Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Open letter

Dear Neighbours, Friends and Supporters.

As promised, I am now on behalf of Newbridge Matters, able to advise you further concerning the 248 space park and ride extension on the donkey field at Newbridge.

Last Wednesday 15th January 2014. I saw that traffic cones and yellow markings had been placed in the existing car park, where I assume the Council wish the new road to be driven through to the donkey field, for the new car park.

I give below details of the actions we have taken and the present position regarding the donkey field car park.

There is one outstanding item concerning the footpath adjoining the south eastern side of the donkey field, which has yet to be resolved.  It is possible that we may advise our Lawyer in London to take this matter up with B&NES Council, but even if this is done, it is likely to only cause a delay in the car park construction and not a complete cancellation of same.

As promised, we have done everything possible to try and prevent this car park from being constructed.

After the 248 space car park planning application was approved by the Development Control Committee [DCC] on 20th November 2013, our Lawyer in London submitted a 20 page Letter Before Claim, outlining the flaws in the Council's handling of the planning application, dated 17th December 2013 to B&NES Council.  This letter was the first stage in the process for consideration of a judicial review [JR] to be carried out by a High Court Judge. A judicial review looks only at the legalities of the process rather than the merits of the extension.

The overall cost of a JR is many thousands of pounds, Barristers’ fees being hundreds of pounds an hour, so it was thought prudent to obtain further legal advice as to the chances of a Judge ruling in our favour, in that B&NES had not acted in an appropriate manner, and that costs would be awarded against B&NES Council.

Our lawyer sought counsel from a Barrister and the advice received indicated that we may not win the case; even though they considered inadequate information had been submitted on which the decision to 'approve' had been based. Even if we won the case, B&NES could then re-apply and grant themselves Planning Permission again.

After due consideration, it was thought that although we abhorred the way in which this car park had received planning approval, we could not run the risk of being involved with paying costs of such magnitude, and therefore our Lawyer advised B&NES Council that the JR would not proceed.

Apart from the matter concerning the footpath adjoining the south eastern boundary of the donkey field referred to above, it would seem that there is nothing to prevent the construction of the car park, subject to the Council’s approval of further details yet to be submitted to them, and as required under the Conditions attached to the approval, but upon which we will not be permitted to comment upon.

However, we are actively obtaining information concerning flooding of the area, including the maximum top water levels of the nearby river Avon, as the Council’s consultants advised them that the area will flood under certain conditions, advice which they appear to have ignored.

The planning approval of the car park is subject to many Conditions.  Under no. 3, “a detailed surface water drainage scheme for the site” has to be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.  In view of the importance of flooding, our Lawyer requested, on our behalf, to be allowed to see and comment upon any ‘scheme’ submitted, but we have been advised by them, that such intervention will not be permitted on this or any other ‘schemes’ submitted to them for approval, in compliance with the Conditions attached to the Planning Approval.  The Council have advised us that “information will be available to view on the Council’s website, as and when these details are submitted.”

We have not received any information from the Council or its Contractor as to when work will commence on site.  In view of the lack of any information concerning the start of works in January 2013, when we were able to stop the work from proceeding due to finding that the ‘assumed’ planning permission was not valid, we do not hold out much hope that further information will be forthcoming.

Armed with the Conditions of approval, we will endeavour to ensure that they are adhered to, but as access to the site during the  construction period may well be with-held, this may prove difficult.

Your support and that of fellow Neighbours, Friends and Supporters is very much appreciated, without which we would not have had the will to continue this fight for so many years, against this very ill conceived development.

I hope this summary of events has brought you up to date with the position we now face, but if you think I can help further, please contact us preferably by e-mail.

With very best wishes for 2014 and good health to you all.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Value for money?

Further to our discovery that work on the Newbridge Park and Ride extension had started without valid planning consent we thought we would look a little further into the financial side of this proposal. We contacted the most helpful Department for Transport who told us:

“The Department is providing £10.958m of funding for a scheme costing a total of £26.898m.  That funding is provided as a contribution to the scheme as a whole and not for any specific elements of the scheme.

So far we have paid out £3.2m and have received a request for a further £2.4m. The current profile of payments suggests that by the end of this financial year March 2013 we will have received claims from BANES for some £9.2m of our funding.”

