Bath and North East Somerset Independent Group 

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  • 15 Mar 2019 9:14 AM | Peter Andrews (Administrator)


    Imagine the scene…

    It’s Thursday May 2nd, 2019. 

    You’re standing in the polling booth studying the options: who are you going to vote for as your local Councillor?

    As your eyes run down the list of political parties offering their candidates, your mind turns to the bizarre goings on in Westminster over the last few weeks/months/years.

    You ask yourself – ‘how can I vote for any of the parties who’ve made such a mess of this country?’ Or more importantly, ‘why should I vote for them?’ As John Cleese demands to know (in Life Of Brian) – “What have they ever done for us?”

    But wait – before you tear up your ballot paper and go home in a sulk – there is an option that doesn’t involve voting for a national party.

    BIG – Bath & N E Somerset Independent Group – is fielding candidates all over BANES. People who don’t belong to a national party, and represent local views. You can see one of them, Jess Milton tell you why here

    Yes – you can vote for BIG and not feel squeamish.

    And if you have to vote for your traditional party (old habits die hard), then remember you have (in most wards) 2 votes. So you can vote for BIG and still give another vote to the national party of your choice – except of course in Bathavon North where they are 2 wonderful candidates and so you’ll want to vote for both of them.

    https://bigindependents.org/candidates

  • 21 Feb 2019 12:06 PM | Peter Andrews (Administrator)


    Whether or not you admire the decision of 11 (and counting) MPs to defect from their original party to go independent, this week – and beyond - may be a turning point in British political life, with implications for politics throughout the country; including local politics.

     

    The 2 party system that has dominated British politics since long before any of us was born is falling apart. The impact of Brexit and the accompanying poison that has infiltrated the public conversation, means that a party rooting for conservatism and a party calling for socialism (plus a third party that isn’t quite sure what it wants) are irrelevant to the priorities that concern most people.

     

    Setting aside the fact that the impact of climate change makes Brexit look like the most petty and superficial of issues which will be washed away in the not too distant future, we are still left with a political system whose heyday was the 19th Century when Gladstone and Disraeli took it in turns to rule the waves.

     

    Us vs them. Good vs bad. Sitting on either side of a dangerously antiquated building, hurling insults at each other and behaving like badly brought up children. If this is the best we can do, then we really are in trouble.

     

    MPs belonging to one of the major parties are encouraged to behave like one-eyed football supporters, blind to their own faults and insisting on magnifying the slightest failing on the other side.

     

    So what are the implications for our local politicians?


    In less than 3 months, there will be elections in Bath & North East Somerset, which will have more of an impact on your everyday life than most of the decisions made in Westminster. For the next 4 years, the 59 women and men who we elect, will  run this amazing place we live in; the question is, how will they choose to do so?

     

    As a resident of B&NES you have a choice. Do you want someone else to decide how your community is run, someone whose main qualification is to belong to a political party with an ideology made elsewhere? Or should you help make those decisions yourself by becoming a BIG councillor?


    And as a voter you also have a choice. You can vote for someone because she or he belongs to a party you have always voted for. OR, you can vote for someone from the new local independent party BIG whose only loyalty is to the electorate. BIG has no central party organisation in London; it is not part of a wider political agenda, with divided allegiances to its leader. We are local.


    BIG represents the desire of its members and the wider public for an authentic and common sense form of local politics that is focused on the place we live in. This may be the beginning of an earthquake in politics. It starts here.  Join us and you can be part of it.

  • 11 Feb 2019 4:40 PM | Chris Rogers (Administrator)

    Could you - or someone you know - help BIG co-ordinate its campaign? Read on!

    As the campaign temperature rises in the run up to the elections on 2nd May, BIG wishes to appoint a Campaign Co-ordinator to work on a flexible part-time basis for two to three days per week. Reporting to the Management Committee, the appointee will co-ordinate the activities of the communications team, our candidates and our volunteers with the aim of broadcasting the BIG story to the media and to the electorate.

    The successful candidate, not necessarily a communications professional, will be a self-starter, able to take an overview of all the many activities that BIG needs to do to get elected. They must be confident that they can organise the relevant teams in BIG to do what they say they will do, and chase up those that don’t.

