ABOUT BACKWELL RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION
Formal Objects – BRA works to safeguard and promote the collective interests of Backwell residents in matters concerning social, economic and community life and the character of the village. The Association supports or opposes development affecting Backwell having regard to residents’ interests and the local environment.
The Village – Backwell is in planning terms a North Somerset service village surrounded by green belt. Walk in any direction for a short distance and you are in open country on agricultural land. Early Backwell comprised five farming hamlets and today still retains the character of this rural heritage. This is well expressed in the Neighbourhood Plan which BRA supports. Thus BRA tends to oppose any development that impinges upon Green Belt status although it understands that in certain circumstance such development may be desirable
History and Activities – BRA was formed originally in the 1960s as the Backwell Ratepayers Association when there was disquiet with the Parish Council. Subsequent elections and changes in standards dispelled this concern and BRA then continued often in support of the Parish Council to take a close interest in evolving planning issues and policies at all levels from national to local.
At national level we have campaigned directly via our MP or ministers and indirectly through such bodies as the Campaign for Rural England. We meet on occasion with our MP Dr Liam Fox. In July 2013 for example we consulted him on the ramifications of the Localism Bill for villages such as ours and have had a number of exchanges of correspondence about individual planning applications in the village.
BRA was among the few participants developing Regional Strategy firstly with Avon County Council and later with North Somerset. At district level BRA has participated in the development of Local Plans, the Core Strategy and the West of England Joint Spatial Strategy. BRA has also held Rule 6 status at Public Inquiries which means it was a statutory consultee.
At the village level BRA has worked for the retention of the Post office and late collections, is a member of the Stancombe Quarry Community Fund Committee and continues to contribute to Quarry Liaison and airport redevelopment. We expended considerable time and effort contributing towards compilation of the Neighbourhood Plan (implemented in 2015), particularly in relation to preserving Local Green Spaces. This later debate continues as North Somerset Council develops the detail of its Site and Policies Plan.
Along with the Parish Council, we have regular discussions with North Somerset Council and / or the Operators of the Recycling Centre regarding noise, traffic movements etc, and helped with noise reduction measures.
Resources – BRA is able to take advantage on a Pro Bono basis of its many professional members’ skills and experience in engineering, architecture, local history, statistics, planning, highways, mineral extraction, communications, education, environment and wildlife, administration, market research and local government. Where necessary we employ consultants to provide specialised independent expertise. It is in this area that membership subscriptions and donations are of particular importance.
Organisation – BRA is a democratic organisation with each adult in a member household having one vote at the AGM which is held in early in the New Year. The managing committee has sixteen members, all of whom give their time and are unpaid. They are elected for three year terms at the AGM or are co-opted. For efficiency a smaller executive committee comprising 4/5 members of the main committee deals with topical issues for resolution by the main committee. Committee members live in various parts of the village and are active in Backwell village life in many different capacities. This of course means they are in close contact with members’ concerns.
Membership – Membership is open to all supporting the Association’s objectives. The subscription is £10 per household. Now that we are aware of increased development interest in Backwell we are attempting to boost our membership of around 300 households (cf Backwell’s ~2000 households) and hence our financial resources to ensure that any proposed developments are proportionate, reasonable and sustainable.