Campaigning for the positive and sustainable development of Radstock

News Archive - Page 2

[3rd November 2012]: £500,000 promised to Radstock not all it was cooked up to be

Over many months we've kept hearing that BANES had £500,000 for Radstock to spend on enhancing the town. Perhaps we were naive to think this could include extra, new money over and above what anyone could reasonable expect of their council. In a flurry of activity on 15 October, a press release appeared asking people to have their say. The closing date for this exercise is 15 November and Radstock Action Group urges everyone to respond - just in case the council later says that no-one had a view.

Victoria Hall budget melts away

BANES has put forward seven items for expenditure and many of them are certainly areas that need improvement. For example, £160,000 to 'go towards the redesign and updating of Victoria Hall to bring it up to standard'. Fine, but BANES originally promised £250,000.

Much needed road works are surely the responsibility of the Highways Department?

Of the remaining six, four are items which are normally paid for out of the Highways Budget. They are (1) to 'improve safety for people on foot who use bicycles on Frome Road' (not sure what this means) involving widening the pavement and introducing one additional crossing; (2) to widen Morley Terrace to 'provide better parking and improve access'; (3) to 'roll out a 20 mph speed limit ... Haydon Hill and Kilmersdon Road to St Nicholas School'; (4) to 'provide a pavement on the blind bend between upper and lower Clandown'. Who, by the way is going to police this new speed limit?

How about some consultation?

A fifth item is 'to update the children's play park in Writhlington and provide more opportunities for it to be used by more people'. RAG has been informed by the Writhlington Village Hall group, who wanted to put the situation straight, that they have jurisdiction for this play park and changes need to go before the Hall Committee - we gather that they had not been approached prior to the issuing of the press release.

BANES pays itself some money out of this 'new' fund

And finally, the sixth item is to give £100,000 to Radstock and Westfield Economic Forum. Most people will not even have heard of this BANES quango which is, as far as can be gathered a self-appointed group of people who, with the BANES Principal Economy Enterprise & Business Officer, Duncan Kerr, have met an unknown number of times and drawn up a draft Action Plan. Duncan Kerr came to a RAG meeting recently to talk about the draft. Whilst there appear to be some good ideas, we believe that the group lacks transparency and does not represent a wide enough range of Radstock people and businesses. It is not accountable to anyone as far as can be gleaned. In addition, it seems that Westfield is now going to get a chunk of the cash which was originally earmarked for Radstock.

You can see the full press statement at: www.bathnes.gov.uk/latestnews/£500000-radstock-–-have-your-say (Just go to 15 October), or by clicking here.

Radstock Action Group thinks all the road improvements need doing in the name of improved health and safety and should, therefore, come out of the Highways Budget as they do in any authority. BANES cannot get away with suggesting that this is new money specially for Radstock, over and above its reasonable entitlement. RAG will be submitting its comments to regen_radstock@bathnes.gov.uk and urges everyone else to do likewise. Yes we welcome any improvements to the town, but please don't suggest that we are getting half a million when the road/pavement improvements are long overdue anyway. We shall be making some alternative suggestions about how to spend the money.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon (Secretary) on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[22nd October 2012]: How would you spend £500,000 in Radstock?

Click here for full text of BANES press release

On 15 October BANES issued the following press release inviting people to comment on ways of spending £500,000 in Radstock. Radstock Action Group will be discussing this at Wednesday 24 October meeting - everyone is invited.

If you want to respond, then please note that you must do so by 15 November.


BANES asks Radstock how it would spend £500,000

Last week, BANES issued a welcome press release regarding £500,000 which is available for Radstock.

RAG is pleased to see that this may include work on the Victoria Hall but we urge everyone to have a close look at the statement and to add their own comments on how the money should be spent. A copy of the press release is available on the Radstock Action Group website.

RAG will be discussing the press release contents and adding its suggestions at our weekly meeting on Wednesday 24 October (7.30pm Methodist Church Hall) - here are some initial pointers to the ideas that might come up.

Please do come and add your own comments.

  • Good news that the children's play park in Writhlington is suggested as in need of an update
  • We welcome the continued commitment to the Victoria Hall but would be very worried to find that the total amount to be put into the Victoria Hall falls below the £250,000 already mentioned by BANES
  • Are there not budgets for road repairs and improvements which should be used for the sorts of road improvements suggested in the press release? Most of them are essential safety issues which need urgent action
  • £100K is suggested for the Radstock and Westfield Economic Development Forum - Duncan Kerr, BANES Principal Economy Enterprise & Business Officer will be at the RAG meeting on Wednesday to explain what this forum is doing and, hopefully, explain how they could use the £100K mentioned in the press release.

We urge people to have a good look at the press release and to get their views into BANES by 15 November.


[18th October 2012]: What Cllr Dixon actually said ...

In our last press release we stated that Councillor Dixon told the Parish Cluster meeting that 'following the consultation with residents, BANES are looking to move the library into the hall'. This was a direct quote from Lesley Mansell's statement in The Journal, but Cllr Dixon would like us to clarify that he did not say this. He has told Radstock Action Group that 'We have not consulted on that as yet. I wouldn't want anyone to think that we have already consulted. We are indeed though looking at whether or not the library could work as an anchor for Victoria Hall.'

Thanks to Cllr Dixon for this correction and apologies to him and to you all.

Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[14th October 2012]: Confusion reigns at BANES

Councillor Crossley please note the Jubilee Oak is not just another tree

here was an interesting exchange between Radstock BANES Councillor Eleanor Jackson and the Leader Cllr Paul Crossley at last week's Cabinet meeting. Cllr Jackson had the temerity to complain that only one Radstock Councillor (not her) had been consulted about the rumoured plans to move the Jubilee Oak. She reminded Cllr Crossley that he had made a public undertaking that if there were no houses there would be no road and that as there is no agreement on the houses, then the removal of the Jubilee Oak was premature. The response, presented with a somewhat supercilious smile from Cllr Crossley, suggested that she might be being unreasonable if she honestly expected to be consulted about the removal of a mere tree? Having said which he then said that there are set times in the calendar when you can move trees and that there is 'live' planning permission for regeneration although he did acknowledge that there has been no application for reserved matters to be considered, which means that nothing could go ahead even if the outline planning permission were found to be still 'live' int he sense of being actionable. The rest was inaudible, presumably because there are a number of contradictions in this situation.

Councillor Bellotti and Councillor Dixon please get the same story on the Victoria Hall

Meanwhile BANES got its PR wires crossed over the Victoria Hall - Councillor Bellotti, BANES Cabinet Member for Community Resources, told RAG, as reported last week, that 'the current stage is for us to prepare a report, taking the consultation responses into account' and that decisions will be made 'when we have had more time to consider all the opportunities the refurbishments offers for local services, as well as taking into account ongoing financial viability'. But in the same week, Cllr Dixon, Nathan Hartley's successor as Deputy Leader of the Council, and Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods told the Parish Cluster meeting that 'following the consultation with residents, BANES are looking to move the library into the hall'. So has a decision been made?

We just can't keep up with all this confusion.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon (Secretary) on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[8th October 2012]: BANES - tell the voters one thing and then do another - when is a policy not a policy?

Who's that looking at our Jubilee Oak?

Last week two men were spotted giving the Jubilee Oak the once over. On being approached, they explained that one of them was a tree surgeon and the other a BANES representative. When asked if they were there because the tree was going to be moved, they replied that this was not necessarily the case and that they were looking at the possibility. No decision had been made. Which is just as well. This takes us back to the assurances from Councillor Crossley that if there are no houses, there will be no road - we can only add that if there is no road, then even BANES cannot be so perverse as to continue with a half-baked plan to remove the tree from its rightful place. So when is a decision going to be made on housing? When is a planning application going to be submitted? How abut an inclusive debate about what Radstock really needs?

Of course, if Sainsbury's gets to build their megastore in Westfield, the fate of Radstock roads will be even more complicated than simply trying to incorporate one lovely oak tree in a new road scheme, but BANES hasn't got round to that one yet.

Unfortunately, this latest episode is symptomatic of BANES' approach to everything - no strategic overview, no clear plan, no consultation with the people who know what's best. There are rumours again that there is no 'live' planning application for houses so it would be extremely premature to attempt to move the Jubilee Oak. Meanwhile, the oak continues to look healthy and has had a very green summer, despite certain suggestions that it is dead. Rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

That money for the Victoria Hall?

On another front, BANES Councillor Bellotti has replied to an enquiry from RAG in which we asked him to join a RAG meeting to tell us the latest situation about the progress on the refurbishment of the Victoria Hall. He says:

"The report on Victoria Hall will be going to the November 14th Cabinet meeting when we have had more time to consider all the opportunities the refurbishment offers for local services, as well as taking into account ongoing financial viability.