    The position, which run at least until the end of May 2019, is ideal for someone looking to beef up their CV and/or wanting to be part of a new and better way of doing local politics.

    Please send your application, together with a summary of your work experience and a statement describing how your personal qualities make you the right person for the job, to communications@bigindependents.org.

  • 11 Feb 2019 4:03 PM | Chris Rogers (Administrator)


    There are 2 sorts of change.

    One of them involves a real alteration – such as buying a new shirt.

    The other involves gong back to what you did before – such as changing a shirt for one you wore a week ago.

    In B&NES Council, leadership has switched back and forth between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives every 4 years.

    Up until 2015, the Lib Dems were the controlling party. So when they present themselves as a new broom, offering change for the better, they are assuming that we – the electorate – have very short memories. Everything that they are promising to do from May 2019, could have been done between 2011 and 2015; and there was more money to spend then.

    The Lib Dems don’t offer real change; they are the other side of the coin that was flipped a few years ago.

    BIG is different.

    There is no track record to judge us by. We have no history of failure or promises that are conveniently forgotten when the election is over, and reality kicks in. We are an unknown quantity.

    Which is why we are proposing policies that will help the whole community AND we are also committed to behaving differently to the major political parties.

    I’ve never met anyone – apart from politicians – who think that slagging off the opposition is clever or a vote-winner; yet it is what political parties do over and over again.

    I’ve never met anyone – apart from the most diehard party supporter – who believes that promises which are made before an election carry any weight; especially when they are phrased so vaguely that they could mean anything – or nothing. Yet that is what political parties do over and over again.

    BIG offers 2 main differences:

    We will behave differently. We are not interested in point-scoring, name calling or one-upmanship. We think decisions should be made on the basis of the best evidence available, and that there is talent in every part of B&NES which can made use of when decisions are being taken (a recent example would be on the issue of the Clean Air Zone).

    We have a list of major policy areas, within which we aim to achieve success both in the short and the long term. We won’t offer to do things that are not within our control; and we will admit when we have fallen short.

    A FINAL THOUGHT:

    If you want real change, the best thing is to put yourself forward as a candidate. You may say you don’t know anything about politics OR you don’t understand what’s involved OR you don’t have the time.

    BUT remember that most existing councilors started out in the same position. And do we really want a Council full of elderly/middle-aged white men whose opinions were formed in the last millennium?

    Your Council really does need YOU.


    Article by Philip Raby, Nominating Officer for Bath and North East Somerset Independent Group.

  • 27 Jan 2019 11:08 AM | Chris Rogers (Administrator)

    On Sunday 24th February, researcher, local historian and BIG candidate for Kingsmead Molly Consibee will lead a guided walk through Bath city streets in search of the answer to the question:

    "What can Bath's past tell use about its potential for an independent future?"

    Starting outside Mus coffee shop in Widcombe High Street at 2pm and ending The Bell in Walcot, everyone is welcome to come and join in. Put it in the diary now!

     


  • 5 Jan 2019 1:48 PM | Chris Rogers (Administrator)

    All of our candidates and supporters share the belief that with determination and hard work we can come together to improve the lives and prospects of all residents in Bath and North East Somerset - but we all have our individual reasons for getting involved with BIG. Nola Edwards is our candidate for Combe Down, and this is her story.

    When Nola Edwards opened a letter from Curo in 2013, she could never have imagined that 5 years later, she would be spearheading a Judicial Review that would overturn their plans for Foxhill, resulting in an extraordinary reversal of policy by the housing development company and B&NES Council.

    In the letter, Curo informed residents they were now living in a regeneration zone but gave no indication that they intended to demolish a large part of the estate. It later emerged that in Nola’s case, that meant the offer of a smaller house, with a smaller garden that she would only own two thirds of. Not a great deal, in other words.


    Nola moved to Bath in 1981, living in a flat in Grosvenor, then in Moorlands, before acquiring her small house in Foxhill, where she brought up her daughter on her own. She worked for City of Bath College (once better known as The Tech) for 27 years, until a succession of cuts prompted her to find work at Bayntun’s Bookbinders.

    When it became clear that CURO/B&NES’s plan was to demolish 542 homes, resulting in net loss of 256 homes for social rent, it would have been easy for Nola and her neighbours to feel powerless against the combined political and financial muscle of a big company and a Council. But the lesson that Nola learned from her experience is that a mixture of determination, good PR, and – most importantly – working together, can achieve miracles.