It would appear that this money has been paid out although the proper planning permission was not in place. One of the DfT’s criteria for funding projects is that they are ‘value for money’. We have submitted a freedom of information request as to how much B&NES Council has spent to date on the Newbridge Park & Ride extension, and will share their answer with you once we receive it. We do know that the purchase of the donkey field cost £90,000, which alone would mean each space in the new extension would cost £360.

Seemingly the 250 space extension is not ‘value for money’ when a pot of paint could be used to mark out the existing car park to enlarge that by 100 spaces!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Momentous achievement by Newbridge residents!

Apologies for the delay in posting, however, be assured much has been going on behind the scenes and at last we have won a major victory in the fight to stop the extension of the Newbridge park and ride. 

On behalf of local residents Newbridge Matters appointed a legal team to investigate this part of the ill conceived BTP. In October 2012 our legal representation wrote to B&NES Council requesting copies of the planning consent and the pre-commencement conditions. After regular reminders in mid-December 2012 B&NES Council conceded that some of the pre-commencement conditions had not been formally discharged. The Council also confirmed that the planning permission had expired.

Disappointingly, B&NES Council has shown a blatant disregard for the proper procedures and breached planning control by starting work on the site.

We have informed the Department of Transport of the situation. They may well feel they have been misled too.

Thank you for all your support and of course we will keep you informed of any updates.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Free running?

Readers may well already be aware by Public Notice published in The Bath Chronicle newspaper, that B&NES Council invited residents to comment on the above.

We have now been advised that the Consultation has been CANCELLED for the time being.

However, as the Consultation may be resurrected, readers may wish to see what was proposed and prepare any comments for submission at a later date.  Full details of the Orders were published on page 87 of The Chronicle newspaper dated 26th January 2012.

Details of the Consultation Documents were obtained from the Council's website, but, they have now been removed, due no doubt to the cancellation of the Consultation.  Other information is still available on this site, to link to this please click here.

We have already spent some time investigating how the Orders would have affected users of the Newbridge Village Green and, we give below a brief resume of same.

Order 1
The Fouling of Land by Dogs [Bath and North East Somerset] Order 2012.

This Order would have applied to the Newbridge Meadows Village Green.
All dog faeces to be removed by person in charge of a dog.

Order 2
The Dogs on Leads [Bath and North East Somerset] Order 2012.
Would not have applied to the Newbridge Meadows Village Green -  Area not shown in the Schedule.

Order 3
The Dogs on Leads by Direction [Bath and North East Somerset] Order 2012.

This Order would have applied to the Newbridge Meadows Village Green.

It will be an Offence for any person in charge of a Dog to fail to put and keep the Dog on a Lead of not more than 4 metres in length, when directed to do so by an authorised officer of the Council……….

The Registration of the Newbridge Meadows Village Green was obtained partly on the fact that for many generations people have been able to exercise their Dogs by letting them have free run of the area without the use of a Lead.

Having just won the right to continue exercising Dogs in this manner by way of the Registration of the area as a Village Green, any restriction by way of Leads would not satisfy the Registration of the area.

This Order should not apply to the Village Green but, by the original proposed Order, it would do so.

Order 4
The Dogs Exclusion [Bath and North East Somerset] Order 2012.

This Order would not have applied to the Newbridge Meadows Village Green  -  not shown in the schedule.

Order 5
The Dogs Specified Maximum [Bath and North East Somerset] Order 2012.

This Order would have applied to the Newbridge Meadows Village Green.
It will be an Offence for any person in charge of more than six dogs.

This information was obtained from the Council’s website (please see link above) and, has been confirmed as correct by the Council’s Senior Environmental Health Officer.

The closing time and date for making representations to the Dog Control Orders department, would have been midnight on the 23rd February 2012 but, as stated above, the consultation has been CANCELLED, due we understand to the vast number of objections to the Orders, already received by the Council.

We will of course advise you further should the Consultation be reinstated. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Air quality management changes...

Readers may well already be aware that B&NES Council has invited residents to comment on the above.

Full details of the Consultation Documents may be obtained through this link.

