Campaigning for the positive and sustainable development of Radstock

News Archive - Page 5

Feedback from Event No.1: What people said on the Post-It notes - 18th March 2011

As a follow-up to the first What's Next 4 Radstock event, click here to view comments posted on the day via Post-It notes.


PRESS RELEASE: Lively and productive day at Radstock Action Group's Energy and Environment Event leads to new ideas for action and working together - 14th March 2011

Radstock Action Group's second event in their series 'What's Next for Radstock?' looked at the two issues of renewable energy and natural environment.

Over 30 people attended the event at the Working Men's Club on March 5. It was great to welcome people from a range of places, and not just Radstock. These included Bathampton, Bristol, Camerton, Frome, Midsomer Norton, Peasdown St John, Trowbridge and Wells. We were treated to a series of informative and encouraging talks from the Centre for Sustainable Energy, The Converging World, BANES Sustainability, Cam Valley Wildlife Group, Camerton Batch Group and Buglife.

A businesslike day soon got cracking with everyone getting involved, sharing experiences and making links with other similarly-minded people from all round the area. The speakers all fielded detailed questions both during their presentations and during the brief intervals. There quite simply wasn't enough time.

The question of sustainable energy was introduced by Simon Lewin who got everyone talking around the CSE model which illustrates the range of options open to any settlement seeking to improve their carbon reduction credentials. This was followed by more practical information and suggestions from Matt Wood (The Converging World) and Kathy Tate (BANES' Community Sustainability Officer).

People were able to get links to organizations and programmes which support efforts both locally and globally to reduce carbon emissions. Hopefully, the wide geographical representation will enable us to talk, in the future, in a more joined up way about combining initiatives.

In the afternoon session, Deborah Porter (CVWG) talked about the challenges, riches and diversity of wildlife on brownfield sites, Tony Fry introduced us to the amazing efforts of local people which have resulted in Camerton Batch being a wildlife haven and much more, and finally, Sue Walton, from Buglife, spoke about campaigning to protect biodiversity and encouraged everyone to value and campaign for the protection of the very valuable species which inhabit the Radstock rail land.

The message was loud and clear – people can get involved in many ways, and there are many small actions and activities which anyone can participate in and make a difference. You don’t have to be an expert and you can seek help and advice from the real experts like our speakers on the day.

Radstock Action Group is looking forward to using this expertise and the ideas shared on the day. Links to all the organisations can be found on our website in the section dealing with March 5: www.radstockactiongroup.org.uk/what_next_4_radstock.php.

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


PRESS RELEASE: New developer sighted in Radstock? - 7th March 2011

If it wasn't for the fact that a member of Radstock Action Group happened to see a load of official-looking people hanging about on the NRR land last week, we probably still wouldn't know that there appears to be a new developer signed up for the railway land. We have reason to believe that the developer is Linden Homes and we have written to them for clarification and asking if we can talk to them. We are awaiting a response.

Transparency and consultation please

But Radstock Action Group is dismayed that, once again, Radstock people are the last to be told what is happening to their town. The lack of transparency and consultation is still shocking, although it is what we have come to expect where the NRR and BANES are involved. We do not think it is acceptable that we all rely on chance sightings, the bush telegraph and our supporters in various places, to get to know what is going on. Given the amount of frustration caused by previous lack of consultation and transparency, the authority and the NRR should surely have learnt that they need to be upfront with what is going on.

NO to a new road through the town centre

Whatever the truth is, Radstock Action Group will continue to campaign against the new road which threatens the town centre, its buildings, its traders and residents. It must not go ahead. Despite numerous requests, most recently to John Betty, BANES Head of Major Projects, for the results of the latest traffic survey, we have heard nothing and we have a very strong suspicion that this is because the survey showed that the new road and adjacent reorganisation of traffic would be unworkable. Try as they do, they cannot make the results support the proposals.

Radstock - a town with an exciting future

Radstock Action Group is working to make the town a healthy and sustainable place to live and work. We aim to treasure our natural and built environment as key assets which will achieve this and encourage the growing number of tourists who find their way to the town whether by visiting the museum, cycling along our cycle tracks or hearing about the valuable conservation area and very special brownfield biodiversity in the town centre.

Radstock Action Group is interested in working with all groups and individuals who put Radstock first.

We have contributed to all the consultations on the strategies being planned by BANES; we have hosted meetings with key figures, our campaigns have encouraged new traffic surveys to be undertaken and we champion the natural and built environment, including continuing plans to refurbish the Victoria Hall and make it central to the needs of Radstock residents, businesses and visitors. And we think that before anything else we need serious infrastructure proposals. As a group we have watched with pleasure the growing support for our campaign for the reinstatement of the rail link to Frome and believe that this will kickstart the town's revival more than any other single item. We are building a wide network of supporters and experts who are all contributing to a new vision for the town, before it is too late.

Press Release issued by Amanda Leon on behalf of Radstock Action Group on 7 March 2011


STOP PRESS: New Developer in Town? - 6th March 2011

Although we have seen no public statement or confirmation, Radstock Action Group understands that the NRR has signed up a new developer for the railway land. We have written to them (click here to read the letter (58Kb pdf) asking if we can meet them.

Any news will, of course, be on our dedicated NRR Railway Land page.


Press Release: The Energy and Environment Challenge in Radstock and the Somer Valley - 27th February 2011

When energy and the environment come up for discussion, everyone has a view - and the views provoke huge debate and interest, and often controversy, all of which will undoubtedly feature in a day of discussion and ideas in Radstock on Saturday 5 March.

