National Organisation of Residents Associations




Chairman: Helen Wilde

Secretary: Graham Rogers

Treasurer: Carew Reynell

Contact: Roger Mortimer

website: www.rcas.org.uk


Redland & Cotham Amenities Society in Bristol was founded in 1973, and with around 800 subscribing households we estimate our total membership to be well over 1200. It is Registered Charity No. 268848 and is affiliated to the Civic Trust.

Our general aim is to preserve and enhance the character of our area, its architecture, trees and amenities, for the benefit of present and future residents.

Our principal activities are:
• Monitoring and commenting on Planning Applications and local planning policy, and on Liquor Licensing applications and policy.
• Planting of Trees in streets and parks. Monitoring tree works applications.
• Campaigning over Transport Issues and monitoring street services
• Sponsoring initiatives and fundraising to improve our parks and play areas. Monitoring park maintenance.
• Organising the May Fair on Redland Green and the Open Gardens Sunday
• Publishing a quarterly Newsletter, distributed to members.
• Publishing local history Guides, and Greetings Cards with a Redland & Cotham theme, the work of local artists.
• Organising lectures, discussions and Observation Walks to encourage appreciation of Redland and Cotham.
• Organising annual Gold Star awards for developments that enhance the appearance of the Conservation Area.

The above indicates the broad aims and constructive approach of RCAS in many of the areas that affect our lives.

Of particular interest to NORA members and correspondents will be our ongoing work on Licensing Reform. Some of our many contributions on this subject are included in our comprehensive web site www.rcas.org.uk . Do please refer to this.

For more information please contact Roger Mortimer - by email.

In common with many Societies we find it difficult to persuade members to take an interest in issues such as licensing until they are hit in the face, or ears, by an application on their doorstep. This attitude is a particular problem for us as our Society area is large and many members live in parts that are relatively remote from centres of night life. The City Centre proper, that contains the biggest concentration of licensed premises including almost all night clubs, is over a mile away so we have so far been spared the worst consequences suffered by some town and city residents. In addition, we have a large percentage of students and other short term residents in our area - up to 50% in one Ward, who have none of the concerns of long term residents.

We do have a concentration of licensed premises in Whiteladies Road, a mixed shopping and commercial street, which now includes a section nicknamed The Strip. We also have several large corner pubs in residential streets. We must be typical of many predominantly residential city suburbs and are happy to share our experience and thoughts about the future with others.

We have with other Societies fought planning and licensing battles to resist further damage from more and later opening, with considerable success. The prospect of this effort being undermined by the new licensing laws is acutely depressing to our Committee. The limited protection offered by the planning system, even before the expected ‘modernising’ of Use Class Orders, is explained in the attached paper. We have tried hard to warn members of the likely consequences.

Extracts from our last two Newsletters are reproduced here, together with a spoof - well, not that spoof ! - advertisement for what we could easily have in our midst by Christmas. It is the likelihood of premises that at present close at 11pm being open until 1 or 2 in the morning that will particularly damage residents lives. This would be made worse if it is combined with changes of operation, eg more music and dancing. We are continuing our efforts to achieve a sensible Local Licensing Policy - our first thoughts are elsewhere on the NORA site. We are also talking to the Police as it is clear that they will have an even more important role than at present and some strong powers, if they are minded to use them. It is reasonable to ask Police to explain their interpretation of the Bill.

We would like to know how if and how Societies are planning to fight Premises Licence applications when they start arriving - perhaps by September? For our part we do not have the resources to organise, prepare and mount proper Objections for presentation at the new Licensing Committees. We can advise and help but the residents affected will have to be in the front line.

If anyone asks what they can do now we suggest the following:

a. Record the conditions that prevail in their area at present with present operating hours. The summer is the ideal time to do this.

b. Establish if possible that this is already a pattern of ‘public nuisance’, the ‘public’ including residents in their own home. The idea is to be able to say that the situation is already unacceptable or, if not, that it will be so if replicated at later hours and/or increased in volume and damaging characteristics. As we see it residents should record by diary, photographs, video or noise recording any nuisance suffered whether it is criminal, eg damage, threatening behaviour, vandalism, littering etc, or environmental, eg, noise pollution. If this is attributable to particular premises or their customers this is very useful. However the general problems caused by number and volume of customers in the area is also important.

c. Complain, in reasonable terms to the Police, Local Council, Environmental Health Officer about any significant problem. Report all incidents, even if not expecting any outcome, as they happen to the above. Copy to local Councillor(s).