The Cabinet report is still being worked on but will be in the public domain from Wednesday 7th November. I would value receiving your comments along with other Radstock residents at that time.

In preparing the Cabinet report Officers of the Council and the Cabinet have been reading all the comments made during the consultation very carefully. We are very pleased with the response we got from residents and it has been very helpful.

The current stage is for us to prepare a report, taking the consultation responses into account. As the consultation period is now closed it would not be appropriate for further meetings to take place until our report is published."

Readers will note the ominous phrase 'taking into account ongoing financial viability'. Surely we have been told repeatedly that BANES is committed to the refurbishment of the Hall and that they are going to invest the necessary money to bring this to fruition?

Is the money there or isn't it?

Time to remind the Lib Dem administration that they issued the following statement after the Cabinet decision was made to refurbish the Hall, "Victoria Hall is to be repaired and renovated for use by the community following a key vote by BANES Lib Dem Cabinet last night. A report exploring "opportunities and options to take forward for the future use of the building" was unanimously approved. Further work will now be carried out to assess the feasibility of adapting the building to offer ‘a mixed community, meeting and exhibition space’ with snooker facilities and possible relocation of the library into the building. The works, which will cost up to £250,000, will include installation of a lift to ensure disabled people can access to the first floor, safe removal of asbestos and rewiring to eliminate fire risks."

This all seems pretty unequivocal to us, so we're not impressed by the doubts that seem to be surfacing now about financing the project. The Council should remember that following a RAG 'What's Next for Radstock?' day devoted to the Victoria Hall in January of this year, many people volunteered to help to regenerate the Hall, including trying to fund raise. But BANES has never seen fit to take up these offers, nor even thank those who were prepared to give their time and energy.

When is this council going to realise that involving people in key decisions and their implementation is the best way to ensure a vibrant and healthy community - including in Radstock. And also that we all take note of their promises and will not forget.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[24th September 2012]: BANES Silence Anything but Golden

BANES Core Strategy Fiasco features in Planning and Regeneration Blog

An uncanny silence has descended on BANES over the summer. But there are no grounds for confidence that a posiitve resolution of plans for the sustainable future of Radstock are any nearer. In fact the threat remains - and it's not just Radstock residents and businesses who see that the BANES way is not always quite right.

Recently, the Inspector charged with looking at BANES Core Strategy concluded that he was unable to find it sound as the authority had not assesed requirements for housing in line with the National Planning Policy Framework.

And last week, town planning and regeneration consultant Andrew Stainton in his blog Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, comments that 'Now (BANES) have reported to members the proposed suspension of the plan with additional work required delaying the plan until 2014, at a cost of £100k. Of course the real cost is a lot higher as planning policy staff are hired to produce plans so you cannot assume a zero cost baseline but have to include two extra years of their cost in the full project costing. The report somehow implies that it would have been found sound prior to the NPPF – no the inspector said no such thing rather they took the gamble that failed that ministers had given them a nod and a wink to ignore national policy and the law .'

Time for Transparency about the NRR/BANES machine

This depressing indictment should concentrate a few minds. It comes at the same time as one RAG member put a series of questions to the BANES Major Projects Scrutiny Panel of 18 September. The questions seek to clarify who owns the Radstock Railway Land and with what conditions attached. The obvious answer is the NRR, but things may not be absolutely clear since their accounts are heavily redacted and there may be charges on the land which could have serious implications for any future plans. Although BANES has stated that it has no interest in the NRR, this is manifestly untrue since they were central to the original setting up arrangements and may yet try to determine how the land is developed. Answers to the questions are reportedly on the way. No-one should hold their breath.The NRR or any other quango-type organisation which is centrally involved in potential redevelopment of the town centre should not be able to hide behind the cloak of 'commercial sensitivity' aided an abetted by BANES.

As suggested in Andrew Stainton's succinct statement above, BANES is adept at wasting money. And yet, with or without NRR cover, they are apparently still committed to wasting even more on a road no-one wants and all the attendant problems arising from an unsustainable plan. Plus propping up an organisation (NRR) which has no office, no permanent staff, and no apparent funds - as proven by the closure of their office and the lack of personnel.

Local Government by Rumour

Meanwhile, BANES seems determined to continue to run Radstock by feeding the rumour mill or remaining totally silent - the latest requests for information about the future of the Victoria Hall have not been answered and the planned update which should have gone to Cabinet in September did not materialise; there are reports that the council proposes attempting to move the Jubilee Oak in November - we regard this as a death sentence for this tree which has been in full leaf throughout the summer - contrary to suggestions that it was dead; the Sainsbury's plans are still in the air - surely the NRR should be voicing some views on this since any mega-store in the town is going to have a radical impact on the way the town centre develops?

A Busy Autumn Ahead

The failure of a whole series of attempts to impose unacceptable solutions on the town must surely convince BANES and other interested parties that it is high time to start listening to the people who know what's best - those who live and work in Radstock. After a quiet summer, Radstock Action Group is determined to continue the campaign to make Radstock a place that meets the needs of the people who live in the town. We look forward to the continued support which has made progress possible up to now and to working with all the other groups and individuals who work for the best outcomes . Anyone who would like to get involved on a regular or one-off basis is welcome at our meetings - every Wednesday at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church.

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[3rd July 2012]: BANES Cabinet comes to Radstock to Discuss Future of Victoria Hall

Bath and North East Somerset Council
Cabinet Meeting
Radstock Methodist Church
11th July, 2012 @ 6.30 pm

In a rare and welcome departure from their normal venues, BANES Cabinet will be holding their next meeting in Radstock. The reason for this? Steps will be made towards a later decision on the exact future of the hall.

BANES publishes the agenda for the meeting

The documentation for the meeting is now available on the BANES website. It contains the very clear message that the vast majority of respondents to the initial consultation exercise favoured the continuing ongoing use of the Victoria Hall for Community Uses, with Meeting Space, Exhibition Space and Snooker being the second to fourth preferences. BANES must ensure that they really do respond positively to the local community's wishes, noting the good will and the offers of help which have emerged from the initial consultation. Above all, the final decision must aim for the very best, in terms of design, development, organisation, maintenance and day-to-day running. Our key municipal building deserves nothing less and there is now a golden opportunity to ensure that we have facilities which reflect the current needs and wishes of the town.

Involving the community in the next steps is vital

Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done before the next Cabinet meeting in September, and we hope that BANES will continue to discuss with the many people who care about the future of the Hall and who have, in many cases, offered their time, expertise and enthusiasm to ensure that it remains in community use and to permit the earliest possible return of local users.

Radstock Action Group will be attending the meeting where contributions from members of the public will be taken. Our written response to the recent consultation can be found by clicking here.

We urge as many people as possible to come to the meeting and to speak.

How to book to speak at the meeting

Anyone wishing to speak at the meeting should phone Col Spring on 01225 394942 or email: democratic_services@bathnes.gov.uk.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[20th June 2012]: Radstock Action Group Response to BANES Consultation on the Future of the Victoria Hall

Click here to download the document (191Kb pdf)


[18th June 2012]: New Report Highlights the Need to Fight Supermarket Developments

Last week the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) published the results of a five year project ('From field to fork: The value of England's local food webs'). It has some interesting facts which are very relevant to the view that a new Sainsbury's megastore at Westfield will be highly unlikely to benefit the local economy and spells out the way that town centres are damaged by such huge intrusions into the retail life of a community.

Key findings include:

  1. By late 2011, applications had been submitted or permission granted for a reported 44 million square feet of new supermarket development, equivalent to 572 football fields, 80 per cent of it out-of-town
  2. There has been a collapse in traditional specialist food stores, such as butchers and greengrocers, from around 120,000 in the 1950s to 18,000 in the late 2000s
  3. Town centre vacancy rates now average 14 per cent and can be as high as 30 per cent
  4. In 1998 the National Retail Planning Forum examined the effects on employment following the opening of 93 edge-of-town supermarkets and found a net average loss of 276 jobs in each area. This study did not include florists, clothes shops and newsagents, suggesting far greater actual jobs losses.

These will ring true to those who fear for the future of the wide range of local shops in Radstock and Westfield and beyond.

The way forward

Perhaps the way forward is to start putting far greater emphasis on local food as described in the report. Already our local retailers are at the forefront of selling local products - this brings great benefits in terms of work opportunities, less pollution and disturbance from heavy goods traffic and a sense of the value of being part of a community. The CPRE stresses the importance of local products to the health of our high streets, local economies and landscapes. Radstock Action Group will be exploring ways of linking up with other communities which are facing similar issues and we invite everyone in the town to join us.