Date: Saturday 5 March 2011
Time: 10am - 2:30pm
Venue: Radstock Working Men's Club

March 5 Event Poster

Radstock Action Group has gathered together a really impressive array of expert specialist speakers and participating organisations for this important event, including the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Converging World, Buglife and Cam Valley Wildlife Trust.

We hope that it will provide plenty of opportunities to find out how individuals and organizations can get involved in championing renewable energy and looking after the natural environment. It looks like being a lively debate. To view the full programme go to: www.radstockactiongroup.org.uk/downloads/March_5_Programme.pdf.

Why Attend?

The Somer Valley has been identified as a possible Renewable Energy Action Area and everyone's ideas are important. One person may think that a wind turbine is the last thing we need? Or the first? Perhaps you want to know who's right about solar panels? Or maybe how we can make our homes more energy efficient? These and many more questions will be part of the day.

And so will the complementary issues of Protecting the Natural Environment and Celebrating Biodiversity - key issues in this period of climate change and encroachment on natural habitats. The Somer Valley has lots of special areas, not least the Brownfield sites left by our industrial past. How and why should we protect them?

The latest addition to the list of speakers is Sue Walton, a trustee of Buglife, who will talk about the importance of Brownfield Habitats for invertebrates, and why they are under threat.

We invite everyone to come and join the debates - they promise to be lively and informative - and not without controversy. And we hope that people will go away with plenty of new ideas for how they can join in the future sustainable development of the Somer Valley.

Further details can be found on our website at: www.radstockactiongroup.org.uk/what_next_4_radstock.php.

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


Press Release: The second in a series of What's Next for Radstock? Events organised by Radstock Action Group - 20th February 2011

The Energy and Environment Challenge for Radstock and the Somer Valley

Date: Saturday 5 March 2011
Time: 10am - 2:30pm
Venue: Radstock Working Men's Club

Everyone welcome.

Radstock Action Group has put together an exciting programme for their latest public event.

Simon Lewin of the Centre for Sustainable Energy - will be bringing the Centre's brilliant scale model of all the energy generation options that are around and talking them through with everyone.

Matt Wood from The Converging World which takes action on climate change and sustainable community development. His job is to work with communities to take practical steps to help them become more sustainable.

Kathy Tate, BANES Community Sustainability Officer will explain what the Authority is doing and how they can help you to save energy and contribute to sustainability.

Participants will have plenty of opportunities to ask questions and comment.

But this is not just an event for Radstock. We are hoping that people from all over the Somer Valley will attend and that the day will contribute to the declared aim of the Somer Valley becoming a Renewable Energy Action Area (as proposed in the Draft Core Strategy).

You may already be convinced that as Climate Change is with us, we need to take action, or perhaps you don't know where to start, or maybe you're an out and out sceptic. Whatever your views you are welcome and we know that you'll find lots to get you thinking.

The focus will then shift to the Environment and we'll be looking at the biodiversity and special aspects of brown field sites and other areas in Radstock which contribute to a complex and positive ecology in the town. And how we can safeguard it.

Also at the event:

  • Lots of displays
  • Refreshments
  • Opportunities to meet new people and find out about organisations that you might like to get involved in

The event is free, but we will be nudging everyone to contribute to the costs of organisating the day, if possible.

Anyone wishing to put up a display can contact RAG via the website.

Further Speaker Details:

Simon Lewin is Head of Technical Consultancy & Training at the Centre for Sustainable Energy, the Bristol-based national charitable organisation, which was established in 1979 to help people and organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors meet the twin challenges of rising energy costs and climate change. Simon has extensive technical expertise of renewable energy systems and over 20 years consultancy experience. He leads CSE’s technical expertise and is responsible for maintaining CSE’s national reputation for delivering technically robust sustainable energy initiatives, advice, training and consultancy services.

Matt Wood has an academic background in chemistry and physics, receiving a PhD in 2008. After a period with an environmental consultancy preparing energy certificates for public sector buildings he moved to The Converging World to work mainly on their UK Engagement Programme. He focuses on working with communities to take practical steps to help them become more sustainable.

Press Release Issued on 20 February 2011 by Amanda Leon on behalf of Radstock Action Group


PRESS RELEASE: WHAT'S NEXT FOR RADSTOCK? Part 2: Energy and the Environment (Saturday 5th March) - 31st January 2011

Following on from our very successful event in November, Radstock Action Group is please to announce that the next event in this series will concentrate on:

  • Energy, including the possibility of Radstock being part of an energy action area to promote sustainable energy and zero carbon targets
  • The environment paying particular attention to the wealth of the local natural environment, how brownfield sites, which abound in Radstock, can be amongst the most important for wildlife, offering unique and positive habitats and looking at how these natural assets can be used to enhance the lives of people living and working in Radstock as well as contributing to the growth of tourism which is a key aspect of the town's future.

Date: Saturday 5 March 2011
Time: 10am - 2:30pm
Venue: Radstock Working Men's Club

We are delighted to confirm that speakers from the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Buglife will be lead one session each.

Local groups are welcome to display information at the event.

Refreshments will be available.

Everyone welcome.

Further details will follow. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions at this stage.

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


PRESS RELEASE: Radstock - Frome Rail Campaign Gathers Pace as BANES Strategy Lingers in the Doldrums - 25th January 2011

BANES Draft Core Strategy which will determine the future strategy direction of the authority until 2026 is currently out for public consultation (see: www.bathnes.gov.uk/environmentandplanning/planning/localdevelopmentscheme/pages/corestrategy.aspx). Radstock Action Group is looking at how it can be given some backbone.

