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Political peeps

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'One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors,' Plato

Nailsea Town Council meetings are listed in our diary on the What's On page HERE  and full agendas can be downloaded here https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/minutes-agendas/

This page dates back to 2019 and therefore is too large to be viewed on a mobile phone at this time

2022

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No Nailsea increase

Nailsea Town Council annual council tax precept will remain unchanged for the next financial year.

Councillors voted unanimously at this month’s meeting, to approve the recommendation by the finance committee to keep the amount households pay to the authority through council tax the same as the previous year, despite a forecast increase in expenditure.

Councillor Ben Kushner, chair of the finance and staffing policy committee, said some of the interest paid on invested funds from the sale of land at Engine Lane will be used to offset council expenditure.

Precept is the money collected via the council tax bill that is then passed to the town council for management on town expenditure.

The decision means the amount a household will pay for an average band D property in Nailsea will go down slightly to £90.58 per year.

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COLD AND FROSTY: Pictured on a freezing December night is North Somerset MP Liam Fox on the last cpnstituency surgery of 2022. Dr Fox said: "I will continue in 2023 to hold surgeries across North Somerset as I have done for more than 30 years."

Town clerk Jo Duffy checking out the new sound system as work begins for its installation.

Council has volume control at meetings

Nailsea Town Council has installed a new sound system at the Tithe Barn.

Councillors and residents complained the poor aqustics in the ancient building were affecting people hearing what was being said at meetings.

And even worse important speeches weren't being heard at weddings held at the popular venue.

Now thanks to the new installation the content of Nailsea Town Council meetings should be as clear as a bell for all those in attendance.

Councillors approved expenditure earlier in the year, of £33,629, for a portable wireless conference and sound system at the premises where council meetings take place as well as many other community events. The new sound system, which comes with 22 delegate microphones.

It is being paid for by community infrastructure levy (CIL) funds.

CIL is a fee payable to local authorities by developers, to support the infrastructure in an area in which they are building.

The new equipment was agreed after both councillors and members of the public complained that those speaking at the meetings were hard to hear.

Council chairman Mike Bird said: “The hearing aid loop system has not worked well for many years, not having had the correct audio fed to it.

"This is fully rectified with the new system.

"It is important to us that council members and the public attending meetings clearly hear each other and are not disadvantaged because of inadequate sound system provision.

"We believe the new system will be future proof and will greatly improve the experience of everyone at the meetings.”

"The new system, which is compatible with both MT and T position hearing aids, is of wireless design to meet the requirements of the Grade II* listed building status of the Tithe Barn.

PHOTO: Nailsea Town Council clerk Jo Duffy

Calls for more voices in council chamber

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Here is an abridged version compiled from a report from Change Nailsea of the Nailsea Town Council meeting on Wednesday, December 7.

The full minutes will be published in due course here https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/minutes-agendas/.

A fact-finding exercise costing thousands and called Two Towns Placemaking Strategy attended by six Nailsea town councillors includes the immortal words under the heading Car Parks Developed Strategies 'could some areas of parking be better used to improve public space and landscape amenity or provide housing'.

It goes on 'could a well-designed, well placed multi-storey car park free up land?'

This led to the conclusion our car parks were under threat but read the full notes here https://twotowns.place/.

Mike Bird who is the North Somerset Council Independent councillor for Yeo ward and also Nailsea Town Council  chairman told the Tithe Barn meeting 'this report is a list of ideas for consultation, so is not yet agreed.'

We understand he spoke voraciously at a North Somerset Council meeting against any charges and/or building on Nailsea car parks.

After much debate, it was agreed that the concern over the potential loss of this car park would be included in the next planning committee meeting on Wednesday, December 14 - agenda on Nailsea Town Council website, link top.

And the cost of buying two electric community buses has been put at £89K per bus minus VAT if bought by the town council.

Nailsea & District Community Transport which currently operates the bus service in the north east half of North Somerset has been busy recruiting more volunteer drivers and was at the last street market.

Learn more here https://ndct.co.uk/.

Finally work on the outdoor gym at Millennium Park is due to start this week.

Change Nailsea is committed to a way of working based on the following values:

Values

  • Independence: We will each make up our own mind about every decision without reference to a shared dogma or ideology

  • Integrity: Decisions will be made in an open and understandable manner. Information will be made available even when we make mistakes and everyone will have the opportunity to influence decisions

  • Positivity: We will look for solutions, involving others in the discussions, not just describe problems

  • Creativity: Use new, or borrowed, ideas from within the group and elsewhere to refresh what we do and how we do it

  • Respect: Understand that everyone has an equal voice and is worth listening to. Accept that you win sometimes, you lose sometimes, it's usually nothing personal and there really is no point in taking defeats to heart.

Key aims

The aims of Change Nailsea shall be:

  • Commitment to producing a Neighbourhood Plan as soon as possible. A neighbourhood plan will give our community a much stronger role in shaping future developments including the ability to choose where we want new homes, shops and offices to be built. The Nailsea community will have their say on what new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided

  • To make communications from Nailsea Town Council accessible and up to date using modern tools and platforms including live streaming

  • To create and support new ideas for events within the Community with a view of increasing the town centres vibrancy and footfall. We want to see more Eat festivals, Christmas lights, markets and local fairs and will support these as much as possible

  • To make sure Nailsea’s voice is heard clearly by North Somerset Council. We will lobby North Somerset to make sure they are delivering on their responsibilities and that Nailsea receives its fair share of investment in new infrastructure and services

  • To support and improve youth services and leisure facilities so that our youth have more activities to choose from

  • A commitment to stand against the Grove or any other town council owned land being sold for development as Engine Lane was.

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Nailsea Town Council - Golden Valley ward election candidates

Well, that’s one election over as MP Liz Truss pays tribute to booted out Boris Johnson after beating Rishi Sunak to become next Conservative UK prime minister.

Sadly our North Somerset MP Liam Fox backed the wrong horse.

Closer to home we have another election later this month.

Nailsea Town Council has a vacancy in Golden Valley ward following the second resignation of James Steel.

He said: "I quit because the decisions made by the collective council reflect on each councillor individually and if I remained on the council I would have been endorsing certain decisions which I personally felt were incompetent."

In the interests of democracy an election was requested and will be held on Thursday, September 22.

A polling station will be open at St Francis church hall, and we wait for confirmation that its opening hours will be the same as in a general or district election 7am-10pm.

Calling a town council election can cost local community taxpayers between £3-17,000 although the actual cost of this election is not known.

Only registered voters living within the Golden Valley ward will be able to vote and all should receive polling cards – people living in The Elms are not eligible as they are in Wraxall.

Candidates however do not have to live in the ward they are standing in.

Two candidates put their names forward – James R Turner, a published music book author and Mark Raby, a retired police officer.

Lloyds private banking relationship manager James has just celebrated his 45th birthday and lives with fiancé Charlotte, two dogs and three cats in Valley Way Road.

He said: “I've lived in Nailsea nearly five years although Charlotte has lived here pretty much all her life.”

For the past three decades James has been busy book reviewing for a variety of publications, being a union representative at the bank and in turn his first book about the Wizzard musician Roy Wood was reviewed by Nailsea People.

A keen Formula One fan James enjoys growing vegetables and cooking.

He added: “I believe I can bring a fresh pair of eyes and new ideas to the council and firmly believe in getting involved and having a positive impact on the town that I have no plans of leaving.”

James added in the Yorkshire village where he grew up there is a road named after his family due to their historic connections with the village – not sure if James means The Turner Trails inspired by the famous painter?

Image by Element5 Digital

Retired police sergeant Mark Raby, aged 55, has been a bit of an action man in his time and even now lists his sporting hobbies as cycling and scuba diving.

A known rugby fan Mark has lived in the town for 25 years with the past nine heading the community policing section.

Manning the football cage for youngsters at fundraising events and organising the Tough-as-Nails charity assault course family man Mark is a familiar face on the sidelines of a sports pitch and playing field.

He said: “As a police sergeant, I worked to tackle both crime and anti-social behaviour in and around Nailsea including the Golden Valley ward during the years of severe cutbacks.”

By supporting community and youth initiatives and bringing different people together Mark believes it will make ‘the town an even better place to live’.

He added: “Addressing crime and anti-social behaviour by strengthening the relationship with a Community, the Council and the Cops is my idea behind a three Cs initiative.

“I would collaborate with both Golden Valley ward and Nailsea residents by listening to the issues and ideas that matter, doing my best to address them, while always honest and transparent.”

TESTING TIME: North Somerset MP Liam Fox received a £20,000 donation in June from a Covid testing firm on whose behalf he had contacted the then health secretary Matt Hancock., according to the BBC, other national television channels and newspapers. Dr Fox recommended SureScreen Diagnostics to Mr Hancock in 2020, an email seen by campaign group Good Law Project and the BBC shows.

The company went on to win a £500m contract to provide tests without facing competition. A spokesman for Dr Fox called the allegations 'a swear'.

Read more HERE

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Liam backs Rishi for PM

What a difference a day make.
North Somerset MP Liam Fox posted on Twitter: "I have loyally supported every Conservatives Leader since 1992. 
"However, today I am withdrawing my support for the Prime Minister. Boris Johnson’s leadership is untenable."
And he shared his letter, top, explaining why.
Then barely 24hrs later he appeared on social media supporting Rishi Sunak's bid to become Tory leader with a promise to rebuild trust following the tumultuous premiership of Boris Johnson.
The former chancellor quit on Tuesday, helping to trigger an avalanche of ministerial resignations. 
Mr Sunak announced his bid on Twitter, saying: “Let’s restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country.”
His move came as allies of former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, who was runner-up to Mr Johnson in 2019, said he was 'virtually certain' to stand again this time.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson was continuing to resist demands to stand down as Prime Minister and hand over to his deputy, Dominic Raab, until a permanent successor is in place.
Mr Sunak released a glossy launch video in which he set out his family history, saying: “Our country faces huge challenges, the most serious for a generation.
“And the decisions we make today will decide whether the next generation of British people will also have the chance of a better future.”
He has the backing of Commons Leader Mark Spencer, who said Mr Sunak has the “vision and the ability to take us through dark economic times”.
The Conservative MP for Sherwood told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “Rishi’s got the skills, he’s got the ability, he’s got the experience, and I think he’s got the vision that we need to pull the country together and to get us moving in the right direction.”
Former Tory Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden and MP Paul Maynard together with Dr Fox also threw their support behind Mr Sunak’s leadership bid.

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LIAM AND BORIS: Once best of mates

Photo:  PA:Press Association Wire

They all shared a link to Mr Sunak’s campaign www.ready4rishi.com.