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, Radstock Action Group


[31st May 2012]: Two Important Radstock Meetings Coming Up

Radstock Action Group is pleased to be able to spread the word about TWO PUBLIC MEETINGS coming up. Please note that RAG is not the organiser of either of these meetings but we support them both.

The Future of the Victoria Hall - organised by Friends of Victoria Hall

Monday 11 June ~ 17.30 - 20.30 ~ St Hugh's Church Hall, Wells Hill, Radstock

  • Have your say on the future of Victoria Hall
  • Share your memories
  • Become a friend of Victoria Hall
  • Get that questionnaire completed
  • Displays, speakers, questionnaire forms
  • Tea and coffee

The future of Rail in Radstock - organised by SW Transport Network and Railfuture

Thursday 14 June ~ 19.30 - 21.00 ~ Radstock Methodist Church

A message from Daniel Casey, Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance, and on behalf of SW Transport Network and Railfuture:

"Owing to the drafting of the Great Western Franchise specification in the coming weeks, and the 'feasibility study' commissioned by B&NES Council into re-opening the mothballed Frome - Radstock spur, we would like to get everyone around the table to discuss the potential and desire for rail in Radstock.

It has come to my attention that the Halcrow report 'West of England Area Rail Studies (Final, April 2012)' does not consider the great potential for services from Radstock/Frome to: Swindon via Melksham, Weymouth, and many UK destinations via Westbury. Such connectivity has been appreciated by many MPs of the region in a recently published statement, and should be in the scope of the West of England's 'travel to work' area."

Everyone welcome at both meetings

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[28th May 2012]: Government Policy on Town Centres and the Westfield Sainsbury's Bid

Local high streets - the beating heart of their neighbourhoods

The twelve successful bids to the Portas Pilots Project for a chunk of government money to regenerate town centres have just been announced. Over 370 town centre bids were received and apparently they all put up a good case, but sadly only twelve could be winners. Local Government minister Grant Shapps commented on the Portas Pilots bids this week, saying, "The best local high streets offer more than simply shopping - they are the beating heart of their neighbourhoods: places to meet, work, relax and come together as a community. It's why this competition to become a Portas Pilot has captured the imagination of the nation, with communities across the country uniting to support their high streets."

We can all agree with these sentiments but such central issues should be addressed through a much more strategic approach to the ongoing desolation being imposed on our town centres by the onward and apparently unstoppable march of superstores.

Ensuring the vitality of town centres

The previous week (17 May), a document entitled Town centres, planning and supermarkets (SN/SC/1106) was placed in the House of Commons Library. It provides a useful overview of government thinking and confirms the Town Centre First policy and gives examples of the Government's support for town centres/high streets and identifies how the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will be used in support of town centres.

One key aspect of the NPPF allegedly designed to 'ensure the vitality of town centres' requires an impact assessment for:

  • the impact of the proposal on existing, committed and planned public and private investment in a centre or centres in the catchment area of the proposal; and
  • the impact of the proposal on town centre vitality and viability, including local consumer choice and trade in the town centre and wider area, up to five years from the time the application is made. For major schemes where the full impact will not be realised in five years, the impact should also be assessed up to ten years from the time the application is made.

Will the proposed new road system in Radstock survive the traffic implications of the new store?

We trust that BANES, will guarantee that all aspects of declared policy is closely adhered to. The Council must also consider that it continues to maintain that their proposed new road system for Radstock has been fine tuned by taking into account traffic projections and surveys. We do not recall any mention of the possibility of the huge amounts of traffic, both cars and delivery trucks, that would be generated by a new store in Westfield. The prospect of the new, already discredited roundabout and new road system surviving such an unforeseen massive increase in usage seems highly unlikely.

Sign the petition against the proposals

People who feel they already know enough to convince them that a Sainsbury's superstore at Westfield will jeopardise a huge number of local centres, can consider signing the petition.

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[21st May 2012]: Victoria Hall must be saved

Faint hearts might conclude from the latest dramatic steps involving the immediate closure of the Victoria Hall, that there is little point in even contemplating any future for this iconic building which says so much about the history and the prospects of Radstock.

The Good News: BANES says its committed to bringing the building up to modern standards

However, Radstock Action Group is encouraged to see that BANES has stated that 'It was always anticipated that there would be significant financial costs to bring the building up to modern standards to support any future use and the Cabinet remains committed to identifying the funding required'. This, hopefully, indicates that we can expect BANES to remain committed to the full restoration of the hall as the key civic building in the town. The other encouraging aspect of the surveys which have been conducted, is that there appears to be no damning condemnation of the structure of the building: the key weaknesses appear to be the electricals and the asbestos.

Keeping Radstock distinctive and special

Clearly, the condition outlined by the Council is serious and no-one can quarrel with the closure if lives could be at risk. But, under no circumstances, should this latest problem be regarded as the end of the road for the Hall. As we fight to prevent the destruction of the rail features in the centre of the town, we are now faced with the prospect of protecting another key part of the important heritage of 'the best preserved mining town centre in the country'. It is absolutely essential that we do not find ourselves witnessing the erosion of all that makes Radstock distinctive and special being gradually whittled away by small steps, each one of which might appear insignificant to those who do not know the town well.

The Community must get involved in getting the Victoria Hall back to full use

Only the people of Radstock, working in concert with the BANES and Radstock Town Council and other statutory and voluntary sector organisations, can save the town centre, including the Victoria Hall. We know that people will come forward as they did to volunteer to keep it running before BANES agreed to help out. Clearly, current users of the Hall need to be able to resume their use as soon as possible.

Working with and learning from other communities

The fight to save the Hall will require coordinated action to support BANES in fundraising for future restoration, ensuring that there are no half-measures and that the hall is never again subjected to the irresponsible neglect it has suffered in recent years. Buildings old and new require maintenance; there are many towns and communities which have brought old civic buildings back into vibrant use for their users and we must learn from their experiences and take their advice.

Radstock Action Group urges everyone to return their questionnaire rather than being discouraged by the latest developments.

This is a building of which we can all be proud - it can be a key focus for the town as regeneration gives Radstock a new and exciting future.

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[5th May 2012]: The Sainsbury's Project is Growing

On Wednesday 2 May, Sainsbury's presented its proposals for a new mega-store in Westfield to the Somer Valley Partnership and then, later the same day, to Radstock Action Group's regular weekly meeting, where they were joined by interested supporters, including some Radstock traders.

Did either of these meetings tell us anything new? Having announced previously that the new store would be 45,000 square feet, or the same size as the Frome mega-store, we were told that, in fact, it will be 55,000 square feet - 25% bigger than the Frome store.

Amongst those present at the RAG meeting, Mark Brinkworth, RADCO's Radstock Store Manager, pointed out that for that floor area to be viable in business terms, Sainsbury's would most likely be counting on £650,000 weekly takings - takings which Mr Brinkworth pointed out would have to come out of expenditure by shoppers elsewhere. The presenters could not deny this.

They, instead, concentrated on what they would do to support local traders - let a trader use the Sainsbury's foyer area, free of charge, for one day to sell their own goods - as one trader pointed out, this would make little difference to the losses which would be incurred over the longer term in normal trading circumstances. They would consider improvements to the street scene.

Sainsbury's also said they would be providing a 70:30 split on goods offered - 70% being food-related and the rest other goods. They expect to include a butcher's counter, a fish counter, a bakery counter .... the 30% would include garden items and other 'seasonal' offers, 'small' electrical, DVDs, children's and women's clothes, kitchen wares, newspapers and so on.

Out of all this will come up to 150 jobs - 50 of which will be full-time and the rest being part-time of indeterminate hours. This will obviously go part way to offsetting the loss, from the site, of 192 full-time jobs at CFH - it is to be hoped that these stay in the immediate vicinity rather than going further afield - the decision has not yet been made, but there was an undertaking that they would not be moving too far.

Whatever the details, it is even clearer now that such a development would jeopardise Radstock town centre and jobs in Westfield, Midsomer Norton shops and further afield too. Ultimately there would be less choice for shoppers and further to travel. Traffic would increase as Sainsbury's made it very clear they had been consulting people from as far afield as Wells, Bath and Frome about their shopping needs; truck deliveries to the store would be made throughout opening hours (7am - 10pm) and there was no unequivocal commitment to not delivering at other times too.

