Unlike the competitors and their coaches over a busy summer of sporting events who frequently avoided the awkward questions in interviews by saying that they thought only of their next race/match/innings/round of golf, BIAS Committee continues to focus on a more-distant future. In my last report I mentioned our SWOT exercise and this has now been followed up by a wide-ranging analysis and discussion of the way ahead at a meeting dedicated to this one agenda item. As is the way of such meetings, the range of opinion and ideas was impressively wide but we are now at the point where we can prepare an action plan which will guide us towards our 50th anniversary in 2017.
Your emails during this process have been much appreciated and it is clear many of you wish to see a wider participation of BIAS members in the end product – we will organise an event to achieve this. However, like the sportsmen and women mentioned above we also concentrate on the immediate needs of our society. We are currently drafting a briefing document to advise our speakers on the visual and acoustic facilities and challenges at the Legion and are planning to add, literally in this case, a little colour to our publications. The Avon Industrial Heritage Partnership has had its second meeting – at the Underfall Yard in Bristol – and is beginning to open up promising opportunities for networking and volunteering. Work on the Brunel Bridge continues apace with a second appearance in Bristol’s Doors Open Day which saw an impressive increase in visitor numbers over last year and BOB will also play a part in the Docks Heritage Weekend in early October with a couple of walks from the yard to the bridge. We continue to support South Gloucestershire Council’s extension of ‘Knowyourplace’ as the project gathers pace and have been invited to a meeting called by Councillor Anthony Negus (Bristol’s Heritage Champion) to explore ideas for a new heritage forum for the city. If I may end with an appeal, the electrification of the GWR line has emphasised the need for BIAS to beef up its responses to planning applications in the unitary authorities that constitute our territory. We already cover much that happens in Bristol through membership of this council’s Conservation Advisory Panel but urgently need volunteers to monitor applications (they are noted in the local papers and the documents can be viewed on the councils’ planning websites) and to advise on a BIAS response in B&NES, South Gloucestershire and N. Somerset Councils. Please contact me if you feel that you can help in some way.