This has coincided with the need for BANES to agree the West of England Partnership Joint Local Transport Plan 3, which also takes planning up to 2026.

Radstock Action Group is particularly disappointed at BANES Bath-centric approach and its total refusal to plan seriously not just for Radstock but for the whole of the Somer Valley area. That is why we are continuing to point to the need for the reinstatement of the rail link between Radstock and Frome and for this to be included in the Core Strategy.

At the same time, there is encouraging and growing support for this campaign - our major points are to be found in two statements we have recently made: one to BANES full council on 20 January and the other to the West of England Partnership. (See documents below.)

BANES Council 20 January 2011 - Statement by Radstock Action Group on Agenda Item 7 (30Kb pdf)

The Importance of the Reinstatement of the Rail Link between Radstock and Frome - A Statement by Radstock Action Group - 21 January 2011 (35Kb pdf)

Amanda Leon, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


PRESS RELEASE: The Core Strategy - latest round - Radstock Action Group recommends caution ... - 29th November 2010

A Preliminary Response to Bath and North East Somerset Core Strategy Appendix 3 to Council Report 2nd December 2010

Radstock Action Group has had a preliminary read of the latest version of the Core Strategy.

Whilst it is very satisfying to see Radstock highlighted as having particular strengths including a rich heritage; an outstanding natural environment; good education and a varied retail offer, we are still worried that the reality of future policy implementation, only hinted at in the document, will do nothing to protect let alone enhance the town’s many strengths.

The document acknowledges some risks including ‘the highway network whereby the town is situated at the meeting point of a number of busy roads’; ‘the potential flood risk’ and thirdly, ‘limited development opportunity sites to achieve overall ambitions for the town’.

However, it is what has not been said, rather than what has which is worrying. For example, how can a document which acknowledges the problems created by excessive road traffic, fail to mention alternative solutions, and continue tacitly to support a project which will make matters even worse – namely the rerouting of the Frome Road, right through the middle of the town?

Members of Radstock Action Group will be putting forward some of their points at the BANES Council Meeting on Thursday 2 December and hope that the council will accept our suggestions to make the document more relevant to Radstock.

According to the latest edition of Inform (BANES email bulletin to the public) sent out on 25 November, the current document, ‘will guide planning up until 2026 ... [and will] also help to unlock the future economic potential of the area by proposing up to 11,000 new homes and 8,700 new jobs.’ But there is simply far too much room for change, doing nothing or simply doing something completely different.

A number of points are central to our worries:

  1. Radstock has no detailed business plan owing to the failure of NewMasterPlanning to fulfil their brief which was to look at the future of each of the three market towns: Radstock, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton. They failed to produce anything for Radstock
  2. The status of Radstock as a market town is not adequately addressed
  3. Sustainability and economic development are both key issues for Radstock. The reintroduction of the rail link between Radstock and Frome is probably the single item most likely to kickstart the economy. But this doesn't appear in the Core Strategy
  4. Radstock was, earlier on in this process, identified as a sustainable and renewable energy hub by BANES but this seems to have slipped out of the frame, with Radstock being submerged by a more generalized series of proposals
  5. Radstock’s unique heritage features but the lack of policies to protect and enhance it suggest that these same mentions are mere lip service

We note the following: ’Particular assets include the museum, historic buildings such as the Brunel Shed and other former railway routes. Victoria Hall, the key municipal building reflects the height of Radstock’s industrial past and continues in community use to this day’.

We hope that when it comes to supporting Radstock’s ambitions to protect and enhance our town that these will prove to be statements which the planners stand by. But what are we to make of, for example, ‘The built form should retain its historical and architectural value and development should attempt (our italics) to integrate these features ...’ ?

The real problem is that there is no commitment to any of the ideas, just an acknowledgement that they exist. We are not yet convinced they will be supported. We welcome the fact that Radstock is now identified as a town with potential and many business, cultural and natural assets and we will continue to talk to everyone concerned and hope for further clarification and a chance to put our ideas into practice.

A Note about the Timescale

  • On 25 November, BANES published, on-line, the latest version of the Core Strategy
  • On 2 December the full Council will be asked to approve it
  • If it is agreed, it will be put out to public consultation starting, reportedly, on 17 December and running for eight weeks – at least three of which coincide with the annual period of least activity for offices and individuals.

Hopefully everyone will get involved in the next stages.

The document can be viewed by clicking here.

Press release issued on 29 November 2010 by Amanda Leon (Secretary) on behalf of Radstock Action Group


Support Radstock Youth Centre: Update - 23rd November 2010

Lively demonstration at the BANES Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting. Click here to read the update.


SAVE RADSTOCK YOUTH CLUB - MONDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2010

Join the protest - support Radstock Youth Club. 4.30pm onwards - The Guildhall, Bath. Click here for more information.


What's Next for Radstock? Preliminary Report - 11th November 2010

Click here for the What's Next for Radstock? Preliminary Report.


Press Release: UPDATE: What's Next for Radstock? Organised by Radstock Action Group - 2nd November 2010

Date: Saturday 6 November
Time: Doors open 9.30am for 10.00am start
Venue: Radstock Working Men's Club

UPDATE

  • We are delighted that the lead speaker on the reinstatement of the rail link will be Bernard Lane, the chair of Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways, who will will speak about their experience of supporting rail and suggest what the key issues are for us in Radstock
  • An additional film, on Blatchford's Liner Crane (Ralph Blatchford Engineering), will be viewable on the day
  • Creativity Works is the latest organisation to confirm that it will be running a display on the day
  • The event will feature on BBC Radio Somerset on the morning of Saturday 6 November.