A member of the Newbridge Matters team has sent the following letter to the B&NES Council and, we urge readers to consider the consultation documents and submit their comments.

You will see from the letter that only one of the many aspects of the consultation has been covered, that of providing air pollution monitoring equipment on sites not already covered.  This applies to the present Park and Ride Car Park here in Newbridge.
Any comments must be submitted by 31st January 2012 to:
Bath and North East Somerset Council
Environmental Monitoring
Environmental Services

Letter sent by a member of our team referred to above:
Consultation on Changes to the Bath Air Quality Management Area
7th    January 2012
The vast amount of information you have provided in your Consultation Documents takes a considerable amount of time to read and comprehend and, so far I have been unable to complete the task.
However at this stage, may I make just one point which is that from the information at present available, further air monitoring action must be taken.
It would seem that the present levels of air pollution at sites not at present monitored, are either not known at all or, values have been obtained from ‘modelling’, these being considered insignificant compared with present day knowledge of the levels of air pollution causing problems with the health of various sections of the population.

I am sure you would agree, that had we known more about air pollution at the time the Royal Victoria Park Children’s Play Area was constructed immediately adjoining the A4 Upper Bristol Road here in Bath, it would not have been sited in this position.  I appreciate the large cost that would be involved in moving the play equipment to a much more suitable site, possibly within the park but, surely human life cannot be measured in terms of money.  I request that very serious thought be given to re-siting this play area, which is used by many thousands of young children every year, not only from Bath but from outlying areas, without delay.

May I suggest that monitoring stations be set up at all schools and their playing fields, hospitals, park and ride car parks and other commercial locations where large numbers of vehicles congregate within the B&NES area, so that definite information may be made available on air pollution levels.
It may well be possible to encourage those responsible for these sites to receive detailed information from the Council on the method of collecting this pollution information and, for them to forward the samples obtained to you.

As far as schools are concerned, this method of collecting the required information could well be included within the normal school curriculum, making children aware of the dangers of air pollution.  This could be done in a similar way to that which many of them already provide weather information to the National Weather Bureau but, in this case the samples would be returned to you for analysis.

Such a system would then provide real data on many of these additional sites at no additional cost to the Council, other than the initial cost of providing the sampling equipment and instruction on the retrieval of the samples.
I hope that these initial comments will be taken into consideration when you assess the results of your consultation period, which ends on 31st January 2012.

- - - - - - - - - -

We hope readers will respond to the Consultation Documents with their own views on this very important issue.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

In the money!

Readers will no doubt be aware from press reports and BBC TV News bulletins, that the Government has approved the revised Bath Transport Package submitted to the Department for Transport [DfT], by B&NES Council.

This revised Package includes a 250 space extension to the park and ride at Newbridge the exact position of which is still a mystery, despite repeated requests over the last few months for information.

We have made numerous enquiries as to its location without success, being advised that the information was not available until the Newbridge Meadows Village Green application had been settled.

The Village Green has now been approved by B&NES and the area registered as a Village Green, details being shown in The Commons Register.

Both our Ward Councillors, Cllr Caroline Roberts and Cllr Loraine Morgan Brinkhurst, together with our MP the Rt Hon Don Foster, have stated on many occasions, that the car park site originally proposed north of the river, was not suitable.

We are now actively engaged in drawing attention to many promises of consultation by Councillors and our MP, so that appropriate meetings are held in order to obtain a car park site acceptable to the residents of Newbridge.

We wait with breath held for the long awaited, and oft requested, details.

Royal name for Village Green?

From the previous posting, readers will be aware that the Newbridge Meadows have now been granted ‘Village Green’ status.

For those interested, the action taken following this ruling may be found in the Commons Register.

We again thank all those who have supported us in our endeavours to bring about this situation, thereby securing continued use of the Meadows for lawful sports and pastimes.

As reported in the previous posting, a request has been submitted to B&NES Council for the Meadows to be re-named ‘Queen Elizabeth II Fields’ in order to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years on the throne in 2012.

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, the Queen’s grandson, is Patron of the scheme for the ‘Queen Elizabeth II Fields’ and, we have been advised that our request has been placed before the Council’s Cabinet for consideration.

We will, of course, keep you advised as this matter proceeds.