About the organisation
Bath & North East Somerset Council is a thriving and progressive unitary authority set in the heart of the West of England. The Council, which has 59 members elected in May 2019, serves a population of 188,678. Our residents live and work in a diverse and attractive mix of communities, extending from the outskirts of Bristol, south into the Mendips and east to the Southern Cotswolds and Wiltshire border, as below.
We currently employ 2,162 staff, led by the Chief Executive and 2 Corporate Directors, who collectively are responsible for the Council’s 11 Director Portfolios, as set out below:
We have truly dedicated people here in Bath & North East Somerset, whether our directly-employed staff (our waste and recycling services is in-house), our partners (our Adult Social Care is managed on a commissioned through Virgincare) or the many volunteers working in our community, such as in our community libraries. We maintain 17 parks, 60 play areas and 55 open spaces, and our highways teams ensure that 19,800 miles of roads are salted and 5,000 potholes repaired annually. We are proud of our peoples’ successes whether it is our Children & Young People’s Services being recognised as good (with elements of outstanding) by Ofsted), the Approved Mental Health Practitioner team winning silver at the National Social Work Awards or winning Street Cleansing Apprentice of the Year in the APSE Innovation Awards. We employ 73 apprentices; in a mix of new roles and upskilling apprenticeships for existing staff including professional qualifications, Project Management, and an MBA programme with Bath Spa University.
We have offices in Bath (at the Guildhall and Lewis House), at the modern and distinctive Civic Centre in Keynsham and at the Hollies in Midsomer Norton. These, along with our operational buildings such as libraries, depots and other facilities, ensure that our staff are really part of our local communities. To further embed this we support and encourage our staff to take part in our “community challenge” volunteering initiative - last year over 100 got involved. Our annual joint employee and volunteer awards celebrate the fantastic people who have made a difference across our area. We positively promote flexible working across all of our sites
This structure was adopted in May 2018, as part of a wider organisational redesign which aimed to redefine the role of the Council as partner and enabler in addressing the key challenges facing the area. With projections suggesting that from now until 2037, the over 65s age group will increase by 50% and those over 85 by 124%, we further embedded our longstanding integration with local health services. The council has built innovative joint commissioning relationships with the CCG to address these challenges and to tackle health inequalities, but there is more to be done. In 2019/20, for every £1 of Council Tax being spent by the Council, 83.5p is spent on Adult Social Care and Children’s services, as can be seen below:
The challenge of managing growth, with targets for delivering 13,000 new homes, including 3,290 affordable homes, from 2011 to 2029, also requires us to further develop our partnership working, particularly with the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). The Council works closely with WECA to attract investment in homes, infrastructure and transport.
The Council has in place a Corporate Strategy to 2020, which has delivered significant changes including the creation of a new housing company, our Enterprise Area, new community libraries and additional sources of income. Our 2019/20 Organisational Plan focuses on 3 refreshed priorities to guide us over the next 12 months, and Council also agreed in November 2018 Thriving in Uncertain Times, which identifies our key “asks” of central government including the option to introduce a tourism tax and ideas to address the shortfall in council tax revenues resulting from our growing Higher Education sector and student population.
In preparation for the new administration to be formed following the May 2019 elections, the Council is developing a new Strategic Framework which reflects the key challenges- and opportunities- now facing us. These include:
- The continued financial challenges, as set out in our Medium term Financial Strategy. This, alongside our Budget, identifies the need to further develop and refine a “Core Offer” of services we can realistically deliver within foreseeable resources. This approach will also require us to work more closely with local people to further embed community engagement and joint working through building on relationships such as our Connecting Communities Forums.
- Addressing the climate emergency. Council agreed in March to declare a climate emergency in B&NES and for Bath & north East Somerset to become carbon neutral by 2030. The Council is working closely with local groups and communities to achieve this goal through initiatives such as our Plastics Pledge but the scope of our ambition is ambitious and challenging.
- Improving the way we work: council and customers have already benefited from innovations such as our use of Fixmystreet, but there is a need to go further by making savings through redesigning services and simplifying customer transactions
Living and working in Bath & North East Somerset
Living in Bath and North East Somerset is all about choice, community and quality of life, offering as it does some of the country's finest architecture, best preserved villages and magnificent countryside. Two thirds of the area’s rich, diverse and unique landscape is green belt with two areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 37 Conservation Areas and some of the most significant historical architectural treasures found anywhere in Europe, with 6,408 Listed Buildings.
The World Heritage City of Bath is the main urban centre. Home to the Council’s Guildhall, it is a world-class commercial, cultural, artistic and leisure hub which is home to just over half of our residents. It is an international tourist destination - one of the few cities in the world to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our other main urban centres are are:
- Keynsham - a traditional market town which is home to our award-winning civic centre building. The area has seen recent growth, with more planned, but retains its distinctive character and setting
- Midsomer Norton and Radstock are also market towns, hubs what is locally referred to as the Somer Valley. Communities in this area have a distinctive heritage drawn from the heritage of the North Somerset Coalfield These areas have also seen significant growth and regeneration in recent years and, as with all our area, combine access to both local amenities and attractive countryside
Completing the picture are 69 diverse rural communities of varying sizes and characteristics, 39 of which are in Conservation Areas, including a line of villages along the foothills of the Mendips, the Chew Valley in the west and Cotswold villages around Bath. The fantastic Bristol to Bath cycle path winds its way through our villages and countryside providing plenty of opportunities for leisure activities.
However, our area is not just about heritage and countryside. We have a thriving and growing small business sector, with a particular emphasis on micro enterprises, as seen in the Guild “hub”. Located in the basement of our own Guildhall, this provides a great place for start-up businesses. We also have two high-quality and growing Universities which, with the estimated 18,000 students living in our area, add vibrancy, innovation and world-class research specialisms to our area. Access to both high quality education- a large majority of pupils are taught in ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rated schools and early years settings- and to excellent sports facilities (including newly-refurbished leisure centres in Bath and Keynsham) complete the quality of life package.