We look forward to welcoming everyone on the day.

Issued by Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group.


Press Release: What's Next for Radstock? An event organised by Radstock Action Group - 31st October 2010

Yes - Next Saturday! Not to be missed.

Date: Saturday 6 November
Time: Doors open 9.30am for 10.00am start
Venue: Radstock Working Men's Club
Programme: Click here to download programme (110Kb pdf)

EVERYONE WELCOME

Radstock Action Group is looking forward to welcoming everyone to What's Next for Radstock? a chance to exchange ideas about some of the many possible, exciting developments that could impact on the town. Everyone has a view on the Victoria Hall - how can we make sure it's put to good use; we've found a Somerset town, Martock, that's got a treasured building back to work - come and hear how they did it and what we can learn for Radstock.

Then join the hot debate about what sort of rail link we want for Radstock to Frome - everyone's got a view on this too!

A lively day is guaranteed. Don't miss it.

In addition to the formal sessions, there will be a range of displays including:

  • Radstock Youth Centre with its display on their gardening and food growing project
  • Clandown Residents will be showing off their design for the Community Space
  • RailFuture - the independent campaign for a better passenger and freight rail network - with lots of information
  • The Community Chroniclers Project which recently made two films - one 'Next Stop Radstock?' wiith Radstock Action Group and one about the Education Work of Radstock Museum - your chance to see both films and find out how Community Chroniclers, with support from the Lottery, works and how Radstock got involved
  • Post-industrial Land and Biodiversity

PROGRAMME

09.30 – 10.00 Doors open

10.00 – 10.30 Arrivals, Refreshments and Welcome

10.30 – 11.30 SAVING IMPORTANT BUILDINGS FOR THE COMMUNITY
The Victoria Hall is just one of our local buildings in need of TLC and a new role in the town. A chance to take stock and look to a future for our local historic buildings. Hear how another town set about putting one of their key buildings back to work.

Roger Powell, Chairman of Martock Parish Council will talk on 'The restoration of Martock's historic Market House to create a Local Information Centre'.
Martock is a Somerset town which has successfully brought its Market House back to life - Roger will explain how they did it and what is going on now. Expect to be inspired! Followed by questions and discussion.

11.30 – 12.00 Break with refreshments

12.00 – 13.00 NEXT STOP RADSTOCK?
What can the reinstatement of the railway between Radstock and Frome bring to Radstock? Will it really be able to kickstart regeneration? Hear from a range of contributors on what the challenges are. Followed by questions and discussion.

13.00 – 13.30 Closing discussion & suggestions for the future
See our films and displays, stick your own post-it suggestions on our suggestions wall, meet other Radstock groups and people.

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


Press Release: What's Next for Radstock: Saturday 6th November - 11th October 2010

Saturday 6th November
10am - 2pm
Radstock Working Men's Club

This event will provide an opportunity to hear how other people have successfully improved their own towns and amenities. And for sharing of ideas and information about Radstock and its exciting future.

With speakers, discussion, displays and refreshments.

Everyone is welcome. Drop in or stay for the whole event.

Amongst the speakers will be: Roger Powell, Chairman of Martock Parish Council, who will talk on 'The restoration of Martock's historic Market House to create a Local Information Centre'.

Martock is a Somerset town which has successfully brought its Market House back to life - Roger Powell will explain how they did it and what is going on now. There will be plenty of opportunities to ask him questions and talk about how this experience might be relevant to Radstock.

The second major area of discussion for the day will be about the possibilities provided by restoring the rail link. Further details in our next press release.

Issued on behalf of Radstock Action Group by Amanda Leon (Secretary)


RAG's Response to the West of England Partnership Draft Joint Local Transport Plan 3 - 5th October 2010

Click here to download the document (101Kb pdf)


PRESS RELEASE: WHAT'S NEXT 4 RADSTOCK? Radstock Action Group Planning a Series of Events about the Future of the Town - 4th October 2010

Radstock Action Group is planning a series of events around the regeneration and future of the town and is inviting groups and individuals to get involved. To get ideas flowing, each event will feature one or more guest speakers who will talk about their own successes in regenerating their towns, covering aspects of regeneration which are 'in the frame' for Radstock.

These events will be on Saturdays.

Details of the first day:

  • Guest speakers will make presentations on how they succeeded in redeveloping important aspects of their own towns and communities
  • The first subjects are:
    • Renewal and use of town centre buildings
    • Rail transport
  • Ample time for discussion on how Radstock can benefit from such success stories
  • Displays
  • Opportunities for your own ideas and comments
  • Refreshments
  • There will be no charge for attending and everyone will be welcome to come for the whole event or to drop in.

Date: Saturday 6th November
Time: 10am - 2pm
Venue: Radstock Working Men's Club

Many things are changing for Radstock at the moment: the reorganisation of the NRTC; the £1m Lottery award; the withdrawal of Bellway; Radstock being in the frame to be a renewable energy hub.

We hope that this series will be a golden opportunity to clarify views as a community and that everyone will join in this morning of activities.

For further information see the website or phone 01761 433070.

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


Press Release Radstock Action Group railway film gets first showing - 20th September 2010

Radstock Action Group film, 'Next Stop Radstock' had its first public showing on Saturday, at Radstock Museum as part of the Arts Festival. The film has been made with the direct support of Community Chroniclers. Following our press appeal for help, many local people came forward and the end result is a film which looks at both the history of the railway in the town and the future for it. It includes contributions by people who remember working and travelling on the railway, by Radstock Youth Centre and many others. Professionally edited for Windrose Rural media Trust, it can also be viewed by clicking here.