Some very clear choices are beginning to emerge - the key one is do local people really need yet another superstore, especially given the impact it would have on all other traders and on local residents? Just think about Paulton and Shepton Mallet for evidence that whole towns are laid waste by such huge stores, the social and economic fabric of communities is inevitably under threat.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[30th April 2012]: Radstock Annual Town Meeting - A Chance to Say What You Think

Radstock Town Council has published the notice of the Radstock Annual Town Meeting - it's on Wednesday 9 May. Unlike other Town Council meetings, members of the public will be able to make their views felt by more than just asking questions. Radstock Action Group hopes to see that the Town Council will be listening to the residents of the town. The meeting will fall exactly one week after the Radstock Action Group meeting (Wednesday 2 May @ 8pm in the Methodist Church) with Sainsbury's Reps.

We have yet to see Radstock Town Council either listening or taking up a positive stance on the regeneration of the town - it is to be hoped that this meeting will give everyone a chance to get involved in a dialogue - not just about whether the town needs a gigantic Sainsbury's but also about how we can build the distinctive character of our town, whether by encouraging independent traders or safeguarding our unique rail heritage or by ensuring that every home constructed in the town in future developments is matched by a job - the only way to guarantee a healthy economy which will be able to gear up for building on our many assets.

We urge everyone to attend the Radstock Annual Town Meeting plus the preceding meeting on the National Planning Policy Framework which will be presented by BANES Reps @ 5.30pm, also at the Methodist Church. This key document will be central to all future plans for development.

PRESS RELEASE issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[23rd April 2012]: The National Planning Policy Framework - An ideal tool for protecting and developing Radstock?

The government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), was published in March. According to the ministerial foreword, it is about 'sustainable development' which should incorporate 'change for the better', not just in our built environment, but also our natural and historic environment; it highlights the need for higher standards of design and foresees the new planning framework as supporting sustainable development' or 'positive growth - making economic, environmental and social progress for this and future generations.'

'It provides a framework within which local people and their accountable councils can produce their own distinctive local and neighbourhood plans, which reflect the needs and priorities of their communities .... planning must be a creative exercise in finding ways to enhance and improve the places in which we live our lives'.

So where does this leave Radstock?

How do current proposals for Radstock fit into the NPPF?

At the moment, the town is facing a whole range of challenges and threats which could make a mockery of the NPPF. The Victoria Hall, our key civic building, is all but closed as BANES finds ever more excuses to do nothing; Linden Homes and the spectral vestiges of the NRR have applied for a renewal of the permission of Conservation Area Consent, which will, if passed, give the go-ahead to the demolition of bridges/underpass, former forge/wagon works, railway platforms and wall' all of which are key aspects of the industrial heritage of the community's industrial fame; the Jubilee Oak is in the way of a new unwanted road scheme; Sainsbury's want to build a store in Westfield, the same size as the one in Frome; the former war memorial site is destined to be buried under a new and unjustified road scheme.

Don't rely on your local town council to take up the fight

Radstock Town Council, however, is not going to be in the vanguard of implementing the NPPF. This was illustrated yet again last week when they agreed to support the application to demolish the rail structures. At the same meeting Radstock Action Group asked for the answer to the question first asked at the January meeting, ' What is RTC's commitment to future community uses for Victoria Hall?' Having sat on this question for three months, the reply was that the council could not do or say anything as it had not been consulted (presumably by BANES). So anyone holding their breath to hear that RTC is going to take the NPPF's guidance and use it to support the town, should think again.

There's plenty of energy in Radstock - let's get organised now

What is being done TO Radstock is at odds with the entire thrust of the NPPF. BANES and its acolyte RTC can be expected to do nothing to ensure that it is used in a positive fashion to bring renewed growth and prosperity to Radstock, so it will be up to all those who value the town, who live and work in it.

Anyone wishing to object to the conservation area consent for the railway land should go to: Bath and North East Somerset Case Application: 12/01230/CA (just google the case number) or alternatively write to the case officer, Geoff Webber at geoff_webber@bathnes.gov.uk, or at The Guildhall, High Street, Bath BA1 5AW. Radstock Action Group is meeting with a representative of Sainsburys at 8pm on Wednesday 2 May at the Methodist Church - everyone who wants to hear more and make their views known is most welcome to attend.

These are just two items to get started on but now that we have a clearly stated government policy to use, we must take advantage of it on every issue - the Core Strategy is still in the melting pot.

Radstock people know what is best for Radstock

BANES Lib Dem administration seems only to observe the voice of the coalition government when it fits with their outmoded view of regeneration - Radstock is not to be used as a dumping ground for inappropriate housing at the expense of the very special qualities and potential of the town - what could be better from BANES point of view than a huge supermarket outside the town centre, killing off the local traders and leaving the stage clear for a housing estate? Radstock Action Group welcomes good quality housing, on appropriate sites, we want more jobs and we want our natural and historical environments to be used to attract more visitors and businesses. When has a faceless housing estate of vast proportions ever done that?

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[2nd April 2012]: Out of town supermarket developments spell job losses and decline of town centres

Last week the government announced its broad acceptance of Mary Portas's recommendations for the improvement of town centres. However, most significantly, it rejected one recommendation, designed to help protect local high streets. This was for all out-of-town retail developments to be approved by ministers and of particular note to Radstock, as it comes to terms with the announcement that Sainsbury's wants to build a supermarket in Westfield.

Whilst Sainsbury's claims that their proposed new development would create approximately 150 full and part-time jobs, it would undoubtedly lead to the loss of many present jobs as traders in the town centre and Westfield will struggle to compete with such a development. Experience from other parts of the country shows clearly that supermarket claims to be creating jobs are not accurate and that many other jobs go when a 'giant' moves in.

According to the Association of Convenience Stores Chief Executive James Lowman: "The most important Portas recommendation was for the Government to call in all out of town planning applications for exceptional approval by Ministers. If this recommendation is not implemented, it will undermine not only Mary Portas' excellent work, but also the new National Planning Policy Framework published only this week.

"Mary Portas identified that you can't have strong high streets if out of town retail parks are springing up at the alarming rate we are seeing now, with 80% of new grocery development located out of town. Local shops and people who love their high street will feel let down if the Government fails to listen to Mary Portas on this issue." (Click here to view press release.

Radstock Action Group remains committed to supporting our present town centre - no community is complete without trade and business in general - Radstock is unusual in having a particularly interesting and attractive range of independent businesses, both retail and other services, which coupled with RADCO, complement the tourist potential of the town and provide a good centre for social and cultural events. With a renovated Victoria Hall committed to community use, the future of the town has great potential.

According to Sainsbury's, 'People will be able to make a complete weekly shop. There will be a full range of food and non-food, plus a petrol station'. This might sound very attractive on the surface, but the individuality of the retail offer and the distinctiveness of the whole town centre will suffer. If agreed by BANES Planning, this could further advance the apparent determination of the Council to turn Radstock (including Westfield) into one large housing development devoid of businesses, jobs and distinctiveness - TESCO's latest application to expand at Paulton was rejected on the basis that it would further threaten local high streets - it looks like the argument has not yet been totally won. It is to be hoped that BANES planners will take the alterntive option ....

In the case of the CFH site, an area which has to date been focussed on industry which provides jobs, will be lost in favour of retail which employs more limited numbers. Additionally, the development of a new supermarket will lead to increased traffic on an already very hectic road when what we need are more local facilities which discourage private car use. What guarantees are there that any such development would be viable when supermarkets themselves are having to rethink their marketing strategies as they turn over to on-line shopping? Could any such development become a white elephant, a shop in decline as on-line dominates, where there could have been meaning full industrial and commercial development with jobs?

A deserted town centre and faceless housing estates can do nothing to improve the quality of life and prosperity of those who live in the commercially active, beautiful and historic surroundings of the town. We urge BANES to start listening to those who count - the people who live and work in Radstock.

Radstock Action Group will be taking up the suggestion from Sainsbury's for a meeting.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[26th March 2012]: The only U-turn in Radstock must be on B&NES road proposals

Of Planning Permissions and Safety Audits

A flurry of rumours about Radstock's future surfaced last week in the press. Sadly they all revealed that B&NES' capacity to ignore public opinion and confuse everyone is going on at full throttle. For example:

  1. BANES says that no new planning application is required in relation to the railway land. This cannot be the case as the previous one was based on the Frome Road being shut - as we all know, it will now remain open. Homes cannot now be built in the same orientation and position as they would originally have been next to a road limited to buses and cyclists, whereas now they will be right on top of the usual Frome Road traffic
  2. Contrary to information given previously, BANES says that the council itself is now carrying out work on the roads itself and that the authority is respoonsible for the road safety audit. but according to Glen Chipp (BANES Strategic Director Service Delivery), on 1 March, 'The safety audit is comissioned by the developer and then submitted to the Highway authority for consideration. Once this process has been completed we will be able to publish our findings officially'. On 16 March, Radstock Action Group wrote to Cllr Cherry Beath (Cabinet member for Regeneration) asking, amongst other things) who is responsible for the Safety Audit - to date RAG have not received even an acknowledgement of our request.