Mr Sunak enters what is likely to be a crowded field, with more than a dozen MPs either having announced their intentions or thought to be considering a run.

When Nailsea People shared the news on our Facebook page opinion was split with some very loyal Conservative votes furious that Boris had been blamed for the wrongs in the world and blaming others for his demise.

Dr Fox has twice stood unsuccessfully for the leadership of the Conservative Party, in 2005 and 2016.

In July 2019, he lost his cabinet position when new Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed his cabinet.

Boys inspect the black stuff

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Things that go bump in the street like potholes, uneven pavements and broken paving slabs are the bane of Nailsea people.

This week saw a meeting of minds when town and distirct councillors got together to discuss the problems.

Nailsea Town Council chairman Mike Bird with fellow town councillors James Tonkin and James Steel met with North Somerset executive members Mark Canniford (Weston Hillside), Steve Hogg (Wrington) and Ashley Cartman (Long Ashton, Leigh Woods, Failand and Wraxall).

The purpose was to highlight concern about the state of many of Nailsea’s roads, paths and pavements.

A presentation of 100 photographs covering 21 locations of the worse areas was handed over.

Mr Steel and councillor Dee Houlbrook, who had prepared the pictorial document after asking on social media for examples.

All present agreed the situation is districtwide and exasperated by lack of funds.

As well as the urgent improvements needed there were calls for more consultations especially with disabled groups whose access was being restricted by the lack of maintenance.

An increase in the number of disabled bays in the car park at Waitrose supermarket off The Link road was also requested.

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ROAD GANG: Roads and pavements in need of repairs should be reported on the North Somerset Council website here https://bit.ly/3sFCZqi.

Nailsea Town Council finance and policy committee will be discussing a new job description for a community wellbeing development officer and set the paygrade at its next meeting. 
This is on Wednesday, May 25, at 7.30pm at the Tithe Barn.
It is currently also trying to recruit a part-time communications and media officer (30 hours) and part-time wedding and events co-ordinator (16 hours).
Out of an annual budget of £525,040 the council is spending in this financial year nearly 40 per cent of its precept is on staff.
This does not include the multi-million pound housing developers money which has to be spent on capital projects. 
Finance officer Fran Bridge said in the committee report: "Staff costs were £203,538 at year end and are the full costs to the council of staff based at the Tithe Barn and No 65 including gross pay, employer NI and pension contributions. 
"Staff costs ended the year above budget however expenditure was lower than expected as the 2021-22 pay award was agreed at 1.75 per cent and lower than the four per cent forecasted."
To download an agenda click HERE.

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Nice Nailsea needs a lido 

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A High Street full of art galleries is not the answer for struggling shops, warned Somerset Farmers’ Market organiser Louise Hall at Nailsea’s annual town meeting.

Speaking on Wednesday night, May 11, at the Tithe Barn, Louise said ‘be careful about what you wish for’ citing the situation in Frome where this cultural choice had led to spiralling house prices.

Shops like greengrocers Burchills, closing its Colliers Walk store after more than 30 years trading, and others like the owners of Simply Green and the new tuck shop Sweetz saying the low footfall post-Covid was having a worrying impact on their businesses.

High rents and rates are not the sole reason for the change in shopping habits, the meeting heard.

Failing high streets is a national problem not confided to one town, said Louise.

She added: “This is happening everywhere.

“I would say don’t beat yourself up, Nailsea seems to me a really nice place to live with strong community groups.

“I live just outside Frome which is the ‘arts capital’ of the southwest and no one can afford to live there anymore.”

She urged Nailsea to ‘get yourself a lido’ instead of investing solely in the arts and crafts scene.

Attracting tourists is not the answer, catering for local people is more important, she concluded to loud applause.

Vice-chairman Emily Miller said: “We have started looking at how arts and culture can build the town centre and how we can bring more people into the town and made a start with the heritage trail - a town centre isn’t a draw anymore as more people shop online.

”Whenever I talk about Nailsea I talk about our green fields, our nature reserves, we need to highlight what we do have.”

Nailsea Farmers’ Market which for 2022-23 will operate with a £4,850 town council grant is the biggest Somerset Farmers’ Market with more than 40 stalls monthly.

Nailsea people can get regular updates by going to info@somersetfarmersmarkets.co.uk and subscribing.

Chairman Mike Bird said there is an initiative in the planning stages to rent empty units in the shopping centre specifically for fledging businesses.

This is a joint venture with North Somerset Council who has a High Street heritage enhancement scheme running in Weston-super-Mare.

The Ask Nailsea survey should be sorted within the next month when options for spending the monies from developers will be decided.

Ms Miller said: “It is my hope within the next month to share with the public the ideas we are taking forward.”

Many asked for a swimming pool however there are concerns about running costs and maintenance.

On top of its £500,000 annual precept the town council currently has more than £3M in its saving accounts but the windfall monies has to be a capital expenditure - a fixed asset.

The full minutes, chairman’s address and accounts will be published on Nailsea Town Council here https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/.

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IN THE CHAIR

Councillor Mike Bird who was recently re-elected for a second term remarked in this annual report about another strange ‘Covid’ year adding he was first elected via a Zoom meeting. In response to criticism on social media he said his tenure as a district councillor was an advantage as it gave him easier access to North Somerset Council officers. He indefatigably disputed it was a conflict of interest – rather the opposite. He said: “My focus is always Nailsea.”

SKATEFEST 2022

Nailsea Skatepark spokesman Phil Williams said: “Our first skatefest was 19 years ago and the original crew is now all grown up with children of their own. This year we are celebrating our 20th anniversary. During the past two years we haven’t been able to hold the skatefest although we held one online which was quite good fun.” With the help of a police grant floodlighting of the skate park is nearer fruition.

65 HIGH STREET

The cost of staff, repairs and updates to the community owned High Street hub are being measured against its wider benefits to the NHS and Social Services, the town meeting was told. The new manager is Trudy Hollow.

THERAPY THINKING

Wellspring Counselling therapy service was set up in 1994 initially for adults on low incomes but since 2004 it has been helping young people aged 11-18 as well. For 2022-23 it has a £4,000 town council grant. Spokesman Louise Alison explained with poor mental health and Covid putting pressure on the NHS and a cost-of-living crisis ‘our work is more relevant that ever’.

SHARED OWNERSHIP

Barrett Homes has more than 40 local people interested in the shared ownership scheme initiated by Nailsea Town Council when it sold the Engine Lane site for development. Unfortunately, the building delay caused by National Grid added an average £100,000 house price rise.

IT’S HEAVY

A speed and weight restriction should be introduced in Nailsea High Street by the end of May.

GREEN SPACE

The Uplands district council-owned open space is lost forever for housing but ‘town green’ status for The Perrings slope is still with the legal team.

GRAFFITI GURU

Councillor James Steel, who wasn’t at the meeting, helped by a team of volunteers is planning a grand graffiti clean-up in Nailsea.

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WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY: Nailsea college student Freddie Tall sporting a new haircut visits No10 Downing Street for World Down Syndrome Day on Monday, March 21. He was accompanied by mum Annabel and in London met with North Somerset MP Liam Fox. Dr Fox’s private members bill to meet the needs of those with this syndrome is currently at committee stage and likely to become law shortly. A delegation meet PM Boris Johnston at No10 and attended a reception on the terrace at the House of Commons. Annabel says she hopes by next Monday the bill will have passed the commitee stage without a hitch. Dr Fox, a family friend, tweeted: 'Today is #WorldDownSyndromeDay, a time when we celebrate those around the world who have Down Syndrome and the contributions they make to their families, communities and society as a whole."

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ACCOUNTING FOR SPEND: What an excellent graphic prepared by Nailsea Town Council staff explaining how our community tax gets spent locally. With an annual budget of half a million can't wait for the budget in similar format when the £4+ developers windfall is included. Top spend is admin but that's the way of the world followed by grants of various sizes to community groups...

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ANSWERING BACK: Always nice to know what our North Somerset MP Liam Fox is doing. Well part of his busy schedule included appearing on BBC Radio 4 Any Questions. He was jooined on the panel broadcast from Chorley in Lancashire by fellow guests Chris Bryant, Bronwend Maddox and Mary Dejevshy. He thanks the audience for all their excellent questionh. Still in the north he is hosting Conservative Friends of America spring conference in Blackpool but has been popping up at lots of constituency events too like the Portishead spring flower show and is also included in the Ukrairian slideshow in the gallery

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£340 millions to spend

North Somerset Council members will meet this month to set the budget for the year ahead and are expected to approve a financial strategy which protects vital council-services while also investing an extra £40m in long-term local projects to improve services for children, green initiatives and local facilities.

With an overall theme of protection and investment, the budget priorities are:

  • backing our children and young people

  • delivering better basic services

  • investing in our communities

  • tackling the climate emergency.

The £40m additional investment is in addition to the £300m already committed for long-term investment in local projects.

Residents will continue to get good services from the council with key services like social care, recycling and waste and roads and pavement maintenance protected. The budget also protects local people from the impact of cuts, and increases in fees and charges are being kept to a minimum.

North Somerset Council executive member for finance Ash Cartman is the Lib Dem ward councillor for Long Ashton, Leigh Woods, Failand and Wraxall.

He said: "Our administration is continuing to work hard together to deliver for the common good of the people of North Somerset.

"Through our collaborative approach we are committed to making North Somerset open, fairer and greener, and this budget does just that.

"The past two years have been incredibly hard for everyone.

"As we emerge from the pandemic we want North Somerset to thrive.

"We are committed to supporting our children and young people to have the best start in life and also to protecting our care services for adults.

"We're passionate about tackling the climate emergency and this budget sets out a series of initiatives that will accelerate our commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030."

Subject to approval by councillors, council tax will increase by 2.99 per cent.

 

This increase is driven by social care pressures and won’t even cover the gap in costs to provide these services.

This increase includes a one per cent increase specifically to support adult social care services. Almost every council in the country will be increasing council tax at this rate.Following the central government announcement last week that properties in council tax bands A to D will receive a £150 payment to support increasing energy bills, the council is expecting further advice about handling these payments.

British Pound Notes

When council tax bills are sent out in March they will not reflect the reduced amount for affected properties. This will follow a separate process and more information will be available when guidance from government is received.

Adult social care remains under-funded by central government, and the pressures in this area will not be solved by the precept increase. Therefore it will receive £8.7m of new money to help address the pressures in this area.