We now have many hours of valuable film and are currently looking at ways of using it, since this short piece is just a fraction of the wonderful memories and ideas captured during the making of the film. A big thank you to everyone!

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


Press Release Bellway's Departure Provides New Opportunities - 20th September 2010

Bellway's decision to withdraw from Radstock is not a time for cheap jibes and point-scoring. All those who really are interested in the regeneration of Radstock must get together and ensure that the centre of town can be developed as a sustainable, prosperous and unique focal point for those who live and work in the area.

Radstock Action Group looks forward to a meaningful consultation between all parties, and a set of goals which will reflect the longstanding consensus on what is needed to ensure the town's future. We welcome the opportunity to get things right for Radstock but believe the NRR must be replaced as it has proved itself unable to be responsible for such significant and strategic planning. It has failed to deliver, spent millions of public money and has an exceptionally poor reputation for consulting and taking on board local views.

The key to successful regeneration is that the new road through the centre must be discarded. The NRR, Bellway and BANES have each said that although they individually are opposed to the road, they could not go against the wishes of the other parties. Radstock Action Group has repeatedly invited the parties to sit down and agree to have a rethink - with one of them already gone, the road scheme should be abandoned without further delay and a way found to straighten out the roundabouts and adjust the Frome Road by addressing the substation at the corner of Fortescue Road.

The future transport needs of the town and the surrounding are will be better served by the reinstatement of the railway between Radstock and Frome - this can now be properly factored into future plans for regeneration. The railway and enhanced bus facilities, combined with minimal retail and office space will serve the future of Radstock very well.

Radstock needs affordable housing of good quality, meeting the finest and most up-to-date standards set down by the housing authorities. Homes must not be built on ecologically sensitive sites subject to periodic flooding. Any central development must avoid the overcrowding of the Bellway proposals and be in keeping with the outstanding conservation area that is the centre of Radstock, and reflecting the 'white lias context'. Any new housing built anywhere, must be energy efficient and ensure maximum use of renewables. We entirely reject the idea that a new developer should be allowed to continue with the plans now abandoned by Bellway.

We very much regret some of the sniping which followed Bellway's withdrawal and understand that Bellway has issued a statement denying they had ever refered to an obstructive minority. It is clear that their decision was made on strictly commercial grounds: building costs (including de-contamination) have risen.

It is to be hoped that everyone can now join a constructive programme of planning and consultation which will enhance the beautiful town centre and restore the natural environment so that it can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

The economic case for the forward-looking regeneration of the town has never been stronger; BANES is encouraging it becoming a renewable energy hub, the Lottery has awarded £1 million towards town improvements and there is an encouraging number of groups putting forward positive ideas and proposals. The future is going to be exciting.

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


Press Release: Reconnecting Radstock to the National Rail Network - 28th August 2010

A comment on the Light Rail Proposal

Radstock Action Group wants to see the reinstatement of a full-scale rail service between Radstock and Frome thus linking Radstock with mainline services to London, the South Coast and the South West. This will encourage more businesses and visitors to town and will be a great help to Radstock residents who wish to travel outside the town, for work or leisure purposes, without getting stuck in the road traffic to Bath. A minimum service between Radstock and Kilmersdon will be well worth exploring, but will ultimately not be enough to facilitate the regeneration of Radstock.

We are pleased that the need for public transport infrastructure is increasingly recognised and we will continue to argue for the original track bed to be maintained so that a good, modern rail service can be reinstated. We would be delighted if the NRR would consider joining our discussions about this, as well as investigating this light rail proposal.

Last week it was reported that NRR had formed a partnership with LCT to build a demonstration light railway from Radstock to Kilmersdon. While we are naturally pleased about the change of heart by NRR. Radstock Action Group has serious misgivings about the concept.

The proposal does not constitute a Route Utilisation Strategy and would not alleviate traffic congestion in the area and would, therefore, be a wasted budget expense.

If the road plan for NRR did go ahead, and causes the traffic problems which have already been identified, the need for a full rail service would be even more pressing.

There are a number of very specific matters which need to be considered:

  1. Unless the demand for such a limited service can be demonstrated then the project would be destined to remain nothing more than a demonstration line.
  2. There appear to be a suggestion that the ultimate destination could be Frome. This poses questions which should be answered sooner rather than later: 2.1 If a separate terminus is proposed in Frome, there would again be the question of potential usage. Our discussions have shown that the majority of interest for the re-instatement of the line comes from the possibility of opening up ready access to the South West, the South Coast, London Paddington and in fact the entire national network. A separate terminus would preclude easy interchange. 2.2 If is intended to run into the existing Frome station, very great expenditure will be incurred at Frome. 2.3 It would not be possible to run beyond to Westbury as such a low-speed vehicle could not be pathed on the main line, where it would compete with High Speed Trains. Statistics show that passenger numbers reduce in proportion to the number of changes required (think of the rushed commuter or the harassed mother with a push-chair and two children!).
  3. The land was safeguarded by B&NES for use by sustainable transport.
  4. We wonder where the regeneration is in this very limited proposal. Regeneration will always depend on good transport infrastructure for in and outbound commuting, tourism, business and leisure, rather than a small idea such as this.
  5. Assuming that the goal can only be Frome, it should be appreciated that it is not comparable to Stourbridge, which has been mentioned as a good model for this proposal. The Stourbridge project line directly connects an existing main line station to the town using track and infrastructure left by Network Rail.
  6. Gail Coleshill's earlier comment (“the Radstock to Frome track and maybe a branch to Swindon”) eliminates use of the Parry People Mover, because, as explained earlier, its low speed would not permit it to run on the main line.
  7. There are already many volunteer organisations which operate throughout the South West to improve and promote use of rail travel. Since the relevant Train Operating Company benefits through increased custom and the local Authority benefits through lower support requirements, grants can be made to these groups to cover costs.

