A number of key decisions were made at the full Council meeting on Thursday night, November 10. The Council endorsed the recommendations of an independent panel in awarding a contract to Virgin Care to deliver community health and care services in our area. The panel which assessed the bids and made the recommendation comprised of GPs, clinicians, officers, carers and – crucially – local residents who use our care services. A rigorous process was undertaken in reaching this decision, and will mean that in the years ahead residents can look forward to a more joined-up and personalised service which focuses firmly on prevention and supporting people to maintain their independence. You can see the discussion about this on the webcast archive
There was also some really good news for our local economy, with plans to expand the Bath and Somer Valley Enterprise Zone. This will be a major boost for our area, offering more opportunities for business to relocate and grow, helping to create more homes and jobs in the Somer Valley, and demonstrating our commitment to creating new jobs and spreading prosperity throughout the Bath and North East Somerset area.
The Council also agreed to continue investing in tourism promotion by agreeing to take over sole ownership of Bath Tourism Plus, which the Council previously held a 50% stake in, thereby providing a more stable future for the organisation. Bath Tourism Plus will continue to operate as a separate, arms-length company, allowing us to continue to work with the private sector and local organisations to promote our area nationally and globally. Tourism generates £430m for the local economy, supporting 9,400 jobs so this is a really positive move for our local economy. (LINK to news story)
As the weather turns colder we’ve been busy preparing for winter. 1,300 tonnes of salt are ready for spreading by the Council’s nine-strong fleet of gritting vehicles, which have been serviced and tested ready for action. Our teams have been out in the community refilling the 400 plus grit bins at the side of the road too. There’s a lot of information on our website and during severe winter weather we will also communicate via twitter .
This week I had the privilege of meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, when he visited Bath. It was an honour to welcome him to our city and to The Guildhall, His itinerary included a visit to Bath Abbey where he found out more about Footprint, a £19.3 million project to secure the Abbey for future generations.
Along with the Council Cabinet, I also met the Chief Constable of Avon & Somerset Police, Andy Marsh, in Keynsham this week. It was very encouraging to hear about his forward-thinking approach to local issues, and we talked about how we can work together to the benefit of local residents.
We celebrated the Bath in Bloom award-winners at a reception hosted by the Mayor, and I also attended the Bath Chronicle Sports Awards which recognise sporting excellence and dedication. I was delighted to present an award to the Sports Personality of the Year, Emily Diamond, part of the GB relay team that took bronze at Rio 2016. It was also an honour to meet a real All Black, Todd Blackadder, now Bath Rugby’s Director of Rugby.
I will be attending a number of services on Remembrance Sunday, to pay tribute to those injured or killed in wars. Chief Executive Ashley Ayre and I will join members of the Royal British Legion for a service of remembrance at Bath’s war memorial at the entrance to Royal Victoria Park from 10.30am, and will lay a wreath on behalf of the Council. Later in the day Cllr Martin Veal and I will be attending the Remembrance Service at Bath Abbey. Our chairman and vice chairman will be attending services across the area including Keynsham, Radstock and Midsomer Norton.
PHOTO CREDIT PAUL GILLIS