    When Foxhill Residents Association was set up 2 years after the original letter, Nola found herself first as Secretary, then as Chair. But it was hard to generate interest in the wider community of Bath until Curo’s cable car proposal infuriated the residents of Widcombe; at which point Nola convinced them that Curo’s plans were in direct opposition to the values they believed in.


    The cable car was scrapped in July 2017, but that same month planning permission was granted (by a majority of 5-4) for Curo’s redevelopment. Nola and the FRA asked for the matter to be called in by central government, but Sajid Javid declined to overrule the local decision.

    “Which left us with only one choice,” says Nola. “Unless we were to give up the fight after all these years, we had to apply for a Judicial Review.” A Judicial Review costs thousands of pounds, but crowdfunding raised enough money to see them through – including a cap of £14,000 with the Council, saving us (the taxpayer) a significantly larger sum.

    The rest is history. The Judicial Review was successful; planning permission was overturned, and Goliath retired from the field of battle.

    Nola holds no grudges. “It was always about doing right by my friends and neighbours in the area. Curo thought they could get away with anything because people wouldn’t fight back. They didn’t like it when we did, but at the end of the day the right choice was made. And more importantly, people have discovered that if you fight long enough and hard enough, you can move mountains.”
    Which is why she has decided to stand as a candidate for BIG in the forthcoming May 2019 elections. “The next mountain is to take back control of the Council for ordinary people, so we can make decisions for everyone’s benefit.”


  • 19 Dec 2018 12:23 PM | Chris Rogers (Administrator)


    BIG has always supported the idea of the Meadows as public space kept safe for future generations to enjoy.

    BIG will work towards selling all fields in Bathampton Meadows, currently owned by BANES, to the National Trust.

    Bath & North East Somerset independent Group (BIG) was formed through grassroots campaigning. We were inspired by the dedication of the team formed to save the Bathampton Meadows. BIG has always supported the idea of the Meadows as public space since it was formed in November 2017.

    Emma Adams and Andrew Lea were founding partners of the Meadows Alliance and have been selected as the BIG candidates for the Bathavon North ward.


    Emma Adams says “I am disturbed to find that, yet again, an issue that should unite us is being used as a point scoring party political football. The Meadows are for all the people of Bath & North East Somerset and we will completely respect that fact.”

    Andrew Lea says “The Meadows have been consistently under threat from this and previous administrations, unwilling to find real solutions to the traffic congestion issues for the East of B&NES. As a leading member of the campaign group I am proud that the people came together and overcame this ill-thought out party policy.’

    Emma and Andrew go on to say, "If BIG is successful at the May 2019 elections we will work towards selling all fields in Bathampton Meadows, currently owned by BANES, to the National Trust. We would also work with the National Trust to protect all remaining privately owned fields. BIG would negotiate for the Meadows to be cared for by the Avon Wildlife Trust.

    Any money from the sale will be ring-fenced and used to re-invest in community projects which have suffered from cuts over the last decade.

    BIG's vision of a green environment for everyone goes far beyond petty party politics. To be perfectly clear, we want the meadows kept safe for future generations to enjoy.”

    Read more about Emma and Andrew here: Candidates


  • 21 Nov 2018 12:00 PM | Chris Rogers (Administrator)

    Treasurer Joy Saunders addresses delegates at the AGM (photo: Chris Cook)

    Members of BIG's Management Committee and Co-ordinating Group assembled for the Annual General Meeting in St Luke's Church Centre last Friday to hear reports of progress and learn about plans for widening engagement and announcing the selection of new candidates ahead of the campaign season leading up to next May's local elections.

    Following formal proceedings, BIG's Communications Manager Peter Andrews hosted a party for supporters at his home to celebrate BIG's first birthday.

    BIG candidate Jess Milton cuts the cake (photos: Chris Cook)

  • 18 Nov 2018 1:20 PM | Chris Rogers (Administrator)

    On Friday 16th November the main auditorium at the Assembly Rooms was filled to close capacity with delegates attending the Future of Transport in Bath conference.


    Pictured: Emma Adams of BIG. Highlights of her speech here.