Freedom of Information Request reveals Careless Attitude towards Public Opinion

Meanwhile, in a separate strand, RAG had, under Freedom of Information, requested details excluding individuals' names, of the submissions made to the council in relation to the Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). The group has now been asked to pay £40 to get hold of most of the information, as there is, according to BANES, a lot of it - no surprises on this latter point as everyone knows of the volume of complaints and opposition letters received by the Council on the road proposals. RAG asked for this information and much more, because there is evidence merging that the Council has not made circulated to anyone in Cabinet or Council the full texts of complaints and objections received, prior to a decision on the TROs being taken.

However, on one point there is even greater cause for concern. RAG asked for 'The records kept from the 'exhibition' held in Radstock Methodist Church on 9/10 December 2011, including how comments made by visitors were recorded and what these comments were'. It was made clear to the council that the request was not for the names of people participating. BANES has replied, 'The only information the Council holds in relation to ..... your request is a list of the visitors'. First, what was the point of people going to the event if no-one was going to record their views and pass them on to the relevant individuals/departments? Second, some people remember clearly seeing a book in which people could write their comments and wonder where this may have gone.

Let's build a Strong Case for Proper Regeneration based on Local Knowledge, Expertise and Experience

The truth of the matter is that BANES is still determined to ignore local voices - but it is never to late to reconsider. In the light of the chaos and confusion evidenced above, coupled with the clear wishes of the people who live and work in Radstock, Radstock Action Group asks BANES yet again to listen.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[12th March 2012]: Will politicians and planners learn the lessons from the temporary four way traffic lights in Radstock?

The presence of Wessex Water's four way traffic light system in Radstock must surely have taught politicians and planners some important lessons. Radstock Action Group hopes that the lessons will be applied to the current road proposals without delay.

  1. Radstock does not normally have a traffic problem - the alleged congestion which BANES says is being solved by the new road system quite simply doesn't exist. Of course, at peak times, there are queues and drivers have to wait for short periods, but these delays compare favourably with the sort of hold-ups that occur regularly in Bath and elsewhere, and are a part of everyday life in all towns in the twenty first century. The only solution is to provide a reasonably priced, reliable, frequent public transport system.
  2. The more obstacles you put in the way of the traffic, the longer the queues and delays. Thus when the traffic lights system as in operation, tailbacks developed instantly, trucks were seen having to go over curbs to get round, buses ran late.
  3. When drivers have to wait more than what they regard as a reasonable time, they take avoiding action. In the case of Radstock, they stopped coming into town to do their shopping; they pioneered new rat runs, thus disrupting other communities; and they took their business elsewhere.

And so, the big question remains. Why is BANES intent on introducing permanent obstacles to previously satisfactory traffic flow? Why are they pursuing, for example:

  1. The introduction of two new roundabouts in the town centre
  2. The introduction of a traffic system which will require more pedestrian crossings to keep people safe, so that, for example, anyone turning out of Fortescue Road (an obligatory left turn in the new regime) will have to negotiate traffic coming from the right, deal with a pedestrian crossing going across to RADCO and a new roundabout at the bottom of Wells Road, all in the space of less than 100 metres
  3. The introduction of a 'give way' from Church Street to enable traffic on the proposed new road link to go down the Street

Unenforceable restrictions

We saw clearly that the 'Access only' restriction for traffic coming down Bath Old Road during the Wessex Water four way traffic lights phase, could not be enforced, so why is there any reason to suppose that the proposed 20mph and 7.5 tonne limits on the new link road will be enforceable? They won't - anyone with the slightest imagination can work out what will follow when 44 tonne trucks meet in the newly two way Street and so on.

Health and Safety should come first

The health and safety of everyone who works, lives in or visits Radstock should be paramount. So far, BANES has not produced a safety audit for the proposed new road scheme. The authority has a duty of care to those who will be affected by any new development and must show, beyond question, that new proposals are safe. Whether it's air pollution caused by increased numbers of queuing vehicles, traffic flows involved in unsafe compulsory manoeuvres or two way traffic involving heavy goods vehicles in narrow shopping streets, the planned package looks anything but safe.

Take advantage of Radstock's unique blend of shops and services

The traders in our very special shopping centre deserve a better deal - let's leave the centre of Radstock alone - this way customers can resume their shopping in the knowledge that hold-ups were a temporary hiccup and that parking will be available as they drop in to make their favourite purchases. Every thriving town needs varied and quality traders - that's what Radstock has.

We urge BANES to think again and to listen to the people who know. These people have repeatedly made their views known - they live in and use the town. The council should work with the local people to develop true regeneration in the town. It is not too late.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[1st March 2012]: Update on two important Radstock events this week

LAST REMINDER FOR TONIGHT ... Thursday 1 March

SAVE THE JUBILEE OAK: Colin Latchem's Tree SAVE THE HEART OF RADSTOCK
Tonight 8pm @ Radstock Methodist Church, The Street

Karen Emery will speak for the Family and Friends of Colin Latchem, Cllr Eleanor Jackson will present the facts of the road proposals and Amanda Leon will speak about what has been done, needs doing, what the reasons are for trying, even at this late stage, to persuade the council to modify its proposals.

EVERYONE WELCOME

ANOTHER ONE FOR SATURDAY ...

JAM ... against the jams is this coming Saturday 3 March - 11 to 3. Radstock Town Centre.

The programme is coming together well and we hope everyone will come into town and enjoy all the events and shops - music, food, children's events (including mini-bouncy castle, face painting, glitter tattoos, Amy's Sweets and Candy and Teddy Tombola - all in the Methodist Church Hall), music from Radstock Youth and Benji Bartlett. Please give us a tune if you want to join in. A competition in the shops etc etc.

Radstock Action Group would like to thank all the people who have already contributed so generously as individuals to the appeal for funds for the day; also thanks to Somer Valley Rotary Club for financial support; Fosseway Press and Clifford Construction for in-kind help and support.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[27th February 2012]: Two important events this coming week

EVENT NO.1

Organised by The Family and Friends of Colin Latchem and Radstock Action Group

Save the Jubilee Oak: Colin Latchem's Tree
Save the Heart of Radstock

Thursday 1 March 2012
Radstock Methodist Church @ 8pm
Everyone welcome

Almost everyone in Radstock has strong views about the Jubilee Oak - it was planted to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 and is a special feature of the town centre.

For many people, the Jubilee Oak has a very special significance as a place where they remember Colin Latchem who died as a result of an accident in the town. His sister, Karen Emery will speak for the Family and Friends. There will also be a speaker from Radstock Action Group.

BANES is still saying that work will begin on the road on 19 March - this meeting will provide an opportunity to clarify the latest plans and let people voice their views. Many people are still confused by the proposals - many were shocked to see exactly what was in store when BANES cut down all the trees on Frome Road and flattened the railway land across to the Victoria Hall. This could be the last chance people have to influence the future of Radstock's unwanted road plans.

The Jubilee Oak is destined to be a victim of the new proposed road scheme and we still want to save it. Come and hear why BANES thinks it is necessary to chop it down and replace it with a new traffic roundabout. See whether you can come up with a convincing alternative which will enable it to stay and flourish.

Thousands of people have shown, by signing petitions and writing in to BANES, that they do not want the Oak to be chopped down, that they are opposed to the road scheme. The Oak is decorated by people, all of whom have reasons for wanting it to stay. More and more ribbons are appearing.

We want BANES to listen before it is too late. There is still time.


EVENT NO.2

Jam Against the Jams:
Saturday 3 March 11am to 3pm ...
Definitely where you need to be next Saturday

The Hog Roast is booked; children's activities are being organised; there will be competitions and more - you'll find plenty to do in Radstock next Saturday. Keep your eyes open for further details.

Treasure our Traders! Treasure our Town!

Look no further for your shopping and entertainment. Meet your friends and give yourselves a treat.

It's no secret that Radstock town centre is taking a bit of a hit at the moment, with all the traffic jams as Wessex Water does essential sewer works - and people trying to avoid the town as a result. If you are one of the many people who know what a fantastic set of shops and other traders we have, you'll want to give them a big boost this coming Saturday.

The aim of Jam is to get everyone into town to have a good time and support all our great shops and other businesses that provide a unique blend of interesting, intriguing, essential, surprising, delicious, specialist, special items and products and services ...