We need to establish the business case for the reconnecting and reinstatement of the link to national rail which would bring real regeneration to the town. We look forward to discussions with any body which could contribute to this aim.

Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


Press Release: That £1 Million - A vote of confidence in Radstock - 2nd August 2010

The award of £1 million BIG Lottery money to Radstock is great news - of course the money itself is the key, but in addition, it signals that Radstock is seen to have the potential to develop and improve. The award will give the town a chance to plan its future rather than simply responding in a piecemeal way to local 'issues' as they arise.

When you read the guidelines the major aims become clear and they are very good news for Radstock. The aim is to enable the community to identify its own needs and take action to address them; people will be able to gain new skills to help in the development of the town and at the end of the ten year period, people will feel that the town is a better place to live in.

This is all about the community and recognises that 'thousands of individuals and enterprises are already working ... from day to day, improving things. they need support that recognises and builds their strengths, gives them the resources to go further, and helps others to come forward and do their bit'.

With such a fantastic vote of confidence, Radstock can look forward to change and regeneration in which the community has a real voice. No-one is suggesting that this will replace all the hard work and activity taking place in the town, it is a very exciting opportunity to improve the quality of life for the whole community.

Radstock Action Group is keen to be involved at all ways possible and we are looking forward to working with everyone else. It is going to take the best part of a year to get the larger national trust in place but now is the time to start thinking over how we can get the most out of this opportunity.

LOCAL ENERGY CHAMPIONS TRAINING TO START

The guest at Radstock Action Group's meeting last week was Kathy Tate, BANES Community Sustainability Officer. As a result of the discussion, we agreed that we would work with Kathy to organise training for local Energy Champions.

On 18 August up to twenty people will have the chance to learn about conducting simple energy checks in the community and enabling individual households to cut back on energy use, thus saving money. We are particularly proud that we will be Kathy's first group, her guinea pigs for this programme. Anyone interested in taking part can contact us via the website for further details.

Amanda Leon, Secretary, on behalf of Radstock Action Group


Next RAG Meeting: Renewable Energy and Radstock - 22nd July 2010

We are delighted that the speaker at our next meeting will be Kathy Tate, Community Sustainability Officer for Bath and North East Somerset.

Kathy will outline developments she has been involved in since taking up her post earlier this year and discuss how we can advance the possible development of Radstock as a renewable energy town. We have already met with her on a couple of previous occasions and now need to get down to practicalities. She will be updating us on progress in other places.

Details as follows:

Date: Wednesday 28 July
Time: 7.45pm
Venue: Radstock Methodist Church (side entrance from The Street)
Topic: The future for sustainable Radstock, renewables and transition town developments
Speaker: Kathy Tate, Community Sustainability Officer for Bath and North East Somerset

Amanda Leon, Secretary, Radstock Action Group


Press Release: Case against B&NES Withdrawn - 18th July 2010

Deborah Porter has withdrawn her appeal against the decision not to allow a Judicial Review of the two B&NES decisions (at outline and reserved matters stages) to allow development on Radstock Railway Land.

She appealed the decision on the advice of her solicitors. Even though the barrister's view is that there is an arguable case, she has withdrawn because of difficulties is securing legal aid funding. Clearly it is not possible to proceed without such financial assistance. Costs incurred to date are in excess of £5,000.

Somer Valley Friends of the Earth is donating the remaining £200 of a grant obtained to help save the railway land's biological and community value and Radstock Action Group will raise funds to help cover the costs. Anyone who can help with fund-raising or would like to make a donation towards the legal costs can contact Deborah or Radstock Action Group, who will be pleased to hear from you.

Contact details: Deborah Porter on 01761 435563 or at Deborahwhitelands AT googlemail DOT com

Press release issued jointly by Deborah Porter and Amanda Leon on behalf of Radstock Action Group


Press Release: Election Candidates to Have Their Say - 18th July 2010

On Wednesday 21 July at 8pm, the four candidates running in the by-election for a a BANES Councillor for Radstock, will attend a public meeting organised by Radstock Action Group.

This is your chance to get to know the candidates and their views, hopes and plans for Radstock. There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions and make your views known to them. The are: Simon Allen (Lib Dem), Deirdre Horstmann (Conservative), Lesley Mansell (Labour) and Keith Pate (Independent).

Whether you think you've made up your mind who to vote for, or you still want to hear more, come to hear what promises to be a lively debate. This is a chance to get your concerns known to all the candidates. Don't miss it.

Date: Wednesday 21 July
Time: 8pm - 9.15pm
Venue: Radstock Methodist Church - The Street entrance

EVERYONE WELCOME

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


Communication to Varian Tye, BANES Senior Conservation Officer, reagrding the proposed demolition of key historic features of Radstock Railway - 14th July 2010

Click here to download this document (55Kb pdf)

Amanda Leon (on behalf of Radstock Action Group)


Press Release: Radstock by-election candidates public meeting - 11th July 2010

Organised by Radstock Action Group - EVERYONE WELCOME

Radstock Action Group has invited all the candidates running in the by-election of a new BANES Councillor for Radstock, to a public meeting. Here are the details:

Date: Wednesday 21st July
Time: 8pm to 9.15pm
Venue: Radstock Methodist Church Hall

Each candidate has been asked to introduce themselves and their plans and proposals. There will be ample opportunity for questions and comments from the floor.

