bringing a range of expertise and perspective into the cabinet by allowing roles to be job-shared.
We are making good progress on the development of the first Climate Emergency Action Plan. We will soon have more detail on the area’s carbon footprint, provide the next steps to our 2030 goal, and take a first look at emissions. We will be launching a Climate Emergency Partnership in September to provide the leadership and drive to make things happen quickly. The first plan will be ready to go to October Council for approval, with engagement across business and the community - including a Citizens’ Assembly. This is when we will need your support and participation.
I am calling for a supercharged green economy that promotes our region as an exemplar of tackling climate emergency, so I was delighted to be at the launch of the Great Western Powerhouse. I welcome this opportunity to work with key partners in some of our neighbouring authorities in the West and Wales to explore the powerhouse idea. Working together on this could help secure significant investment to make a real impact on the climate emergency.
On 19th July I attended the committee meeting of West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and was pleased to have encouraged my colleagues to follow in the footsteps of its constituent authorities in declaring a climate emergency – something our council did in March this year.
Our ambitious scheme to develop Bath Quays North as a new and vibrant quarter for the city’s flourishing businesses has taken a major step forward, with the appointment of Legal and General to deliver the project. The contract will see new offices with high environmental standards boost business and job opportunities in Bath and the wider region. There will also be new homes, including affordable housing. Bath is ready to embrace this opportunity to contribute to strong economy and growth and show that the city is open for business. More news on the development can be found here: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/latestnews/contract-signed-deliver-bath%E2%80%99s-most-significant-redevelopment-generation
Work has now started on the Roman Baths Learning Centre and World Heritage Centre. Councillor Paul Crossley and I met the developers, Beard, at the start of this ambitious project that will deliver for local residents with new opportunities for community groups and learning activities. It will be exciting for citizens and visitors alike when parts of the Roman Baths are revealed to us for the very first time.
Another benefit to our community this month has been the funding of a new community café at Bath City Farm. A £125,000 award from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Neighbourhood Fund will mean the farm can expand its essential work to prevent mental health issues, support families and provide training programmes. The café is due to be completed next spring.
I was also delighted to sign off a further award from the same fund to another project focusing on prevention and promoting health and wellbeing – an expansion of the KiActive Health Move More project into areas where people live near new residential developments.
I have been pleased to champion our greener communities this month with the excellent news that five of Bath’s parks have been awarded Green Flags. The awards recognise the very best of green spaces across the country.
Green energy was also at the forefront when I joined a mass sign-up for our pool cars here at the council - a leading example of how together we can make a tangible contribution to the Clean Air Zone. I joined other councillors and staff in signing up to our electric car sharing scheme to help reduce emissions from business travel.
In my last blog, I promised to feed back to you on the Local Government Conference on 2nd – 4th July in Bournemouth, the biggest event in the local government calendar which brings together representatives from Councils across the country. I found it a crucial opportunity to share best practice with 1,400 other members of local authorities, discussing key priorities such as adult and children's social care, housing and homelessness and the financial challenges facing local government. An important step forward was made when the Local Government Association – the ‘parliament of local government’ - voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency.
Working in partnership was again highlighted when the new cabinet members and I attended the Parish Liaison meeting on 24th July, where we discussed issues of common interest with our parish councils, such as rural transport and the environment.
It has been a busy month – I look forward to bringing you more developments next time.