Mr Cartman added: "Increasing council tax is not something we do lightly given the other cost-of-living pressures our residents are facing, but the council is not immune to cost pressures either and we have worked to mitigate impacts on services and household budgets.

"There are still risks with pressures of inflation, demand and income which we'll need to manage and there continues to be a budget challenge in the years ahead with significant gaps forecast which will need to be addressed.

"We're actively contributing to the government funding reviews and making sure our voice is heard to campaign for fairer funding We face significant challenges in the next three years beyond this and with only annual settlements from government longer-term planning is virtually impossible."

The budget will be debated at the council meeting on Tuesday, February 15, starting at 6pm.

The meeting is at the Town Hall in Weston-super-Mare butcan be live-streamed at https://youtu.be/fuPR-ViS05I.

The full meeting agenda and papers are available on the council's website at https://n-somerset.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=784&x=1.

APPROVED council tax rise

North Somerset Council met this week and set the budget for the year ahead.
Councillors approved a financial strategy which they believe protects vital council-services while also investing an extra £40m in long-term local projects to improve services for children, green initiatives and local facilities.
With an overall theme of protection and investment, the budget priorities as above.

The £40m additional investment is in addition to the £300m already committed for long-term investment in local projects.
Residents will continue to get good services from the council with key services like social care, recycling and waste and roads and pavement maintenance protected, said a spokesman.

The budget also protects local people from the impact of cuts, and increases in fees and charges are being kept to a minimum.
Council tax will increase by 2.99 per cent. 
 

This increase is driven by social care pressures and won’t even cover the gap in costs to provide these services.This increase includes a one per cent increase specifically to support adult social care services. Almost every council in the country will be increasing council tax at this rate.

Following the recent central government announcement that properties in council tax bands A to D will receive a £150 payment to support increasing energy bills, the council is expecting further advice about handling these payments. 
When council tax bills are sent out in March they will not reflect the reduced amount for affected properties. This will follow a separate process and more information will be available when guidance from government is received.
Adult social care remains under-funded by central government, and the pressures in this area will not be solved by the precept increase. Therefore it will receive £8.7m of new money to help address the pressures in this area.

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Ask Nailsea people

Nailsea Town Council intends to ask the people how it should spend its planning gain windfall from new housebuilding in the town.

Nailsea Town Council has gained a significant sum of money from the sale of the land at Engine Lane and is looking at how this money can be reinvested into the community to benefit residents.

The council discussed a proposal to ‘Ask Nailsea’.

It was agreed the question will be put directly to the people of Nailsea and will ask them how they would like the council to invest in the community for the future.

It will be contacting all residents to get views and will promote the questionnaire in local and social media.

It is hoped that a broad scope of ideas will come forward.

The information gathered by Nailsea Town Council will be read, collated, and the most suitable ideas will be selected, developed, and put out for public consultation, it was decided.

Councillors met new Nailsea police beat team constable Lee Kerslake at its extraordinary meeting on Wednesday, Janauary 5, which had been postponed from December.

PC Kerslake talked about future policing plans and anti-social behaviour and damage to the old Weston College site.

He is keen to build a positive rapport with Nailsea’s youth and wants to increase communication between police and the community.

The beat team intend to have a visible presence on the streets of Nailsea, which is an important aspect in gaining the public’s trust, he said.

Nailsea Town Council has upgraded the CCTV network during the past 12 months and has a mobile camera which can be deployed to locations not covered by existing cameras.

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All relay images to North Somerset Council CCTV unit and the police, the meeting heard.

Nailsea Town Council budget for 2022-2023 is £567,568 has been set considering increases in running costs and additional staffing.

This is an additional £6.38 a year for a householder in the B and D council tax band or just over 12p per week and is slightly more than the predicted inflation rate of 6.5 per cent by April this year.

For context a Band D household is currently billed £1,906.71 per annum.

Nailsea will be expanding as a town over the next few years and the town council recognises it needs to increase its communication with residents and expand the use of its buildings which has been factored into the 2022-23 budget, the meeting agreed.

  • Nailsea People has a 'straw poll' on its February front page asking residents to vote for their favourite idea for spending the money. So far a swimming pool is by far the first choice of the majority. Privately councillors are saying this is a none starter but not why - cost, maintenance, we will pose the question. 

2021

Steel digest

Steel Framing

Nailsea Town Council
finance committee

Wednesday, December 8

I have had a few weeks without a town council meeting but on Wednesday night we had the finance committee meeting which was jam packed and led to a lot of healthy debate and conversation.

 

2022-23 Budget Proposal 

The budget proposal is not the agreed budget but is instead what each individual committee has requested. It provides a detailed overview of all income and expenditure for the following year which the council can then review.
The role of the finance committee on Wednesday was to discuss the budget proposal, possible amendments and then decide what should be ‘proposed’ to full town council for all councillors to vote on whether it is approved.
The ‘proposed’ budget showed a significant rise in costs which if unchanged would lead to a deficit next year of £147,000. It was highlighted within the agenda that to balance the ‘proposed’ budget with no changes then the town council would need to increase their council tax precept by 28 per cent next year.
Precepts are a share of your council tax payments that the town council receives to operate and improve the town. Last year Nailsea Town Council received £525,040 but this would need to rise by 28 per cent to around £672,000 if the ‘proposed’ budget remained unchanged.
However, after much debate and conversation on the ‘proposed’ budget the finance committee felt unable to make a recommendation to the full town council in relation to the proposed increase of the precept and this will now return to the finance committee for further discussion which will also give the staffing sub-committee a chance to meet to discuss recruitment plans as well as waiting for the precept calculator to be available.
I hope I’ve explained that correctly and clearly as trying to provide a succinct and objective overview on such an important item is difficult but a lot more information and context on this item can be found in the full agenda which can be found here https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/minutes-agendas/. Select finance and policy committee and then choose the meeting dated Wednesday, December 8.


2022-23 Grant Applications


As a committee we then reviewed and discussed grant applications from local organisations and groups. The role of the councillors on the finance committee is to review and recommended to full town council whether they feel the grants should be awarded. 
Ultimately, it will be up to the full town council to vote and make the final decision on whether to award grants to the applicants. This vote will take place at the next full town council meeting on Wednesday, December 15.

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Matters for Information


A councillor requested that £50,000 is provided by Nailsea Town Council to create a pedestrian crossing on Clevedon Road. North Somerset Council has improvement works planned for the road and if the council provide the fee the crossing will be included in the improvements. This was not included within the proposed budget for next year.


The above is not the full agenda which can be found HERE.and the above is just my personal feedback on what I felt would be of interest and it is NOT an official statement from the town council who will publish agreed minutes in due course.
Nailsea Town Council exists to represent and support residents and all residents are invited to attend and speak at meetings during public participation.
Most meetings take place at the Tithe Barn at 7.30pm on Wednesday evenings.

The calendar of meetings can be found here: https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/meetings/ where  the meeting agendas can be found seven days before each meeting.

More information on any item above can be found by contacting the town council offices on 01275 855277 or enquiries@nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk.

James Steel

Total support for Down Syndrome Bill

A Bill focussed on improving the lives of those living with Down syndrome has passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Friday, November 26.

It has full Government support and in fact in the debate no one spoke against it becoming law.

The Down Syndrome Bill was introduced as Dr Liam Fox’s Private Member’s Bill.

Annabel Tall is the constituency assistant to Dr Fox and mother of Freddie.

Freddie is a Foxes Academy student who has Down’s syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder and is also deaf. 

A disablility advocate and chartered engineeer Annabel stood unsuccessfully as the general election Conservative candidate for Bath in 2019.

She said: "Feeling very emotional.

"Today the Down Syndrome Bill passed its second reading in Parliament without a single vote against - a game changing moment.

"Awesome to watch Parliament, all parties, at their best where everyone just gets it

"Thank you to the most amazing team of people I have ever worked with for whom 9-5 has no meaning."

Dr Fox was selected, for the first time in his 30 years as an MP for North Somerset, in the Private Members’ Ballot to bring forward a Bill of his own choosing for this Parliamentary session – only 20 MPs each parliamentary session are drawn at random in the ballot.

Dr Fox, a former NHS doctor and GP, decided to use this unique opportunity to bring forward the Down Syndrome Bill as his Private Members’ Bill.

The Bill is co-sponsored by cross-party MPs and politicians from across the political divide attended an event with Dr Fox in Parliament earlier this week in support of the Bill.

The Down Syndrome Bill would mean the establishment of a Down Syndrome Act and will be the first of its kind in the world.

The Act would improve the provision and outcomes for all those living with Down syndrome in England.

This will encompass, amongst other areas, maternity care, education, health and social care and employment.

Campaigners are calling for the Bill to receive Royal Assent before World Down Syndrome Day on Monday, March 21, 2022.

TV Personalities have also shown their support for the Bill, including: CBeebies presenter and self-advocate George Webster; BBC’s Line of Duty actor Tommy Jessop; writer and creator of Call the Midwife Heidi Thomas; and the actress Sally Phillips.

The National Down Syndrome Policy Group (NDSPG) has launched a campaign in support for the Bill.

The ‘Stand Up for Down Syndrome’ campaign includes a Change.org petition which has attracted the signatures of 30,400 people with Down syndrome, their families and supporters.

Thousands of constituents have written to their MPs as part of the campaign urging them to support the Bill.

Many of those taking part in the campaign have shared photos of their children with Down syndrome on social media to help send a strong message about the importance of the Bill.The NDSPG have organised a gathering outside Parliament today at 13:30hrs so that those in the Down syndrome community can publicly demonstrate their support of Dr Liam Fox’s Bill on the day of its second reading in the House of Commons.

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Battersea Power Station in London was lit in blue, pink, purple – to celebrate what campaigners are calling a 'historic and ground breaking moment'.

Health minister Gillian Keegan, whose nephew has Down Syndrome, told MPs during the debate: “People with Down syndrome should have the opportunity to enjoy all aspects of our society and to have access to the services and support that will enable them throughout their lifetime.

"iwholeheartedly support the Down syndrome bill.

“I know that today people with Down syndrome are struggling to access the services they need and I’ve seen this with my own family.

"It is not right, it must change and we will change it.”

Dr Liam Fox MP, the Down Syndrome Bill sponsor said: “I am thrilled to bring forward a Bill to deal with the issues faced by those with Down syndrome.

"My aim is to deal with three main areas.

"The first is to de-stigmatise Down syndrome.

"The second is to ensure that current provision of services is improved.

"The third is to look ahead and deal with future issues, such as long-term care, in an era where, for the first time, many of those with Down syndrome will outlive their parents.”

