William Heath's blog

Neglected: our local Georgian lido…but not for ever

Posted on Mar 2nd in Uncategorized

The neglected Georigian baths from 1815 are the earliest open-air pool in the country.

The neglected Georgian baths from 1815 are said to be the earliest open-air pool in the country.

This isn’t right. In a lovely and neglected corner of Bath languishes the country’s earliest lido, the Georgian Cleveland Pools. There’s a long back story here (which seems to include seeing this beautiful historic site used as a trout farm).

I took a stroll there yesterday. It was closed, but local sentiment (based on sample of two cheery punters sitting on their front patio having a fag) seemed in favour of restoration and reopening. It’s already open once a fortnight (every other Monday) to teams of volunteers. The local paper now says the local council B&NES has set aside £200,000 to add to any successful Heritage lottery fund bid.

The local community saved The Bell. Now it must surely be able to salvage this quirky spot. And – sure enough – there’s a well shaped campaign and a Cleveland Pools Trust working to guide this through. They’re talking of eco-heating, river access (the location is a parking no-no) and sensitive restoration. I don’t see how they can do that in time for the 20oth anniversary next year, but I bet it won’t take much longer than that.

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Testing out the FoI process with B&NES

Posted on Nov 21st in Uncategorized

In Bath we live in a world heritage city. But have we got a world-class local authority?

People moan a lot about Bath & North-East Somerset District Council, about mediocrity and arbitrary decisions. Protest is growing: one Friend staked out the Twerton public loos to prevent their closure (see national press) and is now campaigning against Citizens’ Advice Bureau funding cuts.

But all councils face growing demand for services and budget constraints, and the challenges of running a uniquely beautiful city made out of crumbling stone must be, well, uniquely challenging.

I’m curious to check out some specific complaints, and to start to assemble a picture of how rational and responsive the council is on a particular issues.

One tendency I’ve noticed is that people complain about the mediocrity of council actions and then mutter that it’s because they’re all masons. I’ve no idea if this it true or not (presumably not, given that the CEO is a woman) but it begs the question: how does a local authority protect itself from a perception among staff and residents that membership of secret societies affects their judgement and actions? That seems worth one FoI request.

Another Friend is trying to establish a small travellers’ site but is suffers bullying and abuse locally, and appears to get no support from authorities and police. His plans seem well thought out, and consistent with national policy for making civilised arrangements for travellers. But he says B&NES makes no such provisions whatever, despite a legal obligation to do so. That seems worth an FoI request also.

Let’s see if this much maligned FoI process works. MySociety’s Whatdotheyknow.com web site seems excellent, and easy to use. So far I’ve had boilerplate acknowledgement on both requests from the council’s information compliance officer. Let’s see.

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YMG2014: planning the Gathering in Uni of Bath’s brand new Chancellors’ Building

Posted on Nov 17th in Uncategorized

The Yearly Meeting Gathering group (”Team YMG”) spent the weekend planning next August’s event at the University of Bath’s brand new Chancellors’ Building.

Here are some pictures of the new building, which will supplement the tented village being used for the event. For more details and booking see the YMG web site.

The Uni of Bath's new Chancellors Building should offer a spectacular welcome for Gatherers

The Uni of Bath's new Chancellors' Building should offer a spectacular welcome for Gatherers

The main spaces including corridors and an intriguing atrium have great potential for accommodating different parts of the proposed arts programme.

Its a modern and bright building. Throughout the interior every surface is broken up with interesting shapes and textures.

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The Clump as part of the Bath skyline

Posted on May 11th in Uncategorized

(repost from Kelstonroundhill.com)
The City, the National Trust and others speak of an integrated Bath skyline, and the Kelston Clump is clearly part of it. For example the DTel of 23 May had a lovely Bath skyline pic with the Clump on the horizon. It was credited to SWNS.com, on whose web site it’s impossible to find. But in trying I did come across this on Crysse’s blog

Also this by

and this by Chippy1920 on Flickr

Bath + kelston roundhill

Nice pics!