Make sure you come to town on Saturday.

We are also looking for donations to help with the costs and for people who can help beforehand and on the day. You can make contact with us via the website or Facebook.

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[23rd February 2012]: BANES PRESS RELEASE issued on 21 February 2012 - Radstock residents to have their say on Victoria Hall

A consultation on the future of Victoria Hall will be launched by Bath and North East Somerset Council in the next few weeks.

No preferred option for the future use of the building will be put forward. Every resident will be written to by the Council and people will have 8 weeks to give their view.

The result of the consultation will be reported to the July 2012 Cabinet Meeting. The Hall will remain open as usual from March 1st 2012 until a decision about its long-term future is implemented.

Councillor David Bellotti (Lib-Dem, Lyncombe), Cabinet Member for Community Resources, said, "Bath & North East Somerset Council will be listening to the views of local people on what they think should be the future for the building that we recognise is highly valued by the community. We will not be consulting on a firm proposal at this stage. Whilst the consultation takes place, the Hall will remain open for the community groups that currently use it.

"We must make clear that whatever the future of the Hall, renovations will be required to bring the building up to a 21st century standard and over the coming months the Cabinet will be working to identify funding to achieve this."

WHAT WE THINK

RAG welcomes the apparent commitment to the Victoria Hall.

  • Hopefully the consultation will be a more transparent and fair exercise than others conducted in Radstock
  • Rather than being a single item, the Victoria Hall should be seen as part of a strategic plan for the regeneration of the whole of Radstock
  • We will campaign to keep the Hall in community use
  • BANES has been approached by a group which arose out of our 'Saving victoria Hall' day. They have volunteered to help in the running of the Hall but have not had a response yet - there are many people in Radstock who could play a valuable part in taking care of the Hall
  • We support the idea of making the Hall the focal point for Radstock's Jubilee celebrations - the hall is named after one Diamond Jubilee Queen - now let her hall be the centre of celebrations of another Diamond Jubilee Queen ...

[20th February 2012]: Wessex Water Sewer Works provide a Test Run for Radstock's Future

Chaos in Radstock as obstacles accumulate and shoppers go elsewhere

A Wessex Water person was putting back the sign in Bath Old Road - it said, 'No through traffic: Access Only'. It was just a pity that drivers trying to get into Radstock last week were taking absolutely no notice and were using this rat run from Peasedown Flat in a vain attempt to get round the queues coming down the main A367 road from Bath direction. The employee explained that, much as he sympathised, it was not his job to try and police this restriction.

Meanwhile in the centre of town, the traders were at the sharp end of customers giving up and going elsewhere. There was an uncanny number of parking spaces available in Fortescue Road - no-one could reach them without a wait of up to an hour, sometimes even more, to get into the centre.

There's nothing temporary about this scenario

Whilst BANES has been keen to suggest that this is just a temporary inconvenience, those who oppose the road have seen their worst case scenarios coming to fruition since the Wessex Water works began. There is no reason to believe that things are going to get any better. Radstock will experience a loss of trade, drivers will experience long delays and continue to avoid the town centre once they realise what is going on. The BANES road proposals will make permanent the sort of problems that Wessex Water is creating for a limited period. There will be no going back.

Surely no traffic engineer could have dreamt this up?

The temporary sets of traffic lights in the town constitute obstacles to the smooth running of traffic, as will the new roundabouts that BANES continues to insist they will be putting in - and the roundabouts (at Charltons and at the junction of The Street and the A367) will be permanent.

Until all the traffic decides to go elsewhere, there will be delays as, for example, vehicles back up into Wells Hill waiting for traffic to turn right into The Street; this traffic will be negotiating road with all the traffic which will be obliged to turn left out of Fortescue Road and do a complete round of the new roundabout at The Street before returning to Bath direction. And, just as no-one can police the temporary sign in Bath Old Road, there will be no-one to police the 7.5 tonne weight limit which BANES says it will impose on traffic using the new road from Charltons in Frome Road to The Street.

Trade in Fortescue Road, with its newly reversed traffic flow, will dry up as drivers wanting to get to Bath and all directions other than Wells and Haydon will have to turn left out of Fortescue Road and whilst taking care not to injure anyone on the pedestrian crossing, will also have to proceed to the new roundabout at the junction with The Street. Why would they bother? They'll avoid shopping in Radstock.

What is it about 'NO to the road' that BANES doesn't understand?

According to BANES the majority of people in Radstock are in favour of the above chaotic scenario. But this is not so. Thousands have now signed petitions against the new road, in favour of keeping the Jubilee Oak and in favour of the reinstatement of the rail link between Radstock and Frome. In addition, they have held vigils, hung ribbons, demonstrated outside the Guildhall, spoken at Council meetings, written to their elected 'representatives' and the newspapers. They have been on TV and radio. They have made suggestions about better ways to regenerate Radstock. They have done everything possible to convince BANES that Radstock deserves better.

In the past week, supporters of Radstock Action Group have been asked by even more people, 'What is the point of replacing the Jubilee Oak with a traffic roundabout? Why does The Street have to become two way? Why do we need a new road? Why hasn't a full safety audit of the proposals been done as required?' and so on. More and more people are now beginning to realise that the BANES proposals are not in the best interests of the town; that the computer generated modelling of the new road scheme was done by the same means as the one that has resulted in the unresolved problems on Silver Street in Midsomer Norton.

Time for constructive discussions

BANES can either carry on and oversee the demise of everything that makes 'the best-preserved mining town centre in the country' special, or it can admit that it needs to listen to those who know - the people who visit, live and/or work in Radstock. They will find a place brimming with ideas, expertise and enthusiasm for a bright future for their home town. What happened to Lib Dems listening pledges? it is not too late to have a rethink. This is our town, please treat it with respect.

We urge everyone to make a particular effort to get to our shops - they are at the heart of the town and provide a huge range of interesting, original and essential products and services.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[13th February 2012]: Radstock Ribbon Wrap runs out of Ribbon as anger grows about BANES plans

Overwhelming support for keeping the Jubilee Oak

On Saturday 11 February, Radstock Action Group invited people to express their opposition to the road plans and their support for the Jubilee Oak by signing a ribbon to tie on the old Jubilee Oak Tree. The support was outstanding - even by Radstock standards. By midday, the ribbon had run out. It provides more evidence of the massive strength of feeling in the town against the plans of Bath and North East Somerset (BANES).

BANES says it is going to go ahead with the road. Many of the people who came to sign ribbons on Saturday were angry and shocked to discover that the plans are still proceeding and that even the Jubilee Oak is not to be spared if BANES gets its way. People came specially to sign a ribbon, to talk about their own opposition to what is going on, to find out more. The oak tree is simply one of the many features of Radstock which will disappear.

People round the country are planting new Jubilee Oaks - so BANES opts to chop one down - it's been there since 1897

People constantly referred to the fact that the Queen and communities round the country are all planting trees to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee whilst BANES is determined to destroy the Oak planted in Radstock in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

A week marked by the devastation of the conservation area as path of new road is driven through town

The ribbons for the oak came at the end of a bad week for Radstock - Monday's acts of destruction by the council and outside contractors who between them flattened the railway land and the trees were followed by further works supposedly creating a compound for builders on the site. Anyone who had any doubts about the way the new road will wreck the town, can now survey the devastation, the original site of the war memorial and the gardens it still has, are now in the direct path of the road development. Just behind it, where beautiful trees stood, there are ugly now stumps - these too will be swallowed up by the road. A press release justifying the work was issued a day after irreversible damage had been done.

Why isn't BANES putting the needs of Radstock first?

The new road is not all that awaits 'the best preserved mining town centre in the country' (English Heritage). The centre of Radstock is destined to become marooned in a traffic system designed to speed through traffic on its way; proposed housing will be of questionable quality and destroy the character of the town.

Once again, people repeatedly said, 'Why are they doing this? What's in it for Radstock?' Unfortunately, BANES have never been able to answer these questions. Even though over 2,000 people signed the petition against the road. And that is why Radstock Action Group will continue to campaign against these plans and for the genuine regeneration of Radstock. RAG urges everyone to continue to contact the Council and remind them that residents, traders and visitors all want to see a regeneration not degeneration of this historic place. The Liberal Democrats in charge of BANES told us they would listen - they haven't done so yet.

On Tuesday, David Woodland for ITV West Country Tonight told viewers that the town centre 'is a complicated knot of roads that have been tied here over the centuries. It was proving difficult today to find anyone who had confidence the council’s plan would untangle that knot’.