Heidi Thomas, writer and creator of Call the Midwife whose late brother had Down syndrome said: “Having David as a sibling enabled me to live my best life – he taught me so much, and brought joy to all who loved him.

"But I want everyone who has Down syndrome to live their best life, with their gifts acknowledged and their specific needs embraced, understood, and enabled.

"The Down Syndrome Bill could really open the door to that, and it has my full support.”

To read a full Hansard account of the debate go HERE.

Once second reading is complete the Bill proceeds to committee stage - where each clause (part) and any amendments (proposals for change) to the Bill may be debated.

Climate change crisis report

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Nailsea Town Council chairman Mike Bird spent two weeks working as a sound engineer at COP 26 and saw all the great and the good (and not-so-good) on the other end of a TV screen. 
He said:"I do think that we have a real climate emergency, but people don't seem in much hurry to call 999."


Here is his reflections:

  • UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)

  • Reflections on two weeks at COP26.

  • So was it all worth it?  Or was it just Blah Blah Blah?

  • Disaster Displacement at COP26

 

Is the COP26 agreement enough?

Clearly it isn’t enough, but coal is in the agreement for the first time and it was signed off by both China and the US – that in itself is a miracle!

Although the Chinese targets are currently for 2060 -10 years too late - they now in the agreement to return every year to update commitments, which is good news.   
The US has 850 coal mines they need to wind down.

So while in a way the result of the conference was disappointing, in another it does keep hopes alive that we can stop climate change.

The launch of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance was an interesting event. https://beyondoilandgasalliance.com.
A lot of countries signed up including Ireland, Scotland and Wales...but not Westminster.
So what of my own two weeks there?  

I spent most of it sat in front of a sound desk listening to press conferences and saw many speeches and presentations.
As in the media, there was a lot of talk about 1.5 degrees, but I realised, like many people, I had little understanding of what this fully meant.

It is actually a measured figure of how much the global average temperatures have risen since 1980.

Records started in 1902, but the main temperature rise began in 1980. 
So why is a 1.5 degrees rise so significant?  

Because this is the scientifically calculated tipping point – if we go over 1.5 degrees rise, the climate will be in virtual run away and the chances of us reversing climate change could disappear.  

I leave you to imagine what a runaway increase in temperatures would mean for humanity!  
It needs pointing out that we are already at 1.1 degrees. 

If we carry on as we are, and don’t reach carbon zero* target by 2050, island nations like the Maldives will then literally cease to exist.  

  • * Carbon zero is another well used phrase not many understand. Fundimentaly it means we are only putting into the atmosphere what the earth has the capability to reabsorb.

There was a lot of representation from the island nations at COP26.  

With reefs dying already from the 1.1 sea temperature rise - bleaching it’s called - island erosion is already happening.  

Around the world the people most effected already by climate change, are actually those living the most environmentally friendly lives.  

They are helpless as the responsibility for reversing climate change and therfore sea levels, lies with the developed nations and fossil fuel producers.
There was a lot of talk of money and compensation at COP26.  

Personally, I did find this odd and rather out of place.  

If climate change happens, economies and societies will be destroyed, nature has little use for a few digits on a computer server somewhere, which is all money is these days.

How can money stop the sea rising and sweeping away an island?  

It's action that's needed not money.
I think that’s what’s changed for me having gone to COP26, is seeing the need for urgenct action now to be able plan towards 2050.  

Small token gestures are no longer enough, we need to change fundamentally our way of living. 

We’ve heard a lot about the rainforest over the years, about fights to preserve it as the ‘lungs of the planet’, it seems so distant to us and out of our hands.  

If we actually do make 2050 and only have 1.5 degrees increase, we still need to have restored nature by then to aid the earths ability to recover the climate, repairing the ‘lungs of the planet’.

Yes, we do need to reduce our carbon footprint by changing everyday things like buying locally produced food rather than imported, walking instead of taking the car, not going on that cruise or repeatedly flying to faraway lands on holiday.

There are many small things we can do that all add up to change the way our economy works and make it more environmentlly friendly.  

Liam's private members' bill gets government support

North Somerset MP Liam Fox said he is 'absolutely delighted that the Government have announced they will be supporting my Private Members’ Down Syndrome Bill'. 
This Bill is a world first and will make a real difference to many lives. 
People with Down syndrome will be legally recognised as a specific minority group after the government backed proposed new laws to ensure all public bodies meet their needs.
Ministers will announce within days that the government will back a new Down Syndrome Bill.
The move follows a campaign spearheaded by Tommy Jessop, who played Terry Boyle in Line of Duty, Dr Liam Fox, the former cabinet minister and Ken and Rachael Ross from the National Down Syndrome Policy Group.
The Bill will put people with Down syndrome on an equal footing with other minority groups to ensure that councils and public bodies such as schools,

Steel Framing

Steel digest

Nailsea Town Council
community engagement committee

Wednesday, November 10

* North Somerset Council to Empower Communities
* 2022/23 Grant Applications 
* Local Networking Event for Groups / Organisations


Last night we had a jam packed agenda at the community engagement committee.
We kicked off with a presentation from Richard Blows who led North Somerset’s Covid response through the development of North Somerset Together.
Richard explained that as a council they are very aware that it was local groups and communities that were best placed to offer support to residents during the crisis.

North Somerset Council want to help empower communities further and support its continued growth.

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WILD BUNCH: Rewilding Nailsea February 2020

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CORNER PLOT: Rewilding Nailsea February 2021

But what are the big things we can do locally?   ​
What we tend not to see is the fact we’ve actually de-forested and taken away the lungs of our own country.  

Only 14 per cent of woodland still exists in this country.  

For example, the Lake District is a completely man-made landscape, it should be covered in trees.

And I’m sure Nailsea itself was once covered in woodland as dense as Wraxall hill.
Woodlands are a huge absorber of carbon dioxide and we need to restore our woodlands locally.
During the Bristol Airport planning application a few years ago, I sat down with a colleague and worked out how many trees would need to be planted just to absorb the emissions on simply the take off and landing of every aircraft from Lulsgate.  

It was 4.2 million trees, that’s about 8,000 acres of woodland.  

Sounds a lot, but North Somerset covers 92,000 acres.
As well as turning over un-used fields to woodland (perhaps those that line the motorway to absorb traffic emmisions?) there are thousands of miles of hedgerow in North Somerset.  

Much of our ancient hedgerow was pulled up or thinned post World War 2.

Doubling and tripling the width of hedgerows with trees and shrubs would enable a huge amount of planting to go ahead, not only would it be good for the climate, but great for biodiversity and wildlife.
The other great carbon absorbing natural asset we have in North Somerset are our moors.  

Yet we’ve been slowly strangling the moorland by draining it.  

Perhaps - as well as planting more hedgerows on them - we need to increase the underlying water levels.  

This again would increase biodiversity and the peat moors ability to absorb carbon.
I’m not trying to frighten people, but the time for Blah Blah Blah has gone.   We need to make people realise action is needed now for the sake of our children and grand-children, their future is literally in our hands.  

We all need to start working towards 2050 now, not just leave it to government.  

 

Mike Bird

  • Nailsea Town Council declared a climate emergency and pledged to reduce its carbon footprint.in September 2019

  • There is a Facebook group called Nailsea Climate Emergency Group although currently it has only 78 members

  • Golden Valley Primary School has an 'eco council' to save the planet 

  • Nailsea School says 'we want to lead by example, taking climate change, and environmental sustainability issues seriously. As a school we are constantly trying to strike a balance between economic and environmental costs'

  • Backwell elected Bridget Petty as its first Green councillor for North Somerset in May 2019. She is currently executive member for climate emergency and the environment 

  • This year Noah's Ark zoo farm planted planted 2,500 mixed native hedging whips to form hedgerows in the top sheep field to create four new paddocks and further 55 larger, established trees around the zoo to create extra shade for visitors in picnic areas and animals in their enclosures

  • Nature and Climate North Somerset also has a Facebook page and nearly 500 followers and another called Climate Action North Somerset is a private group with 234 followers

  • North Somerset UNISON is part of Bristol - COP26 Global Day of Action for Climate Justice and can be contacted by email at unison@n-somerset.gov.uk 

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NHS organisations, social care services and job centres are required to meet the specific needs of people with the condition.

It will stop people with Down syndrome from being treated more broadly as a disabled person, which means their needs are often neglected and their abilities not recognised.

To support this they have offered the town council funding to cover the cost of a new town council employee for two years, whose role will be to develop services, relationships and offer support to local groups although it will be up to the town council to decide the exact perimeters of the role.

As a committee we then reviewed and discussed 26 grant applications from local organisations and groups.

The role of the councillors on the community engagement committee is to review, vote and ultimately recommended to full town council whether they feel the grants should be awarded.

Ultimately, it will be up to the full town council to vote and make the final decision on whether to award grants to the applicants.

This vote will take place at the next full town council meeting on the Wednesday, December 15.

Last night community engagement committee recommended the approval of grants totalling more than £70,000.
Lastly, it was decided that the town council’s first networking event for stakeholders across Nailsea will take place in January 2022.

It will start with the council inviting the 40 organisers of local groups / organisations to meet with councillors and also each other in a relaxed atmosphere over light refreshments.

This will give councillors the opportunity to get a better understanding of the groups and their plans but also for the organisers themselves to talk to and network with each other which they hope will be beneficial.
We have a range of amazing groups in Nailsea and the more we can work together as a community the better. 
As always, the info above is not the full agenda which can be found here: https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/minutes-agendas/.
The above is just my personal feedback on what I felt would be of interest and it is NOT an official statement from the Town Council.
More information on any item above can be found by contacting the town council offices on 01275 855277 or enquiries@nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk.

James Steel

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How MPs top up £80k+ salaries 

North Somerset MP Liam Fox, a former trade secretary, has a £10,000 contract with WorldPR, a Panama-based PR company for advice on business and international politics, reports The Guardian in mio-November just in time for parliamentary debate.

Dr Fox also receives payments for newspaper articles and in his declared list he also received a couple of complimentary Wimbledon tickets!

He lists donations from several individuals running into thousands of pounds and tickets to Wimbledon for the 2021 Championships, total value £648.70.

Dr Fox also received life membership at the Carlton Club, pictured, a private, members-only club between Westminster and Mayfair.

The value of membership where Dr Fox hosted his 60th birthday party is undisclosed.

MPs get basic annual salary of £81,932.

They also receive expenses to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, having somewhere to live in London or their constituency, and travelling between Parliament and their constituency.

But Dr Fox isn't the only politician to consider his job in the House of Commons as part-time.