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Don’t point the Leveson bazooka at bloggers

Posted on Mar 22nd in Uncategorized

Leveson regulation has gone off the rails so, along with other ORG members, I’ve written to my local MP and to the three party leads on this (the PM, Harriet H and Nick Clegg):

Leveson sought to tackle the problem of overweening big news publishers acting in an unlawful and unethical way, especially when they bullied individuals.

But now you’re proposing regulations that capture websites and multiauthor blogs (such as Ive operated for years). This is daft. I’m not the Daily Mail or The Sun, and the blogs I read are insightful, orignal and of course subject to the law of the land (libel etc).

So for heavens sake point the Leveson bazooka where it was rightly intended, and leave us bloggers out of it.

This looks a classic case of legislate in haste, repent at leisure #DEAct etc Read the rest of this entry »

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The whole Bell thing has gone insane

Posted on Mar 11th in Uncategorized


Steve books the bands; Don is our local MP; Patrick is the pub manager

Recap: a lovely, hippy, Camra-friendly family-friendly free music free house pub in Bath is up for sale. The owner is open to a community bid. The existing management team has formed an IPS Co-op. It’s profitable and EIS friendly, so you get a tax rebate and the prospect of a good return on investments which can be from £500-20k.

This week has now seen some substantial endorsements for the buyout: the one and only Michael Eavis, Goldfrapp, The Stranglers, the Wurzles, Portishead. Today Robert Plant confirmed by email he would invest. And The Darkness. All these in the same range as the rest of us, and on the same basis: one shareholder one vote.

So if you fancy saying you co-own a lovely west country pub with anyone or everyone on that list there’s still time: sign up here. But hurry: the deadline is just over a week away and it’s first come first served! (this is not a solicitation, E&OE, read the entire prospectus before deciding etc)

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Solo bari piece for Blowoutsax gig

Posted on Mar 10th in Uncategorized

My sax teacher Mark got me to do a solo piece at the last Blowoutsax school gig in Bath Dec 2012. Here goes:

It’s written by a South African sax player Zim Ngqawana, born four weeks after me in 1959 but who died in 2011 of a stroke (which is sobering).

Zim’s recording is fizzing, alive and spontaneous; full of overtones and harmonics. I liked learning it because it’s strong, rootsy (but in an African way, not an R&B way for a change), unexpected, short and not too complicated.

The Blowoutsax gigs are great fun, held at Phil Andrews’ wonderful Chapel Arts Centre in Bath. It has all level of students from beginner to intermediate playing, plus the teachers. And Mark hires a fab backing band of seemingly inexhaustible patience.

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Positive thinking: the ladder of conscious love

Posted on Mar 3rd in Uncategorized

One of the pleasures of time in India is reading the wonderful, opinionated, diverse and rhetorical newspapers… Read the rest of this entry »

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Let’s buy The Bell!

Posted on Feb 25th in Uncategorized

The noble Lord Allan introduced me to The Bell pub in Walcot Street, Bath. Its a place you immediately feel at home, whether with family, in the courtyard, listening to fantasic free music, supping fine ales, snacking from the BBQ. It’s cosy, traditional, modern and hippy all at the same time. And now it’s for sale.

The Bell can’t become just another subsidiary interest in some formulaic, accountant-driven leisure business. It’s a place to pour your heart out, plan a revolution, share good times.

Now there’s a community buyout scheme. The proposal is backed by the existing management team, who turn a tidy profit on this city centre pub. You can invest £500-£20,000. It’s EIS-conformant, which means very tax-favourable.

Here’s a stack of videos of live bands playing The Bell

The Bell’s Facebook page

and here’s the community buyout web site

But the community has to raise at least £525,000 and ideally £925,000. And it has to do it fast: by 20 March, as it’s a competitive bid situation. So: don’t think about it too long: sign up, cough up, and become a co-owner of Bath’s coolest pub. See you there!

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New-style government IT, ID Assurance and Kable: a second open letter to Stephen Roberts

Posted on Nov 29th in Uncategorized

It’s not quite clear what the etiquette is for doing a “letter to the editor” to a firm of analysts if you disagree with what they write (even less so, perhaps, when it’s a firm you founded yourself and worked for for 18 years)…. Read the rest of this entry »

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