It was proving equally difficult on Saturday as people marked the danger to the Jubilee Oak and to the very heart of the town.

Save Radstock - NO to the Road - Put Radstock First

Photos of the Radstock Ribbon Wrap are on our Facebook page and will soon be on our website too. Photos of the devastation in town are already available.

Press release issued by Radstock Action Group on 13 February 2012


[10th February 2012]: Radstock Ribbon Wrap

Radstock Action Group announces an event to celebrate Radstock and say NO to the BANES plans. Hands off Radstock, hands off the Jubilee Oak.

Ribbon_Poster

RADSTOCK RIBBON WRAP
When? Saturday 11 February
Time? 10.30 - 12.00
Where? Radstock Town Centre: The Street opposite RADCO

Next Saturday 11 February, Radstock Action Group will be inviting everyone to join with them in celebrating Radstock and the Jubilee Oak.

  • As Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) continues to vandalise our town, we want to remember that it is a great place and particularly to salute our Jubilee Oak.
  • This tree was planted to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee and it is outrageous that in this Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Year it is in danger of being chopped down.
  • It has to go, according to BANES, to make way for a traffic roundabout in a wildly unpopular traffic scheme that the council is determined to impose on the town described by English Heritage as 'the best preserved mining town centre in the country'.

People will be invited to sign, and write additional messages on their own bit of yellow ribbon - RAG will provide this - and then their individual strip will be tied onto the oak tree. By midday, at the latest, we hope the Jubilee Oak will be looking splendid in its ribbons and that people will remember that this precious part of our heritage is at risk.

Unfortunately it is not the only part of our heritage at risk. This week, Radstock has been subjected to the total devastation and flattening of the railway land between the Frome Road and the Victoria Hall. This is where BANES intends building an unwanted strip of new road which will bring through traffic into the centre of town and cause irreversible damage to the shops, the buildings, the whole conservation area and the quality of life of the people who live and work in Radstock.

So much for the listening Lib Dems

To see photos of the land as it is now, go to our Facebook Page.

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[6th February 2012]: TONIGHT: CANDLE LIT VIGIL IN RADSTOCK

Radstock Action Group is holding a candlelit vigil tonight in protest at the destruction of the heart of Radstock. Today BANES and an outside contractor have been chopping down trees and opening up the railway land to contractors entering from Frome Road opposite Fosseway Press. initially we were told that this was being done by Wessex Water - the truth is, as confirmed by the manager on site, that it is being done by BANES who are clearly intent on starting the road as soon as possible, regardless of public opinion, planning issues, safety audits or anything else.

Despite the short notice we hope to be able to provide a fitting tribute to the town that we all regard as worth saving and regenerating.

Save the heart of Radstock - Stop the Road

CANDLE LIT VIGIL TONIGHT
Monday 6 February
6.30pm
Victoria Hall
Everyone welcome
Come and defend your town!
Bring your candles, torches and lanterns

BANES has begun the destruction of the railway land by chopping down a large number of trees. The subway and the path are closed. THE ROAD WILL BE NEXT.

SAVE THE HEART OF RADSTOCK: STOP THE ROAD

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[6th February 2012]: Radstock road construction works starting? Radstock will be the last to know.

RENEWED ACTIVITY ON RAILWAY LAND INDICATES ROAD BUILDING MAY BE STARTING

Last Friday (3 February) there was renewed contractor activity on the Railway Land. It's difficult to know how long it lasted or what they were doing. One thing is certain – they will be back.

Of course, the fact that the Wessex Water operations are starting this week enables BANES to begin all sorts of activity under cover of the inevitable disruption from the sewer works.

It seems highly likely that the subway and the footpath across the railway land will be closed and there are undoubtedly going to be trees in danger.

This is all that we know at present. Apart from two particularly salient facts:

  1. The leader of BANES, Councillor Paul Crossley is on record as having said publicly, several times that if there are no houses, there will be no road. There is currently no operable planning permission for the site in existence, so it's clear that nothing should be happening.
  2. There has been no Safety Audit for the new traffic system proposed – such an audit is a requirement which BANES has not met.

YET AGAIN TOTAL LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

True to past form, those who will be most affected by the proposed new road, the residents, businesses and visitors, are not even accorded the courtesy of being told what is being done to their town. Having taken no account of the views expressed in their latest ‘consultation', BANES appears determined to carry on with their plans which will render Radstock a housing estate at a road junction. So much for the Lib Dem declaration that they listen.

CORE STRATEGY EXAMINATION UNDERLINES BANES DETERMINATION TO TURN RADSTOCK INTO A COMMUTERS HOUSING ESTATE

As the Inspector continues to examine the BANES Draft Core Strategy, further evidence is emerging, through the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), of BANES intention to grab as many sites as possible in Radstock for building homes on, at the expense of potential jobs, with previously work-dominated sites being proposed for housing and the clear admission by BANES at the session devoted to the Somer Valley that 'self-containment will worsen'. This is planning speak for more people will have to out-commute to work; in other words that there will be more homes built than jobs created (roughly to the tune of 2,700 homes to 1,000 jobs in the Somer Valley as a whole). And Radstock, is in their sights, as the place where a disproportionate number of these homes will be built.

RADSTOCK NEEDS REGENERATION - WHY WON'T BANES TALK TO THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW BEST?

What has BANES got to worry about? Everyone is keen to have a dialogue about the future of Radstock. Everyone wants their suggestions to be put into the mix. What is needed now, as a matter of urgency, is the development of a strategic action plan for the town, lots of joined up thinking and a considerable hike in the ambitions that BANES has for the town - a hike that will match local ambitions and reflect the potential as well as the history of the place.

FINALLY

Radstock Action Group asks every single BANES councillor to think about how they would feel if their town or neighbourhood was the object of ill-thought out plans, so damaging and unpopular that secrecy became the key word in securing the changes. A situation in which local people's letters and comments were ignored, aspersions cast on the good intentions and integrity of those seeking to defend their town/neighbourhood from inappropriate development.

Perhaps then, having done this, these same councillors would have a rethink about Radstock.

Radstock Action Group will be renewing its calls to Councillor Crossley to stop this proposed road before it is too late and invites others to do likewise.

RADSTOCK ACTION GROUP SAYS 'SAVE THE HEART OF RADSTOCK - STOP THE ROAD'.

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[25th January 2012]: BANES has asked for clarifications to our recent press release

We have great pleasure in amending it, as suggested, and wish to underline that Ian Lund and Varian Tye made it clear that they held no mandate from the Council, could not be involved in any campaigning, and controlled no budgets. They were not in attendance when the future actions were agreed and were not involved in any agreements.

Apologies to anyone offended or misled by our original press release. Click here to download the revised version. (21Kb pdf)


[23rd January 2012]: Radstock Roads, Civic Buildings and the Future

ROAD PROPOSALS NEED A RETHINK - NOW

Radstock Action Group and supporters are continuing their campaign to find a better, more sustainable alternative to the road proposals agreed by BANES cabinet last week. Though the attempt to get the decision called in was unsuccessful, it became clear during the week that an increasing number of people have reservations about the wisdom of constructing a road and changing the centre of the town when they are likely to lead to anything but regeneration.

We are appealing to BANES to talk to the residents and traders of Radstock about finding a better way forward. It is not too late to reconsider. We are united by our wish to bring regeneration to the town and to retain its distinctive character - we are proud of its history, its prospects and its current town centre boasting a wide range of unusual shops, a museum and beautiful open spaces. Rather than destroying all this, we must build on it. We welcome all councillors to come and see for themselves just how much the town already has to offer.

VICTORIA HALL EVENT

Saving the Victoria Hall event opened by two experts on Historic Buildings

On Saturday 21 January, 35+ people took part in Radstock Action Group's day of discussions on the topic of Saving the Victoria Hall. Ian Lund, BANES Historic Environment Team leader and Varian Tye, BANES Senior Conservation Officer opened the event, with a presentation entitled Uncertain Times for a Heritage Asset. Their detailed, exceptionally informative, professional look at central issues related to caring for and safeguarding precious buildings set the tone for a wide ranging discussion and we were very pleased that they were able to stay for much of the day to contribute to the ongoing debate.

Variety of speakers set the scene for lively debate

Cllr Eleanor Jackson gave an overview of how earlier plans to safeguard the Victoria Hall had been put together and what had happened since people last gathered to discuss the future of this key civic building. She was followed by Chris Dando, the deputy chair of Radstock Town Council, who made lots of positive suggestions about ways of moving forward in the search for an acceptable solution to the problems faced. RAG Secretary, Amanda Leon, presented examples of how other local communities were in the process of breathing new life into precious old buildings with civic roles and then people got down in earnest to discussing the next steps.