On the perks front all former Nailsea resident James Heappey who is now the MP for Wells has received is free membership to Burnham & Berrow Golf Club worth approximately £1,000 annually.

To read full list follow go to https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/211101/211101.pdf

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Nearly £3m funding for North Somerset

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North Somerset Council has successfully secured over £2.8m funding to support community initiatives to boost employment and enhance the skills of local people.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced that 477 projects across the country will benefit from the UK Community Renewal Fund (UKCRF).

The successful bids, which will benefit from a share of £200m, will pilot programmes and new approaches which will invest in skills, local business and help people into employment.

North Somerset has received funding for four initiatives.

North Somerset Works Together will receive over £585,000. The council will work in partnership with Weston College, Voluntary Action North Somerset (VANS) and Curo to provide a new tailored offer to residents needing support, matching job vacancies with jobseekers in the most deprived communities. 

Enabling Thriving Places in North Somerset has been awarded over £672,000. Working with Bristol City Council, this placemaking research project will create projects and spaces to bring people together, build social fabric, boost recovery/resilience and create places where people want to work, visit or live.

Supporting Business in North Somerset will receive £878,000. This partnership project with the North Somerset Enterprise Agency, the Food and Drink Forum and Weston College will provide targeted business skills support for companies and individuals. It will also provide a new business station in central Weston.

North Somerset Community Hubs will get nearly £700,000. The council will work with the North Somerset Black and Minority Ethnic Forum, VANS, town and parish councils, The Stable, West of England Rural Network, Avon Local Councils Association and Culture Weston to establish a network of community hubs as focal points for delivering community services.

Cllr Mark Canniford,

North Somerset Council executive member with responsibility for placemaking and economy Mark Canniford is the Lib Dem ward councillor for Weston-super-Mare Hillside.

He said: "These four initiatives will sit at the heart of our community and provide a boost to the local economy and the job market.

"Their tailored innovative approach will help breathe new life into the North Somerset economy and stimulate further growth in the area."​

Steel Framing

Steel digest

Nailsea Town Council
finance & policy committee
Wednesday, October 27

Nailsea Town Council finance and policy committee met on Wednesday. It was quite a short agenda but very interesting.
It started with an verbal report from Somerset Farmers Market who have been running the monthly farmers market successfully in Nailsea for a year now. 
The market is currently split 75 per cent food / 25 per cent craft and the feedback they receive from visitors and traders is very positive. They have 40 regular stall holders and now have a waiting list for space which is brilliant.
After that we reviewed the quarterly reporting and forecast pack for Q2.  
This pack is new this year and I believe has been created by town council finance officer along with the finance chair Ben Kushner.
I have attached the photos of some of the report below as I thinks it easier to understand visually then me try and bullet point it.
I personally feel this new forecast is a brilliant leap forward to help the council be aware and adapt to changes / challenges based on quarterly results. 
Visually I also feel it’s a lot easier to review and understand especially with the notes explaining any important points. 
I haven’t attached the full forecast but this can be found in the minutes by using the hyperlink below if you’re interested.
The info above and attachments below is not the full agenda which can be found here: https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/minutes-agendas/.
The above is just my personal feedback on what I felt would be of interest and it is NOT an official statement from the Town Council.
More information on any item above can be found by contacting the town council offices on 01275 855277 or enquiries@nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk.


James Steel

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Image by Pete Alexopoulos
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Raw sewerage in our rivers

On Thursday evening, October 21, 265 Tory MPs voted down an amendment to stop private water companies from dumping raw sewage into the UK’s rivers and coastlines.

North Somerset MP Liam Fox was one of them.

The independent, shared equity media outlet EvolveEvolve Politics reported:

“Lords Amendment 45 to the Environment Bill would have placed a legal duty on water companies in England and Wales “to make improvements to their sewerage systems and demonstrate progressive reductions in the harm caused by discharges of untreated sewage.”

“Despite the horrendous environmental impact of the disgusting practice, shortly before the vote, the Conservative Environment Secretary George Eustace recommended to his fellow MPs that they should reject it.”

“And, owing largely to the government’s 80 seat majority, the amendment was indeed defeated – by a margin of 268 MPs to 204.”

Evolve lists on its website every single MP who voted to allow water companies to continue the horrendous practice of dumping raw sewage into our waterways.

John Penrose the Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare and James Heappey who was bought up in Nailsea and is now the Conservative MP for Wells also voted down the amendement.

  • On a brighter note Dr Fox had a meeting on Thursday morning, October 22, with Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, (pictured below) and education secretary Nadhim Zahawi (also pictured below) to discuss his Private Members’ Down Syndrome Bill  which will be debated in the House of Commons on Friday, November 26. 

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Steel digest

Highlights

  • Grove Feasibility Study Presentation

  • 7.5 tonne weight restriction for High Street

  • Art Project

  • Grant Success

 

Nailsea Town Council had a full town council meeting on Wednesday, October 20, with a few points I think will interest residents.
One agenda item was a presentation by One50Studios on a feasibility study for the Grove. 
Nailsea Town Council own the land but it is leased to the Nailsea Playing Fields Association (NFPA).  The Grove Sports and Social Club (building) is a ‘not for profit’ organisation managed by volunteers.
The 1960s building (primarily built originally as a badminton hall) has been in need of improvement for a few years but funds have not been available. It’s still at very early stages but one of the ideas the town council is exploring is potentially investing in an upgrade of the building / a totally new building / mixture of the two and so they engaged One50Studios to do a feasibility study of the site and what changes may possibly look like and cost.
The feasibility study highlighted some of the previous buildings they have worked and their costs. It also ran through the current pros and cons of the current site/building and the potential development.
Any of the ideas would require significant funding via grants and utilising the Engine Lane sale income so the plan is to include this idea in the public consultation being planned for the Engine Lane income.
There is no set date for the consultation yet but the town council again confirmed no large spend would be sanctioned before the public consultation has happened.
A query was raised by a councillor if the town council felt it had consulted the NFPA and the Grove enough in the process around creating the feasibility study.
A proposal was approved by councillors to arrange a meeting to discuss the current lease that the NFPA hold at The Grove as security of tenure has been an issue for them recently.
In reports from North Somerset district councillors,  the town council were made aware that the plans to improve the service road (behind Mendip Carpets and North Somerset Conservative Association HQ) and a 7.5 Tonne absolute vehicle weight restriction to the high street is scheduled to start early next year. 
Clerk Jo Duffy made councillors aware that the town council has been notified they have been successful in their grant application for a variety of upgrades in the town including Christmas lights, additional carvings, and work planned for the green area behind Waitrose / in front of the bike shop and more.
The clerk also made councillors aware that the council is close to launching its art project which will include running a range of classes for residents with life drawing, pottery making , wood carving, plus more which is planned to be split across No65 High Street and Scotch Horn Leisure Centre.
The info above is not the full agenda which can be found here: https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/minutes-agendas/.
As always I would like to be clear that the above is just my personal feedback on what I felt would be of interest and it is NOT an official statement from the Town Council.
More information on any item above can be found by contacting the town council offices on 01275 855277 or enquiries@nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk .
Finally and on a personal note I really enjoyed a visit and tour of the Grove club last week. It was so obvious how passionate the members are and the team that volunteer to run it have achieved amazing things in my eyes.
I was blown away that they have 1,000 members (seven per cent of the population of Nailsea) and such a range of clubs, organisations and groups. We are so lucky to have these clubs and volunteers in our town.

 

James Steel

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EAT:NAILSEA: North Somerset MP Liam Fox was among the throng to venture out for the Ab Fab street fair in Nailsea. The al fresco culinary event in the traffic free High Street and Somerset Square was a marvellous success on a sunny Saturday, October 9. See more photos of the food and drink festival in a slideshow in our gallery HERE and a video made by Mike James, of Nailsea Cider. Liam is pictured tasting homemade chocolate and perhaps a non-alcohol tipple? He also meet the Nailsea in Bloom gardeners launching the annual poppy appeal for the Royal British Legion which is featured on our BMD page HERE 

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Nailsea Town Council
finance and policy committee
unofficial digest from councillor James Steel

Nailsea Town Council met on Wednesday, September 29, for its finance and policy committee meeting. It wasn’t a packed agenda but there were some very interesting discussions and I’ve tried to highlight the points I felt may be of interest below.
We reviewed the latest income and expenditure report which can be found on the agenda. It is a detailed list of the town council budget and current spend.
The town clerk Jo Duffy made councillors aware that the town council will be receiving a £183,000 CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) payment soon. A CIL payment is a levy that North Somerset charge on new developments and Nailsea Town Council receives 15 per cent of the payments to spend locally on behalf of residents. 
More information on CIL can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/community-infrastructure-levy.
Councillors reviewed an overview of the Tithe Barn and No 65 High Street hire income so far this year which was interesting. These quarterly income reports are new this year created by finance & policy committee chairman Ben Kushner and also the town council staff in order to provide councillors a clearer understanding of quarterly hiring income.
The Tithe Barn’s income target is still a lot lower than pre-Covid but is on target so far this year boosted by some weddings that were delayed last year so fell into this year. The Tithe Barn can be hired for weddings, parties, celebrations, events and also by clubs and groups. 
No65 is behind its current target. As a service No65 was never intended to make a profit as the philosophy behind it is the social benefit it provides to residents. Based on the high street it’s a community building where Citizens Advice, Your Cancer Cafe, youth club, Nailsea Disability Initiative and other services meet to provide support to residents. 
The council also provide a techno timid and utilities switching service to residents that need support online.  

Councillors have been actively and continually working this year on ways to improve No65 both in the services it provides, the amount it is utilised and

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also its cost base. If you haven’t popped in yet please do so and find out more. Finally we discussed the business case provided by Memories At The Barn. This group run the memory cafe, music and memories and also their new venture the barn owls choir all aimed at providing dementia care and support. They do an absolutely amazing job supporting residents which I think all councillors are in awe of.
The info above is not the full agenda which can be found here: https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/minutes-agendas/.
The above is just my personal feedback on what I felt would be of interest and it is NOT an official statement from the town council.
More information on any item above can be found by contacting the town council offices on 01275 855277 or enquiries@nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk.

James Steel

What the papers say

Of the two ‘celeb’ features in the weekend newspapers we read we found Jason Donovan’s re-hash interview in The Guardian ‘boring’ but glad he is coming back to the Bristol Hippodrome with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

This is hitting the Bristol Hippodrome next summer.

Tickets here https://www.ents24.com/bristol-events/the-bristol-hippodrome/joseph-and-the-amazing-technicolor-dreamcoat/6336236.

