I begin my first blog with news of an exciting devolution deal we’ve put together with our partners in the West of England.
We’re calling on the Government to back a bid that could generate an extra £2bn per annum for the economy. It’s an ambitious proposal which has at its heart the need to deliver new homes, create more jobs, and improve our area’s transport infrastructure. I believe that devolving more powers and funding to the region in this way will have a huge benefit to Bath and North East Somerset residents.
Last week I went along to a meeting of the Cultural Forum in Bath, a membership organisation comprising people working in the arts, heritage and cultural sectors. It was very useful and listening to the views of the members gave me good insight into the complexity of working within those areas. Our Council is proud to support cultural activity and our financial support for it is way above many other local authorities. I look forward to working with the forum to ensure our residents continue to have the opportunity to enjoy a cultural life
Staying with heritage, I took Ben Howlett MP on a tour around the proposed new Archway Centre on Thursday (pictured above) . I must admit that before the visit I hadn’t quite realised the scale of this project and it blew me away. The plans include a new World Heritage Centre in the old city laundry in York Street and, above it and running down Swallow Street, a new Roman Baths Learning Centre. We’ve been lucky to secure Round 1 Heritage Lottery Funding for this very impressive project which will benefit residents, visitors to the city and learning groups of all ages.
On Thursday, I met local small businesses to discuss broadband. Although the meeting was held in Bath, a lot of those present were from rural areas, in particular Midsomer Norton. It’s very clear that small businesses are facing a number of issues, and these were raised with BT at the meeting. I will continue to push for the very best possible broadband coverage for businesses and residents – it’s such an essential service.
Later that day, I went to a meeting with residents of Foxhill and Curo, to discuss redevelopment plans. It was a useful meeting where we agreed on ways of improving communications to ensure people know what’s going on and can put their views forward. We’ve now agreed to meet every month.
I’ll be Chairing our Cabinet meeting on Wednesday September 9; it’s an interesting one with decisions to be made around areas as diverse as leisure services and busking – I will update on this next week but meantime you can watch it live on the webcast.
At our full Council meeting on Thursday I will be making a statement about how we are looking to support Syrian refugees through the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme. We’re going to be working with our partners to develop a package of support for people that we can help in our area. This meeting will also be webcast.
A quick reminder that the consultation for a Park and Ride for the East of Bath is now live. This much-needed scheme will have a huge impact on traffic in and around the city, so please do take a look at the consultation page or come along to one of the events we’re organising and give us your views.
Earlier this week, the Council also announced that the petition received for an elected mayor for Bath and North East Somerset had reached the amount of valid entries legally required to begin the process for holding a referendum. You can find out more about this on our website.
On a more personal note, this weekend I’m looking forward to travelling to Scotland where my niece will be competing in the European Eventing Championships. Dani, who trained with me for four years, will be riding a former horse of mine, Smart Time. Fingers crossed for a successful weekend!