Everyone determined that the Victoria Hall will carry on functioning as a community resource

The dominant issue was how to stop the hall being boarded up and neglected when Radstock Town Council moves out at the end of February. Everyone was agreed that the current users of the hall should be enabled to continue their activities and that there was a need to encourage others. At the very end of the meeting, an interim Management Group was created. It will be meeting this week, under the acting chairmanship of Rupert Bevan, to plan the next steps and put activities on a more formal footing.

The meeting also welcomed local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg who took time out from his Saturday schedule to drop into the event, catch up on the lively debate and pledge his support for efforts to save the Victoria Hall for the community.

People who couldn't make it on Saturday can still get involved - everyone will get a chance to take part in looking after the Victoria Hall and making it a landmark building to be even more proud of.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[20th January 2012]: Saving the Victoria Hall 21 January 2012

What's next for Radstock?

SAVING THE VICTORIA HALL
A day organised by Radstock Action Group
Saturday 21 January 2012
10.00am – 2.30pm
(Doors open 9.30am)
Radstock Working Men's Club

The final line up for our event tomorrow can be found at: www.radstockactiongroup.org.uk/downloads/Saving_the_Victoria_Hall_Programme.pdf.

We are particularly pleased to welcome Ian Lund and Varian Tye who, between them, boast in-depth knowledge and vast experience of our local heritage.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[16th January 2012]: Cabinet decision to accept road proposals - the fight to save Radstock goes on

CABINET CLAIMS THEY HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE MAJORITY OF RADSTOCK PEOPLE

When BANES Cabinet met last week and approved unpopular proposals to impose a set of traffic arrangements on the centre of Radstock, no-one was particularly surprised as Cabinet members had been making it clear that they were intent on voting their flawed plans through regardless of the opposition.

The Cabinet meeting itself was little more than a charade for the councillors who tried to convince the meeting, with their series of often heard mantras, that the plans had the support of the majority of people in Radstock, that there had been a meaningful consultation and that their proposals would bring regeneration to the town.

LIB DEMS FAIL TO PRODUCE EVIDENCE TO BACK UP THEIR CLAIMS

They have failed to produce any evidence in support of any of these three assertions, or their other claims, which have been characterized by their lack of accuracy and their denial of the force of the many arguments which have been put forward against the plans. Those who oppose the plans know that they will render Radstock unsafe and ultimately an empty shell as people seek to avoid the town owing to poor traffic flow, lack of parking and poorer shopping facilities.

RADSTOCK IS FIGHTING BACK

Individuals have already started telling councillors how shocked they are by the decision. Everyone in Radstock is in favour of regeneration, despite the Lib Dems suggesting that those who oppose their plans are not. Most people know equally well that the current proposals will do nothing to help the town. It is time for real consultation to start. The businesses, residents and those who shop in and visit the town are those who are best equipped to plan their own future and we hope that before long, everyone can be asked real questions in meaningful, joined up and holistic strategic planning. The Lib Dems claim they are listening - if they are, they are listening and then just carrying on regardless with their plans.

CALL-IN REQUIRED

BANES councillors can arrange a call-in for the decision - it requires ten signatures and we hope that there will be ten councillors willing to give Radstock a chance to prosper rather than watching as the heart of the town is irreversibly damaged by this set of proposals.

CABINET DECISION IS UNWISE, UNSAFE AND BASED ON HALF TRUTHS

  • No independent safety audit has been done
  • The 'consultation' questions did not ask for views on the real issues which had led to the decision being deferred last year in the face of massive opposition
  • Cllr Crossley (leader) has said there will be no road if there are no houses - so why is a decision being made at this point, given that there is no 'live' planning application in existence?
  • Why did Cabinet hear that only 17 parking spaces would be lost when we know that the only way of arriving at this number is by counting all parking spaces on any new development as public spaces? If homes are ever built, they will have no dedicated parking spaces, residents will have to park on the public highway where the number of spaces will be fewer than now
  • 2000 people signed the RAG petition against the road

And so on ...

MORATORIUM REQUESTED

In a separate move, local resident, Rupert Bevan and eleven other individuals* wrote to BANES Council Leader, Paul Crossley, last Monday to request that there should be a one year moratorium on all decisions and implementation of decisions already made in relation to the road system and the proposed development of the NRR site and wider conservation area. They proposed setting up a company for which the first remit will be the drawing up of a redevelopment plan with inputs from as many appropriately qualified professionals as necessary. This will ensure that the plan will work and reflect best practice for regeneration purposes. The letter states that contributions will be welcomed from local people, planning and legal professionals, civil engineers and those involved in commerce, together with those who have a commitment to preserving the town’s heritage.

* Other signatories are George Bailey, Jackie Bevan, Mike Boulton, Heather Chipperfield, Gary Dando, Lady Hylton, Andrew Jolliffe, Royston Knight, Amanda Leon, Roger Mansell and Carol Warriner.

The heart of Radstock, the best preserved mining town centre in the country, must be saved. We look forward to good sense prevailing and we will continue to organize against these ill-thought out plans. We encourage everyone to speak up for Radstock now.

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[16th January 2012]: Saving the Victoria Hall - a one day event on Saturday 21 January - Organised by Radstock Action Group

Saturday 21 January 2012
Radstock Working Men's Club
10.00am - 2.30pm
(Doors open 9.30am)
Speakers
Refreshments

Everyone welcome
Discuss and Share Ideas; Get Involved
Help plan and organize

Radstock's Victoria Hall has a long history, it has been a part of the development and social life of Radstock for well over a hundred years. Not to mention being home to many organizations, including a series of local councils.

Radstock Action Group is convinced it has a lively and positive future but that time is running out, as it gets dilapidated and then unfit for use. The town needs a properly equipped civic building that everyone can feel proud of.

Bringing it up to a standard which reflects today's community and their need for a whole range of twenty-first century facilities needs ideas, commitment and energy - all of which are to be found in Radstock in large amounts.

This day aims to get more people involved, tease out more ideas of what the buildings should be used for and, inevitably, how everything can be financed.

Café? Tourist information? Offices and Work Space? Art Exhibitions? Spaces for dance and other classes? Film shows? Niche shops? Council Chamber? A place for weddings and parties? Reading room? Snooker? Combinations of two or more of these? And Others?

Everyone is welcome.

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


[9th January 2012]: BANES Cabinet Meeting and the Traffic Regulation Orders - RAG will attend - and oppose

BANES Cabinet please note: the Current Road Proposals are not the Answer

At this Wednesday's (January 11) Cabinet meeting, councillors are being asked to approve the latest version of the Road Traffic Orders which will effectively decide the future of Radstock town centre. They will introduce two way traffic in The Street, they will reverse the traffic flow in Fortescue Road and they will retain the new road through the town centre in front of the Victoria Hall - something that they claimed originally was only needed because they had to close the Frome Road.

Radstock Action Group will be attending the meeting and speaking against these proposals which, to all intents and purposes, remain very similar to the first version which was roundly rejected last autumn. The decision not to close Frome Road was a major step forward, but unfortunately the Council has not followed through on this positive decision and is persisting with ill-thought out proposals which will jeopardise the regeneration of the town by deterring people from coming into the new traffic system which, contrary to Council assertions, will create serious obstacles to the use of the shops and other amenities and ultimately lead to the town being deserted by many current users.

Keep asking questions till you get an answer you want

The BANES press release issued last week stated that 'all the questions in the consultation received majority support'. Quite so, but they were questions which dodged the key issues to which people are opposed. It certainly seems that the Council decided to continue asking fairly random questions until they could state that they had got approval. A familiar old trick ...

Additionally, BANES has not published the responses which they received in addition to the questionnaire answers. RAG knows that a substantial number of people wrote in (as invited to do on the questionnaire) but we cannot obtain clarification as to whether these comments have been made available to councillors or the wider public. And above all, Radstock deserves a joined up plan which puts Radstock first.

Saving the Victoria Hall

One key way of enhancing Radstock will be through the regeneration of the Victoria Hall,. We invite everyone to come and discuss the options for this, our key civic building, at our forthcoming event:

SAVING THE VICTORIA HALL
Saturday 21 January
10.00 - 2.30
Radstock Working Men's Club
Everyone welcome

This event will provide an opportunity to look at the options for what goes on in the hall, for its funding and for who should and could get involved in day to day activity. the hall is in a bad state of repair and needs considerable updating but it can provide a centre for a wide range of events and activities which can only benefit Radstock. Your expertise and ideas are needed.

Press release issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group