However, the Sunday Times Fame And Fortune feature about our North Somerset MP Liam Fox who we haven’t seen since his 60th birthday party at the Carlton Club in London last week is a little more revealing.

This tells of his confession to being a ‘music addict’ although neither the aforementioned Aussie musical performer Jason nor pop star and rumoured old flame Natalie Imbruglia.are on his playlist.

The Tory MP and former GP who grew up in an East Kilbride council house loves martinis and art museums and says he has practically every 12-inch single from the 1980s, write journalist York Membery who wasn't at the birthday bash.

Liam also reveals his pay packet, an airline losing his shirt and more on a trip to South America and his love of Balvenie Caribbean Cask whisky.

Liam is quoted as saying: ‘My biggest payday was winning a libel case’.

He also describes his Scottish grandfather as ‘a dreadful socialist’ who preferred to save and then spend his coalminer earnings as he

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abhorred credit.

To read the article in full online is not free as the Rupert Murdoch owned publication has a paywall.

It costs 86p a day to sign up.

Go to https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/liam-fox-my-biggest-payday-was-winning-a-libel-case-66w2krtgv or you could borrow the Nailsea People cutting?

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Friends across political pond

North Somerset MP Liam Fox is the new chairman of the Conservative Friends of America.
Founded by the Cornwall county councillor Tara Sherfield who represents Long Rock, Marazion and St Erth it is a member-led organisation helping to build on the special relationship between the Conservative Party, the British American community and America.

By becoming a member of Conservative Friends of America, it says people will play an important role in strengthening ties across the Atlantic. 

Liam said: "I am delighted to accept the position of UK Chair of Conservative Friends of America.

"It is a great honour to join this fantastic new group and I look forward to strengthening ties between our two nations.

"The membership is open to both UK and US residents."
To explore its membership benefits go to https://www.cfoa.uk/membership.
Dr Fox has also been appointed chair of the UK Abraham Accords Group and an ambassador between the UK and Bahrain, UAE and Israel.
Dr Fox is a former UK International Trade Secretary, Defence Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister and NHS doctor.  
He was also the UK’s nominee to be Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2020.

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Hello and goodbye

Back on board in one man race, James Steel returns to Nailsea Town Council.

A vacancy was declared following the resignation after 13 years service of Jane Holt who works at Nailsea Waitrose.

In an uncontested election James was declared the new town councillor for Nailsea Golden Valley ward.

James a company director is a founder member of Nailsea Community Group formed to support residents during the Covid-19 crisis.

Following the signing of papers he will be officially welcomed into the position at the next Nailsea Town Council meeting on Wednesday, September 8, starting at 7.30pm.

For agenda papers go to https://www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/minutes-agendas/

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Liam Fox proposes bill to help people with Down’s syndrome

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PHOTOS: Ackley Bridge actor George Webster, North Somerset MP Liam Fox and Nailsea mum Annabel Tall

North Somerset MP Liam Fox has introduced a private members’ bill the called Down Syndrome Bill which he is hoping will become law.

Dr Fox MP was selected in a ballot of MPs to introduce a Bill on a subject of his choice in this Parliamentary session following the State Opening of Parliament by Her Majesty the Queen in May 2021.

Dr Fox has chosen to introduce a Down Syndrome Bill, which will be announced on the floor of the House of Commons on Wednesday, June 16, and will be debated for Second Reading on Friday, November 26.

The Down Syndrome Bill will lead to the establishment of a National Strategy to improve provision and outcomes for all those living with Down syndrome in the UK.

The Autism Act which became law in 2009 preceded the establishment of the National Strategy to help meet the needs of adults with autistic spectrum conditions in England.

The Down Syndrome Act will go further, identifying needs in all areas, for all individuals with Down syndrome across the whole of the UK.

The National Down Syndrome Policy Group, in coalition with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Down Syndrome, has been lobbying for the long overdue Down Syndrome Act and have released a film featuring some of their Trustees who have Down syndrome, highlighting some of the areas where they hope to see positive change in the future.

Dr Liam Fox MP said: “I am thrilled to bring forward a Bill to deal with the issues faced by those with Down syndrome.

“The full title is ‘A Bill to make provision about meeting the needs of persons with Down syndrome; to place a duty on local authorities to assess the likely social care needs of persons with Down syndrome and plan provision accordingly; and for connected purposes’.

“My aim is to deal with three main areas.

The first is to de-stigmatise Down syndrome and to re-educate both the public and professionals about the advances, including in life expectancy, that have occurred in recent decades.

The second is to ensure that current provision of services is improved, whether provided by health, education or local services, by ensuring that providers give due consideration to those with Down syndrome when designing service provision.

The third is to look ahead and deal with future issues, such as long-term care, in an era where, for the first time, many of those with Down syndrome will outlive their parents.

"By giving due thought to the issues today we can prevent avoidable human tragedies in the future.”

National Down Syndrome Policy Group (NDSPG) trustee and Ackley Bridge actor George Webster said: “A Down Syndrome Act, why didn’t we think of this before?

“We are all very excited that Dr Liam Fox is sponsoring a Bill with the aim of improving the lives of people living with Down syndrome.

“I would like to see the Bill becoming law, then I think everyone like me with Down Syndrome will get better healthcare, more access to services and be more included in society.

“It is possible. It happens for some now, but it shouldn’t be a lottery.”NDSPG chair Peter Brackett said: "For too long the voice of the Down syndrome community has not been heard.

“We are delighted that the Down Syndrome Bill will enable engagement to

secure and safeguard the rights and ambitions of the community across all aspects of society.

“Having lobbied hard for this opportunity, our group will be fully behind Dr Liam Fox and the Down Syndrome Bill on its journey through Parliament, in line with our aim of raising the profile of issues affecting people with Down syndrome, their families and carers.”

Annabel Tall is the North Somerset constituency assistant for Dr Fox and is thrilled with the news.

She said: "I have worked for Liam for 10 years and first met him in 2006 when I visited his MP Surgery to ask for his help getting my son Freddie, who has Down syndrome, into our local school; into any school

"Over the years I have seen him help countless people with disabilities in our constituency achieve better lives.

"He has been a great friend to Freddie who is now a 22 year old young man, at college, training to work in hospitality and catering and thanks to Liam’s help, achieving thing I couldn’t have imagined.

"It has been a struggle to get people to see Freddie’s potential and to secure the support he needs.

"It has been my life long wish that others with Down syndrome should have the same opportunities and that it should be much easier to achieve."

 

What are Private Members' Bills?

 

Private Members' Bills are Public Bills introduced by MPs and Lords who are not government ministers.

As with other Public Bills their purpose is to change the law as it applies to the general population.

There are three ways in which an MP can table a Private Members' Bill, but Ballot Bills have the best chance of becoming law, as they get priority for the limited amount of debating time available.

The names of MPs applying for a Bill are drawn in a ballot held at the beginning of the parliamentary session.

459 MPs entered the ballot and 20 were drawn. Normally, the first seven ballot Bills get a day's debate. Dr Fox was drawn in fourth place.

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Nailsea annual town meeting

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Forty Nailsea residents turned up for the annual town meeting on Friday, May 28, and 15 of those were councillors.

With a population of nearly 16,000 (you can’t council Backwell or The Elms which is in Wraxall) it wasn’t a great showing but then people are nervous in a post-pandemic, and it was the start of the bank holiday weekend.

However, it was an opportunity to reflect on ‘what was the year that was’ and for those who missed the event Nailsea People, who also was unable to attend, gives you all the details here.

Jan Barber who has served on the council since the 1980s had stepped into the breach as chairman for what she presumed would be a one-year term of office, but Covid-19 restrictions stretched this to two years.

She told the audience at Nailsea School in her report in an understated opening sentence: “What a year we have had.”

The purpose of the meeting is to honour our good and great and for 2020-21 it was Nailsea In Bloom stalwart Wendy Mobbs and 2nd Nailsea Scouts Group chairman Richard Simmons who plays with the folk group Twice Dailies at many charitable gigs.

Postponed

Mrs Barber said: “Our annual town meeting in April 2020 had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions and life is still not back to normal.

“With the lifting of some of the Covid restrictions we are now able to hold this meeting in person, but at a larger venue than the usual Tithe Barn.

“Since our last annual town meeting in 2019 we have had an election and there have been several changes to the composition of the town council. 

“One new councillor was elected, Chris Watts. 

“There were three wards in which councillors were elected unopposed and this resulted in four vacancies as insufficient residents had put themselves forward. 

“We co-opted four new councillors; Jo Hopkinson, Ben Kushner, Anita Smith and James Steel. 

“A long-standing member of council, John Wilson resigned as he moved to Cambridge and James Steel also resigned leaving us with two more co-options. 

“These were filled by Emily Miller and Anthony Hobbs. 

“We warmly welcomed all six new councillors.

“Tribute here needs to be paid to councillor Philip Barclay, a long standing member of the town council and past chairman, who decided to retire at the last election. 

“He has died aged 93 and we are going to plant trees in his memory to commemorate all the work he did through the many years of service.

“There have been several new initiatives undertaken by the new council. “The main one was to declare a Climate Emergency and, although there

GOOD AND TRUE: From top left councillor Mike Bird, scout leader Richard Simmons, councillor James Tonkin, development manager at 65 High Street Ian Morrell, team coordinator with volunteer gardeners Wendy Mobbs and last but not least councillors Jan Barber and Ben Kushner at holocaust memorial

has been a hold up due to lack of meetings due to Covid, our industrious working party is in the process of publishing a brochure on how individuals can cut their carbon footprint.

“We organised covers for the bicycle stands at Waitrose so more people may be able to ensure their bikes are not only secure, but dry. 

“There are various items which could form a code for sustainable homes, but these are almost certainly a matter of planning regulations and all we can do is lobby both central and local government. 

“We have been impressed by meeting other organisations how helpful they have been, particularly Nailsea School with its use of bamboo cutlery and scrutiny of the menu to ensure at least one day without meat. 

“The council has moved to greener energy suppliers and at Number 65 we are collecting food pouches for recycling.

“The landmark oak tree on the Village Green has had to be felled due to disease but I am pleased to report a tree sculpture reflecting the wildlife around Nailsea has been created from the remaining stump.

“The council is aiming to protect the land at The Perrings, at present a well-used open space but undesignated. 

“We are hoping it will be given town green status. 

“My thanks to the many residents who filled in the rather complicated questionnaire and showed great interest in this project.

“As I am sure you are aware, the council bought 65 High Street to use for the benefit of residents. 

