MPC hosts Cllr Tim Ball: The Liberal Democrats in Bath will be “greener” than the Green Party
Earlier this week, MPC hosted Cllr Tim Ball, Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning, and Economic Development at a roundtable breakfast event with a range of developers with an interest in the authority.
Cllr Ball outlined that the key focus for the new Liberal Democrat administration in B&NES was the improving the environment and tackling the climate emergency. In his opening remarks, Cllr Ball declared that the Liberal Democrats in Bath “will be greener than the Green Party”.
This focus on the environment, which is starting to be mirrored in councils across the country, represents a significant change in outlook from B&NES and is likely to result in policy changes within the authority, starting with the introduction of a Clean Air Zone in Bath. Cllr Ball indicated that further policy changes could follow including the reduction in car parking provision required within new developments and the need to have retail/employment space and homes in close proximity to each other.
Focussing specifically on housing, Cllr Ball highlighted the need to improve standards in both private and student accommodation and how B&NES would be experimenting with modular housing and building their own council homes to help to solve the housing crisis.
With the Planning Inspectors’ letter to the West of England authorities criticising the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) fresh in attendee’s minds, Cllr Ball outlined the need to continue with the JSP to allow constituent authorities to progress their Local Plans more rapidly. With the event taking place before the Planning Inspectors’ most recent criticism of the JSP becoming public, B&NES and the other constituent authorities formal responses will be crucial to understand how the WECA authorities intend to proceed moving forwards.
In a wide ranging discussion with attendees, Cllr Ball also touched upon his Economic Development brief, highlighting the new administration’s desire to retain businesses and industry in Bath so that manual jobs did not move out of the city and existing levels of traffic weren’t exacerbated as people drove to Bristol for work.
The key take home message from the roundtable event was that the “green” agenda is the focus for the new B&NES administration, however Cllr Ball was clear that developers have their part to play to deliver new homes and infrastructure that is needed in the authority.