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B&NES Council Corporate Strategy 2020 to 2024

Welcome and foreword

Welcome from the Leader of our council

Our council exists for a clear purpose - to improve people’s lives in Bath & North East Somerset. Our administration was elected in May 2019 on a bold and ambitious manifesto of change. This strategy sets out how we will make this a reality and deliver these commitments.

Just weeks after the council adopted this strategy in February 2020, COVID-19 hit.

As well as the tragic loss of life and the huge strains placed on local people and communities, COVID-19 has affected our services, our finances and our staff. At one point during lockdown we were losing £91,000 a day in car parking and Roman Baths income alone. We have had to make difficult decisions but have worked hard to protect local services and have kept people informed.

Responding to COVID-19 has also given us an opportunity to rethink how we work, speeding up adoption of new technology such as live remote meetings. I have held a series of webinars on a wide range of subjects, including coming to terms with the historic links our area had with the transatlantic slave trade. However, there are many residents who are not online, and we must make sure that they have access to updated information.

COVID-19 has also brought into sharp relief challenges facing our area that have sometimes been hidden or ignored. This means the commitments we made in February 2020 to address these long-term issues are even more relevant now. We all experienced the increases in air quality during lockdown. Although delayed by COVID-19, we are on track to deliver our pioneering Clean Air Zone in March 2021. COVID-19 has emphasised the fragility of our local economy with its reliance on mass international tourism and retail, but there are opportunities to make our economy stronger and more diverse particularly through green recovery as we deliver our commitment to net zero by 2030. Social distancing has meant a big priority for more walking and cycling. Partnership working with our third sector and local public services through the Community Wellbeing Hub (formerly the Compassionate Communities Hub) has been a lifeline for many residents, particularly our most vulnerable.

The vaccine gives us hope, but we must all continue to follow all rules that are in place in response to the pandemic.

We are passionate about Bath and North East Somerset. We are proud of our diverse and vibrant communities, our strong economy, our heritage, our beautiful surroundings and the people who live and work here. We are determined you will have a greater say on the issues that are most important to you.

We have made a strong start in the most challenging of circumstances and I welcome you holding us to account for delivering the commitments set out in this strategy.

Cllr Dine Romero

Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council

Foreword from the Chief Executive

My job as Chief Executive is to ensure everyone who delivers our services - whether that’s in social care, refuse collection or highways - is focused on improving people's lives in Bath & North East Somerset.

This corporate strategy is all about achieving this. It sets out what we plan to do, how we plan to do it, and how we will measure our performance. It will guide us as we take decisions and help us become more accountable to the communities we serve.

We are publishing this strategy later than expected. When Council adopted it on 25 February 2020, it set a new direction built around our purpose of improving people’s lives. We also agreed a budget and delivery plan to ensure the strategy could be carried out.

COVID-19 changed many things for us, as it did for our local communities. We reacted swiftly to protect the most vulnerable through initiatives such as the cross-partner Compassionate Communities Hub (now the Community Wellbeing Hub). Staff were redeployed and some projects put on hold. Some facilities, including libraries and the Roman Baths, were closed as a result of the national restrictions brought in to address the pandemic. We changed the way we delivered services through increased working from home and innovation such as more online delivery.

We also had to deal with the enormous financial impacts of COVID-19, particularly the loss of income from heritage attractions and car parking as a result of the lockdown, but also the wider economic impacts of COVID-19 on tourism and the visitor and retail economy. But we have taken firm action to put our finances back on track, and we are now making progress on helping our community to recover from the crisis, supporting:

  • Reopening - ensuring that our high streets, shops, hospitality and other services are supported to reopen safely
  • Renewal - ensuring that we take opportunities to address the long-term issues facing the area including tackling the climate and ecological emergencies and diversifying the economy
  • Resilience - building on the success of the Compassionate Communities Hub and work even more closely with partners, our third sector organisations and local volunteers to grow local capacity
WarningCOVID-19 continues to present a clear and present risk and we must all play our part.

There is considerable uncertainty facing us over the next four years covered by the strategy. COVID-19 has impacted on some of our projects, but in many cases the changes and challenges of recent months have provided new opportunities for delivery. So, whilst each section of this strategy has now been updated with our initial assessment of relevant COVID-19 impact, we have not changed our overall approach or the commitments we made in February 2020, with the exception of adding an additional commitment to deliver our Local Outbreak Management Plan

All our public meetings and Area Forums are now live streamed on our YouTube channel and we hold regular webinars on topics ranging from finances to young people, all of which has opened up new opportunities for people to have their say in ways we could not have envisaged a matter of months ago.

We are regularly reporting back on the delivery of our strategy commitments. Please sign-up to our weekly e-newsletter, visit our website, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and follow us on social media to stay updated.

Will Godfrey

Chief Executive