“When the Covid 19 Help Group was set up at the start of lockdown last year, Number 65 was well used as a food bank.

“The town council supported the initiative by providing advice, funding and a phone hotline via our offices. 

“The re-named, Nailsea Community Group is now based at 26 Somerset Square and now runs not only the food bank, but the Community Larder, Nailsea Active and organises school meals during holidays, jigsaw puzzle library and many other such helpful enterprises. 

“Our thanks and appreciation goes to all those involved with these initiatives."

Mr Simmons gave a framed thank-you letter to North Somerset district and town councillor James Tonkin and Mr Morrell for their help securing freehold of the scout HQ.

  • See article below for an introduction to our new town council chairman and vice-chairman.

Nailsea's top councillors

The new chairman of Nailsea Town Council is Mike Bird who is also the Independent North Somerset ward councillor for Nailsea Yeo which is mostly the area to the north of the town but includes the High Street.

The vice-chairman is Emily Miller who was co-opted onto the town council a few months ago and has the vision of an arts centre and improved facilities for Nailsea.

Both were elected unopposed.

The annual town meeting was cancelled due to the death of the Duke of Edinburgh and has not yet been rearranged although we are told it will be sometime later in May.

This is not to be confused with Nailsea Town Council annual meeting - an AGM of sorts - when the new chairman and vice-chairman were elected.

This Zoom meeting on Wednesday evening also made other important decisions like who was going to judge the next best allotment competition - it will be councillors Dee Holbrook and Joanne Hopkinson - and that with the goal posts changing its planning vision for Nailsea needs a rethink.

Such was the concern about lack of school places with the impact of more homes that it was revealed the town council has written to North Somerset Council voicing its worries.

One councillor, Jeremy Blatchford who has previous been a district councillor responsible for education and young peoples services, said if the situation wasn't address he could see a situation similar to that in Long Ashton a few years ago when children were bussed to a schools in neighbouring towns. 

Mike has been an Independent Nailsea town councillor for six years, working on the planning committee and chairing the community engagement group. 

Since his early 20s, Mike has been involved in the community helping to run a youth group for many years and later serving as a governor at Nailsea School.

He took over the baton of chairman from Jan Barber who has held the role for the past two years.

Mike said: “I’d like to thank all those who have put their faith in me to take this council forward.  

“It will be my privilege to serve as chair of Nailsea Town Council and on behalf of the residents of Nailsea.  

“As I also represent Nailsea as North Somerset district councillor, I hope this will give weight to the voice of Nailsea residents locally.” 

Emily Miller was voted in as vice chair after only seven months as councillor, taking over from David Packham.

Emily has shown within a very short space of time an energy and love for the town.

She said: “I'm delighted to be given the opportunity to be vice chair of our town council.

“Having grown up in Nailsea I'm so passionate about our lovely town and I'm excited to keep working hard to improve facilities and opportunities for all who live here.”

A chairman and vice chairman is elected every May at the annual town council meeting.

The meeting was brought forward a week so that it could be held virtually before the current remote meeting legislation changes.

To find out more about Nailsea Town Council, visit www.nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk.

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Residents across Avon and Somerset Constabulary which includes Nailsea are going to the polls on Thursday, May 6, to elect a new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

The PCC elections are held every four years and the position has been held by Sue Mountstevens since 2012.

In January 2019 she announced that she would not seek re-election for a second time.

Ballots will be held on the same day as the local council elections but there are none for Nailsea and Backwill this time.

The candidates for the new Avon and Somerset PCC are:

  • Cleo Lake (Green). The former Lord Mayor of Bristol is a founding member of the Countering Colston campaign.

  • Kerry Barker (Lab). A barrister who has worked in criminal justice for many years - he came second in 2016.

  • Mark Shelford (Cons). Ex-Army officer and councillor. He has promised an immediate review into the efficiency of Avon and Somerset Police if elected.

  • Heather Shearer (Lib Dems). She is currently the vice chair of the police and crime panel that scrutinises the work of the PCC.

  • John Smith (Independent). The former deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.

North Somerset MP Liam Fox has already taken to social media to promote the Conservative candidate.

The BBC has published a guide to what PCCs do in their official capacity which you can read HERE.

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North Somerset Council has no Nailsea councillor on executive

Nailsea councillor James Tonkin has lost his top job as an executive member on North Somerset Council.

Mr Tonkin who is Independent ward councillor for Nailsea West End was seen as the champion of the controversial plan to close many country lanes to through traffic is still chairman of the planning, highways and transport committe.

This idea while on the backburner for ‘consultations’ hasn’t been abandoned.

It was announced on Tuesday evening, April 20, Mr Tonkin after one year on the executive was being replaced/sacked.

The new make-up of the council is:

Steve Bridger the Independent ward councillor for Yatton joins the executive as lead member for assets and capital delivery while adjustments are being made to other portfolios.

Mike Solomon the Independent ward councillor for Hutton and Locking becomes executive member for neighbourhoods and community services while Bridget Petty the Green Party ward councillor for Backwell will be executive member for climate emergency and engagement.

Parking scheme chief

There will also continue to be two assistant executive members with Nicola Holland who is the Independent ward councillor for Portishead West assisting with post Covid skills and education engagement and Robert Payne the Liberal Democrat ward councillor for Weston-super-Mare Centre supporting the delivery of local parking schemes.

There is no change to the political balance of the executive or to the overall number of executive members.

The changes are being introduced to ensure that the remit of each executive member is closely aligned to the council’s structure, making it easier for councillors and officers to work together to deliver the council’s priorities.

Cllr Davies said: “We are an ambitious council committed to delivering great services and improvements for the people of North Somerset.

“Rightly we have focused on supporting our communities through the pandemic over the past year, but it means we still have lots that we want to achieve over the next two years.

“It’s essential that we make it as easy as possible for our officers and senior councillors to work together so that we can achieve those goals.

“I am hugely grateful to James Tonkin and Geoff Richardson for the work they have both done for us, and also welcome Steve Bridger to the executive team and Cllr Payne as assistant executive member.”

The changes to the executive come into effect on Wednesday, April 21.

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ON YER BIKE: James Tonkin championed traffic free country lanes

and the closure of Nailsea High street

The full top team:

  • Cllr Don Davies - Leader of the Council (Independent Pill)

  • Cllr Mike Bell - Deputy Leader of the Council (Lib Dem Weston-super-Mare Central) Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing

  • Cllr Catherine Gibbons (Labour Party Weston-super-Mare Milton) Executive Member for Children’s Services and Lifelong learning

  • Cllr Nicola Holland (Independent Portishead West) Assistant Executive Member Post Covid Education and Skills recovery

  • Cllr Ash Cartman (Lib Dem Long Ashton) Executive Member for Corporate Services

  • Cllr Bridget Petty (Green Party Backwell) Executive Member for Climate Emergency and Engagement

  • Cllr Mark Canniford (Lib Dem Weston-super-Mare Hillside) Executive Member for Placemaking and Economy

  • Cllr Robert Payne (Lib Dem Weston-super-Mare Central) Assistant Executive Member Parking strategy and delivery

  • Cllr Mike Solomon (Independent Hutton and Locking)

  • Cllr Steve Bridger (Independent Yatton) Executive Member for Assets and Capital Delivery

Nailsea cancels town council meetings 

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HM the Queen is back at 'work' just days after the death of her husband HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh but council meetings up and down the country remain cancelled.

The ever dutiful Queen Elizabeth II returns to royal duties on Wednesday, April 14, to mark the retirement of her household's most senior official Earl Peel.

The Duke of Edinburgh passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle aged 99 and the televised funeral details for Saturday are on the Nailsea People BMD page HERE.

Nailsea Town Council which is flying the Station Road Union flag at half-mast is among those whose scheduled Zoom meetings cannot go ahead due to national mourning after the death of Prince Philip.

The council cannot legally hold any meetings without giving three clear working days’ notice after issuing an agenda.

However, days during a period of national mourning are not classed as working days to allow sufficient notice.

Re-arranged dates including when the annual town meeting will be held have not been announced.

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2020

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North Somerset MP Liam Fox is out of the race to be the next leader of the World Trade Organisation.

The Telegraph was first with the news on Thursday morning, October 8.

Dr Fox who was nominated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson made it to the last five out of a field of eight candidates.

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee will go head-to-head to become the trade body's first female director-general.

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COUNCILLOR RESIGNS: James Steel is now chairman and a founder member of Nailsea Community Group formerly the Covid-19 Help Group. He said: "I remain 100 per cent committed to supporting Nailsea but I simply didn’t feel I could commit the time required to represent Nailsea effectively as a councillor alongside my role in the community group and I feel at this moment in time my role within the community group has to take priority. I truly enjoyed my short time as a town councillor and I would strongly urge anyone interested in working to improve Nailsea to put themselves forward for its two current vacancies. I look forward to working closely with the town council as a resident and as part of the Nailsea Community Group and can only thank them for their continued support." James is the nonchalant chap pictured at the back of this photo taken by Nailsea People at the NCG former base at 65 High Street before taking up residency at 26 Somerset Square.

MP going for global job

On Wednesday, July 8, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson nominated former International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox as the next director general of the World Trade Organization.

This follows an announcement earlier this year that the WTO’s current director general, Roberto Azevedo would step down from his post in August, following seven years in charge.

Dr Fox boasts significant political and diplomatic experience in the field of global trade.

In support of his nomination the North Somerset MP who lives at Tickenham produced a 14-page document which you can read HERE

Dr Fox entered the House of Commons in 1992 from a sagfe Conservative seat and has since served in a wide range of posts in both government and opposition.

In the government of Prime Minister John Major, he served as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and then as Minister in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office where he answered on Trade and Aid Policy in the House of Commons.

It was during this time that he worked extensively on what became known as the ‘Fox agreement’ in Sri Lanka, designed to help foster the conditions in which a negotiated solution to the country’s civil war could be achieved.

Because WTO decisions are made by member states the director general has little power over policy matters and the role is primarily advisory and managerial.

The director general supervises the WTO secretariat of approximately 700 staff and is appointed by WTO members for a term of four years.

The current incumbent was paid a salary of 300,000 Swiss francs and an allowance of 200,000.

If elected Dr Fox would have to resign his parliamentary seat necessitating and by-election.

The eight candidates made their presentations in the order in which their candidatures were received.

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Fox on flying from Bristol

Aircraft Maintenance

North Somerset MP Liam Fox has spoken out on the plans to expand Bristol Airport - be it 18 months after they were published -  and it is nothing to do with his Tickenham home being directly under the flight path.