We're looking forward to a lively debate and a chance for everyone to get to know the candidates.

Press release issued on 11 July 2010 by Amanda Leon (Secretary)
On behalf of Radstock Action Group


Press Release: Radstock Action Group invited to make film about railway - 21st June 2010

Radstock Action Group has been invited by the Community Chroniclers Project to make a short film about our interest in reinstating the railway link between Radstock and Frome. The aim of this exciting project will be to show the history and the future potential of the railway.

A project for future generations

  • Community Chroniclers' James Harrison, is working with Trilith (a rural media charity), putting together a series of projects involving communities in Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset.
  • James will train volunteers to use a film camera (he will carry out the editing) to capture events/projects that are happening today which will then form an archive for future generations. The final film we be around 3 to 4 minutes.
  • The films in Somerset will be history/heritage based and are funded by the Heritage Lottery Scheme.

How to get involved

  • We are planning to develop the project using interviews with people about what they would like to use the railway for; with those who remember it; stories around it; footage of the trains when the line was open before.
  • The aim will be to include this material in archive shows, on You Tube, on other websites etc.
  • DVD copies of all pieces and, wherever possible, the original camera tapes will be deposited in the county record office for preservation and viewing there. The footage will also be made available for viewing at Local Studies Libraries and will also be made available for use via our website.

Radstock Action Group need lots of information, ideas and suggestions and would like to hear from anyone who remembers the Radstock-Frome railway, especially if you worked or travelled on it, or remember hearing friends or family talking about it, or if you have any pictures or other related materials.

You can contact Radstock Action Group on 01761 433070 or via the website.

PRESS RELEASE issued by Amanda Leon, on behalf of Radstock Action Group. 21 June 2010


Press Release: NRR sounding hollow again - 17th May 2010

Radstock Action Group has read Cate Mack's attack on Deborah Porter (not named but described as 'a local environmental activist'). Quite apart from the extraordinary content, the general tone of Ms Mack's intervention raises serious questions about the competence of the NRR as a publicly-funded agency tasked with facilitating and funding regeneration for Radstock. It is essential that debates are not couched in terms of emotionally charged attacks on individuals since nothing can be gained from them and they simply discourage people from getting involved.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the NRR has seen fit to make personal attacks on individuals, rather than pursuing a programme of meaningful consultation and discussion with the residents and businesses of the town.

The letter seeks to give the impression that Deborah Porter is acting alone and that her concerns are hers alone. This is not the case and, as an organisation which is committed to getting the best ongoing regeneration package for Radstock, we wish to state that we are committed to seeking a just, transparent process that complies with the requirements of planning law and regulations.

We are very concerned that the Chair of the organisation charged with securing the regeneration of the town should be totally unable to appreciate and share our concerns about the environmental degradation which could result for the town if the whole project is not managed sensitively and in accordance with legal requirements.

It would be most unwise to go into the legal case at this point, since the matter is before a court and should be determined there, not through the columns of local newspapers. But we do wish to state that Radstock Action Group supports Deborah Porter and we deplore the attempts to portray her as irresponsible.

In answer to the question, 'Why no regeneration?', we suggest that the answer is to be found in the woeful lack of understanding of the regeneration needs of Radstock and the inability, in particular of NRR, BANES and Bellway, to develop realistic, imaginative and forward looking proposals which will meet the needs of local people and businesses and hence gain support.

In particular we would ask, not for the first time, that NRR:

  1. publishes the business case for their proposals for the regeneration of the town. We believe that the absence of this business case underlines the totally inappropriate nature of the current plans
  2. explains why their plans include the construction of a new main road through the centre of the town, when such a move goes against all current planning practice which is to keep through traffic outside town centres; when traders and the conservation area will be under threat from hugely increased noise and air pollution plus impact of the vibration from heavy multi-axle vehicles
  3. justifies its willingness to proceed with what amounts to little more than a crowded housing development which will not be matched by new jobs or appropriate infrastructure
  4. explains why it is satisfied with a project which will prevent the reinstatement of the rail link - a development which would fundamentally kickstart the regeneration of Radstock
  5. explains how it will work to enhance not only the natural environment of the area but also all the other assets which make Radstock a potential tourism hub
  6. indicates what it is doing to address the lack of credible data about traffic volume and flow - data which are essential to all proposals for transport development in the area
  7. states how it can justify the poor design and inadequate size of the many flats which it appears determined to cram onto the railway land which could be used in creative and positive ways
  8. accepts the historical value of the built environment in Radstock and publishes proposals for regenerating the Victoria Hall and supporting the protection of the entire conservation area
  9. makes clear its position on the Spatial Strategy suggestion to explore fully making Radstock a Renewable Energy Action Area.

Radstock Action Group will continue to work for the regeneration of Radstock just as we will continue to hope that the NRR will eventually realise that positive interaction with all the groups and individuals working to improve the town is far more productive than mounting ill-judged and inaccurate attacks on committed, informed and hard-working individuals.

