Local Democracy – Bath & North East Somerset

In March 2019, at a meeting of full council, Bath & North East Somerset Council resolved to acknowledge that there is a climate emergency and to provide leadership to enable a carbon neutral B&NES by 2030. The council has created a climate emergency page to provide updates on progress following the resolution.

A Climate Emergency and Sustainability Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel was set up in July 2019 and provides a forum through which policy review and development around climate emergency and sustainability can be extensively examined before consideration and decision by the Cabinet and/or Full Council.

The council website has a section on Your Council and Democracy, including:

  • A list of councillors (including how to find the councillor for your area)
  • Details of committees (with dates of meetings, agenda, minutes etc)
  • Webcasts of the most important meetings.

You can ask questions or make a statement at most meetings or send them in advance if you cannot attend. Answers are recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

You can subscribe to regular email updates from B&NES Council

B&NES Council has established six Area Forums to enable public services and local residents to work together to address areas of concern in local communities. These cover Bath City, Bathavon North, Cam Valley, Chew Valley, Keynsham Area Forum and Somer Valley. They are made up of B&NES councillors, parish councils, local groups and residents. Any member of the community is welcome to attend and to raise the need for community energy and other climate action initiatives. For details of all the forums, updates and dates of forthcoming meetings go to the Connecting Communities page. More detailed information can be found in the Connect Communities Framework.

North East Somerset has a number of Parish and Town Councils. The city of Bath is not parished but has the Bath City Forum. The Parish Liaison Meeting is a joint consultative body set up to consider issues of common interest between the Parish/Town Councils (individually or collectively) and Bath and North East Somerset Council. It normally meets three times per year.

B&NES Council have produced a Climate Emergency Parish Toolkit to support Parish & Town Councils to engage in climate emergency activities.

Planning policy is crucial in tackling the climate emergency. A Local Plan forms part of the development plan for the future of the local area, drawn up by the local planning authority in consultation with the community.  By law, all planning applications for new development must be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material circumstances indicate otherwise. Here is an extract from the Local Plan relating to the climate change and community energy that BWCE circulated to supporters in December 2019. The B&NES Local Plan is currently under review. Sign up to the BWCE newsletter and we will let you know of any relevant consultations.

Neighbourhood plans are officially recognised and provide a legally robust opportunity for communities to produce positive and ambitious sustainable energy plans.

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is made up of three of the councils in the region – Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire and chaired by the West of England Mayor. Central Government has delegated spending to WECA on the region’s transport, housing, adult education and skills. WECA declared a climate emergency in July 2019. The South West Energy Hub is managed by the West of England Combined Authority and funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The team provides free expert advice and extra capacity to get public and voluntary sector energy schemes off the ground, for example helping with feasibility studies, planning applications and funding bids.