The controversial plans would see the airport able to handle 12 million passengers a year, up from its capacity of 10 million.

It includes proposals to build a covered pedestrian walkway at the front of the building, more parking spaces and changes to the road layout on the site.

And this comes from an MP who in 18 months in 2017-2018 clocked up 219,000 air miles visitng 27 countries on government business, according to The Telegraph newspaper.

The airport scheme has proved highly controversial with neighbouring communities and climate campaigners and the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (SBAE) group has said giving the green light to the expansion scheme would be a life sentence for villages neighbouring the airport.

Last week it was announced that North Somerset Council planning officers have recommended the application for approval.

The application has 5,400 objections and 2,200 letters of support.

In a letter to the chief executive of North Somerset Council, the Conservative MP has raised a number of concerns about the expansion plans under the headings local economy, transport infrastructure, parking and noise.

A final decision on the plans will be made at a special meeting of the council’s planning committee on Monday, February 10.

The meeting will start at 6pm at Weston-super-Mare Town Hall.

Here is Dr Fox's letter to North Somerset Council chief executive Jo Walker in full:

 

Dear Mrs Walker, I know that North Somerset Council will shortly be examining plans for  the expansion of Bristol International Airport.  I wish to make the following observations to this issue and would be grateful if they could be included.

 

BRISTOL AIRPORT EXPANSION

Bristol International Airport has been a great amenity and facility for our region and its people, including those in my constituency of North Somerset. It has improved our transport links, especially to Europe, and has been particularly popular with leisure travelers,  including those taking family holidays. From a small regional hub it has successfully transformed into a genuinely international airport and has supported a large number of jobs both directly and indirectly.

Despite the difficulties that result from its natural topographical position and lack of direct transport links, the 2011 planning permission allows the airport to expand to 10 million passengers per annum. It is clear, however, that expansion cannot continue indefinitely so the question becomes one of balance. What is a reasonable limit for expansion that will ensure, on one hand, the viability of the airport and potential support for the local and regional economy without, on the other, creating undue pressure on the local environment and its population?

In its consultation document, “Aviation 2050: the future of UK aviation”, the government set out a number of aims and tests for regional aviation.

 

LOCAL ECONOMY

In terms of the local economy the document pointed out that “airports can directly support thousands of jobs and generate economic benefits beyond the airport fence. Core and specialist aviation services, freight companies, logistics hubs and aerospace investment are often located close to airports, creating jobs in the local area. Regional airports also act as wider magnets attracting non-aviation businesses due to the air connections the airport offers but also the strong road and rail access links that support the airport. They act as a gateway to international opportunities for the regions of the UK”.

It is undoubtedly true that airports not only support jobs directly but can indirectly stimulate the local economy creating new companies and more employment opportunities. However, there are major restrictions on road access links in the case of Bristol airport and there are no rail access links at all.

A second aim set out in the document states that “the government recognises the importance of rebalancing the UK economy through the economic growth of the regions and ensuring that the UK remains competitive after we leave the EU. Through the Industrial Strategy, the government has set out its ambition to create a geographically-balanced economy that works for everyone”.There are few, if any, who do not want to see a rebalancing of the economy across the UK, but one of the key issues that Bristol airport needs to address is the very small number of business passengers, as a proportion of the total, who pass through the airport. The proximity of London Heathrow with its far more frequent services and wider range of destinations makes it a much more natural entry and exit point for business travellers. This is likely to become more so as the newly improved rail service from Bristol is connected directly with Heathrow. It is hard therefore to make the case that expansion of Bristol airport would lead to an improvement in the regional economy. It is highly likely that major international investors will continue to come via London, not least because of its world leading financial services.

/continued ...

LOCAL TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

Perhaps the single biggest impediment to expansion passenger numbers at Bristol airport is the local transport infrastructure. Our historical legacy, for a number of reasons, is that our major transport routes run from north to south – the M5, A370 and A38. There are no major West to East roads and so passengers coming to the airport have to travel through local towns and villages where there has been a major impact on road traffic. This is unavoidable when around 85% of Bristol airport passengers come by road transport. Figures produced by the airport show the following regional distribution for its passengers: West of England 35%, South Wales 20%, Devon 14%, Somerset 10%, Gloucestershire 7%, Wiltshire 7%, Cornwall 5%, Dorset 2%.

This means that a large number of passengers have to come via the M5 and leave at junctions 18, 19, 20 and 21. New restrictions in Bristol on air pollution from vehicles is likely to increase the amount of traffic using junctions 19 (already overcrowded due to the considerable expansion of Portishead), 20 and 21. This will mean considerable additional pressure on local roads which will have knock-on effects on roadside pollution and potentially on road safety where local schools are situated adjacent to main roads.

It seems that the lack of road transport is the most important rate limiting step in potential expansion. It is difficult to envisage the level of improved road provision that would change this position or how much it might cost the taxpayer. A rail link is highly unlikely due to the topography and improved bus links from central Bristol will not be effective given the geographical starting point of passengers.

If this problem cannot be solved, it is difficult to see how further expansion beyond the current limit of 10 million passengers could be justified.

NOISE

Modern aircraft have become much quieter and future technological change should improve the position even further. While aircraft noise is not an issue for the vast majority of passengers who use Bristol airport and usually not an issue for most North Somerset residents, it can produce a significant reduction in the quality-of-life for those who live directly under the flight path or adjacent to the airport itself. There has been a recent pattern of routinely setting noise caps as part of planning approvals (for increase in passengers or flights). Limiting the impact of noise must be a major consideration when determining the potential expansion of passenger numbers at Bristol airport.

The government’s consultation document states that “the aim is to balance noise and growth and to provide future certainty over noise levels to communities. It is important that caps are subject to periodic review to ensure they remain relevant and continue to strike a fair balance by taking account of actual growth and the introduction of new aircraft technology. It is equally important that there are appropriate compliance mechanisms in case such caps are breached and the government wants to explore mechanisms by which airports could ‘pay for’ additional growth by means of local compensation as an alternative to the current sanctions available “.

Government plans will require all major airports to set out a plan which commits to future noise reduction, and to review this periodically. This would only apply to airports which do not have a noise cap approved through the planning system and would provide similar certainty to communities on future noise levels. The government wants to see better noise monitoring and a mechanism to enforce these targets as for noise caps.

The noise action planning process could potentially be developed to provide the basis for such reviews, backed up by additional powers as necessary for either central or local government or the CAA. In order to help facilitate these changes the government has established a new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise. ICCAN will advise the government on best practice on noise mitigation, and how the needs of affected communities can best be served in the airspace modernisation programme. The government has committed to review ICCAN’s powers within two years and this will include the possibility of putting it on a statutory footing. I would support this as I believe it has the potential to act as an empowering mechanism for local communities in the future.

PARKING

One of the most controversial aspects of the current expansion to 10 million passengers at Bristol airport relates to parking at the airport itself and its impact on local villages. Until the full parking facilities, promised by the airport’s owners and management, which were part of the previous conditions on expansion are met, it is reasonable to rule out any further expansion. The net effect of inadequate parking provision within the airport perimeter has been the displacement of parking into illegal sites, including on greenbelt, which has been difficult and expensive for the local authority to police. Residents of local villages have seen airport passengers park outside their properties, often for long periods, and use taxi services to and from the airport. The development of a substantial park-and-ride facility adjacent to the M5, which has been proposed and which I support, could see not only improved parking opportunities but would enable the use of more environmentally friendly transport with far fewer vehicle movements through adjacent villages and residential areas.

These issues are all directly applicable to this particular planning process and do not take account of generic issues surrounding aviation which are widely discussed elsewhere. It is essential that these specific problems are addressed by airport authorities and North Somerset Council before any decision on Bristol Airport Limited’s current planning application is taken.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Liam Fox

NEW YEAR'S HONOUR: North Somerset MP Liam Fox has congratulated Ione Douglas on receiving an MBE in the New Years’ Honours List for Public, Political and Parliamentary services during the past 50 years. Ione has worked for Dr Fox and the constituents of North Somerset for more than 20 years. However, Ione first started working for the Conservative Party in 1966 and has worked for several notable politicians such Cecil Parkinson, Major Sir Hugh Fraser, Sir Bill Cash, Lord (John) Cope and William Waldegrave before starting work for Dr Fox in 1998. Dr Fox said “I am absolutely delighted that Ione’s outstanding and relentless hard work to public service has been recognised in this way. I have held over 450 surgeries and seen over 8,000 individual constituents since becoming an MP and I cannot count the number of constituents who have written or come to one of my surgeries who have later thanked me for all the work Ione has done on their behalf." Many Nailsea people joined in the congratulations on the Nailsea People Facebook page including Richard Hendricks who said: "Absolutely brilliant Mrs Douglas has been so helpful to my daughter in particular over the last few years if ever an award was deserved it is this one. Congratulations Ione you’re a star!" and Courtenay Collins who said: "Ione, you help me get back one my feet and back to work. So it’s well deserved. Thank you."

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2019

General election 2019

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The Conservatives have won their biggest majority since 1987 in the 2019 general election.

North Somerset returned Liam Fox to parliament with more votes than ever.

The Conservative won 52.9 per cent of the vote.

he MP served as Secretary of State for International Trade from 2016 to 2019 and Secretary of State for Defence from 2010 to 2011.

His vote share is down 1.3 per cent from the 2017 election.

Dr Fox now has a comfortable majority of 17,536.

Dr Fox tweeted his thanks to Conservative voters while thanking his team and staff on duty at Hutton count he also magnanimously thanked fellow candidates saying their willingness to fight in this ‘safe seat’ is what makes democracy function.

Labour's Hannah Young was his nearest rival and she got 24.6 per cent of the vote with 15,265.

This was two per cent lower than in 2017, reflecting the national poor performance from Labour.

Boris Johnson has returned to power as Prime Minister with a huge majority, after winning scores of seats off Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.

Liam Fox (Conservative): 32,801
Hannah Young (Labour): 15,265
Ashley Cartman (Liberal Democrat): 11,051
Phil Neave (Greens): 2,938

Liberal Democrat Ashley Cartman got 11,051 votes in North Somerset with 17.8 per cent.

This was an increase of 8.2 per cent for the Liberal Democrats locally on a night when the Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson lost her seat in East Dunbartonshire.

The Green candidate Phil Neve got 4.7 per cent with 2,938 votes.

This was a small increase of 1.5 per cent for the Green candidate.

The turnout in Somerset North was 77.4 per cent of the 80,194 registered voters up four per cent from 2017.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promotes Nailsea man and former army officer the MP for Wells James Heappey to Minister for Defence Procurement.