    The conference was organised and introduced by Van DuBose, Bath resident and Chair of the Bath Alliance for Transport and Public Realm.  Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, welcomed delegates and applauded the initative. Keynote speaker Richard de Cani (Director of Transport Planning and Homes for Arup) emphasised the importance of defining visionary goals for transport before identifying solutions, the requirement for evidence-based research as part of the exercise, and the importance of understanding the criteria for attracting funding. Tim Warren, speaking for the West of England Combined Authority, expressed optimism that new money would become available to the city. Sir Peter Hendy said that there was a perfectly good transport plan in place for Bath, but that the city lacks the political will to implement it, and it was inevitable that there would be losers as well as winners in the process.  Mark Shelford (Conservative Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment) said that his administration was making good progress with delivering the transport plan.  Councillors Robin Moss (Labour), Neil Butters and Richard Samuel (LibDem) voiced their disappointment that the Mayor of WECA had yet to attend a transport meeting in Bath and demanded that he should start showing an interest.  Emma Adams, speaking for BIG (pictured above), called for effort to be put into understanding the issues and challenges faced by residents in relation to transport, and making better use of the available evidence, before developing solutions which could then be explained and justified.  You can see a short extract from her speech here: https://youtu.be/Gq_nmOh9-dc

    There was general consensus that transport planning and delivery in Bath has been one of Bath's defining failures in the recent years (particularly when compared with the successful implementation of effective plans in York, a city of similar size and economic profile). While there are no crystal ball solutions, delegates left the conference with a clearer understanding of the issues and for the need for all stakeholders in the city to work together to towards defining goals and implementing solutions.


  • 12 Nov 2018 11:32 AM | Chris Rogers (Administrator)

    B&NES’ newest political movement Bath and North East Somerset Independent Group celebrates its first-year birthday by announcing its first 5 candidates.


    Left to right: Stephen Taylor, Nola Edwards, Jess Milton, Emma Adams, Molly Conisbee.


    From a standing start, just one year ago, Bath and North East Somerset Independent Group (BIG) has brought together a group of concerned residents and local business people whose aim is to take control of the unitary authority and run it for the benefit of all residents, free of interference from Westminster.

    BIG believes it is time for real, positive change in local politics. The way to get the best for our communities is to have a council made up of councillors working together not point scoring against each other.

    An independent council means every councillor brings their own expertise and enthusiasm to the table without being forced to follow orders from party HQ. Such a model can harness the amazing talents and ideas of everyone in our communities, not just those who sign up to everything that their political party stands for.

    BIG’s councillors, once elected, will work together with common aims, using an agreed set of principles of open and transparent government.

    Spokesperson and BIG candidate Molly Conisbee says ‘We urgently need local answers to local issues. National party politics has dominated the Guildhall for too long. While political parties are arguing amongst themselves, they are not focusing on improving the quality of life for their constituents in B&NES, or offering anything hopeful or forward-looking for communities.’

    Bidding to be the youngest woman councillor in B&NES Jess Milton says ‘It is time for change; we will develop a compelling vision for this most beautiful, exciting part of the South West. We will introduce policies that build for a long-term future, not just until the next elections.’

    BIG candidate Emma Adams is Chair of Batheaston parish council and a leading community activist. She is bidding to represent the ward of Bathavon North and says ‘we invite people to join us now, to work with us on policies, to stand as councillors and to help us in any way they can. We want to bring politics back to the people of B&NES not just leave it to the party politicians.'

    See profiles of all 5 candidates here.


    [We are now interviewing candidates to stand as councillors for BIG at the local elections in May 2019.  If you think you might be interested in this opportunity, and would like to find out more about what's involved, this guide will help answer your initial questions and concerns: https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/be-councillor-guide-13f.pdf

    Then do get in touch with us for a no-obligation chat by contacting Stephen Taylor - stephen7675@gmail.com or 07801 336133]

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BIG is registered with The Electoral Commission as a political party in Great Britain, registration number PP6744. We are funded entirely by subscriptions and donations from individual supporters below the amount reportable to the Electoral Commission.  We do not accept corporate donations. Privacy Policy

Promoted by Stephen Taylor on behalf of the Bath & Northeast Somerset Independent Group (BIG), both of 10 Russell St, Bath BA1 2QF

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