Issued by Amanda Leon on behalf of Radstock Action Group


Press Release: Can Bellway/NRR respond to the exciting challenges open to Radstock now? - 11th April 2010

Radstock Action Group has taken a preliminary look at the latest planning application (10/00777/ RES) put in by Bellway/NRR for the Railway Land. We will be spending the next few weeks investigating the detail, but initial impressions are that the designs suffer from the same problems as the previous round. However, there are three important questions which arise and which we hope to see addressed:

  1. Planning ideas have moved on and now pay serious attention to sustainability issues and the real needs of those who will be living in any new accommodation. The designs and layouts in the current Bellway/NRR plans are looking distinctly tired, especially when put alongside the case for improved standards for housing design put forward by CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) and available at www.cabe.org.uk/articles/why-we-need-standards-for-housing-design – there is an ideal opportunity now to update in terms of building for the future, an opportunity which should not be lost, if Radstock is to prosper and attract tourists and new businesses.
  2. An important debate is now underway about making the whole area, of which Radstock is one, interlocking part, a sustainable, renewable energy area. Radstock Action Group is interested in exploring these issues and would welcome a more sustainable and environmentally friendly development in the town centre. Bellway/NRR should join this debate and adjust their plans accordingly.
  3. The proposed new road remains a completely anomalous and absurd idea which, far from enhancing the town, will increase noise and air pollution; increase danger to pedestrians; endanger Victorian buildings such as those in the conservation area and the Victoria Hall, none of which were designed to withstand the vibration and exhaust of six axle articulated vehicles. This road is not needed. So far, no-one has provided a rationale for this proposal. The results of the most recent traffic surveys (2009) have not been published and there is a suggestion that the reason for this is that they do not support the idea of a new road. All current good planning practice is aimed at taking through traffic out of town centres, so what could be the reason for doing the exact opposite in Radstock? We don’t know. There continue to be serious accidents caused by through traffic around the periphery of the conservation area and we would like to see fewer rather than more vehicles, so that residents, businesses and visitors can thrive, rather than worry about the danger caused by additional vehicles.

Our comprehensive response to the planning application will follow after detailed consideration but it is worth noting, even from a first look, that:

  1. There is still a lot of wooden cladding - how this can be described as complementing the local building styles and materials remains a mystery. Admittedly there is some attempt at concealing it from the most prominent positions, but we suspect that it has been used mainly on the affordable housing - we have asked BANES for clarification as affordable housing is not clearly identified on the plans.
  2. The accommodation whilst including, for examle, some three bedroom units, in most cases offers only cramped living quarters which will be far from ideal for those living in them, including the young families who are particularly in need of accommodation.
  3. There is no clear indication of the plants and trees to be used.
  4. There is no indication of any infrastructure buildings to service the residents of the proposed new housing, though there are some shop units.

Radstock Action Group is committed to the successful regeneration of the town and we look forward to a meaningful discussion developing around the issues which we believe are central to a future, sustainable, prosperous community with infrastructure to serve the town and develop enhanced working and tourism opportunities. Radstock deserves the very best. Even if this means revisiting and modifying old proposals.

PRESS RELEASE ISSUED 11.04.10 by Amanda Leon on behalf of Radstock Action Group


Press Release from Radstock Action Group - 7th March 2010

John Betty, Strategic Director for Development and Major Projects at BANES, will not be speaking at a public meeting which Radstock Action Group had scheduled for 17 March.

Apologies to everyone who was looking forward to this and who might have adjusted their arrangements accordin

He will still be visiting Radstock on 17 March to look round the town and to have a 'round table discussion' with Radstock Action Group members. A full account of the discussions will be posted on the website as soon as possible after the meeting.

Membership of Radstock Action Group is open to everyone who supports the aims of the organisation. Further details are available on the website or by contacting the secretary, Amanda Leon direct.

For information on future meetings, please visit the webite.

Amanda Leon
Secretary, Radstock Action Group


RAG's response to the consultation document on forthcoming tenders for supported bus services - 25th February 2010

Click here to download the document (34Kb pdf)


RAG nomination for officers and committee members to serve 2010–2011 - 9th February 2010

Click here to download the nomination form (24Kb pdf)


Radstock Action Group response to the Spatial Options Core Strategy consultation document - 18th January 2010

Click here to download the response document (180Kb pdf)


PRESS RELEASE: Open Letter to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) - 20th December 2009

Radstock Action Group first expressed its concern about the RTPI National Awards back in November when the Somerset Guardian revealed that LDA Design, NRR's design partner for the Radstock Railway Land, had nominated itself for a national award for regeneration activity.

The story won't go away and, though it didn't win the regional prize, LDA Planning did get a regional commendation, as reported in the Somerset Guardian of 17 December. Beware, the nomination for a national award still stands ...... but they cannot be serious.

We have now written an open letter to the President of the RTPI pointing out some of the major contradictions in this saga and inviting them to talk to us, or at the very least consider our comments on some of the grosser breaches of their own criteria for giving awards. And our view that taking such a poorly constructed proposal seriously could reflect very badly on a prestigious organisation like the RTPI. The NRR proposals for the Radstock Railway Land will lead inevitably to further degeneration of our town, not the regeneration which we all continue to work for.

We shall be forwarding a copy of our letter to the HRH the Prince of Wales who is the patron of the RTPI.

We look forward to hearing that the nomination has been consigned to the category of 'also ran' - perhaps there could be a special award for sheer cheek in nominating your own organisation for a proposal which so manifestly doesn't have the public backing claimed by the RTPI and Cate Mack of NRR.

Happy Christmas!

Amanda Leon
Secretary, Radstock Action Group

Click here to download the open letter (51Kb pdf).