Council ‘should be more proactive’ on Somerdale future

Bath and North East Somerset Council has been urged to do more to consult with residents in Keynsham on the future of the Somerdale Cadbury Factory in the town.

Conservative councillors representing the town have raised concerns that a planned consultation by the site’s owners, Kraft, has been delayed and are calling on the council to be more proactive in ensuring the future use of the site meets with the wishes of Keynsham residents.

B&NES Council had previously said it expected Kraft to announce its preferred bidder for the Somerdale site earlier in the autumn, with a public consultation on plans for the site to be launched early in the new year. However, the announcement by Kraft has been delayed and in answer to a question tabled by Conservative councillors at a recent public meeting, the council’s Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, Cllr Cherry Beath, said that she had held no talks with the company since August.

Councillors in Keynsham have said they are concerned about the lack of information being given to local residents about the future of the site by either Kraft or B&NES Council, and are calling on the council to work more closely with the company on a public consultation to determine the future use of the site. Conservatives have pointed to the work South Gloucestershire Council has done on consulting residents on the future of Filton Airfield as an example of what B&NES Council could be doing in Keynsham.

Cllr Alan Hale (Cons, Keynsham South) said:

“The continued uncertainty and lack of information surrounding the future of the Somerdale Cadbury Factory site is not good for Keynsham. This is an important site for our town and it’s vital that residents are fully engaged in its future. There has been a general consultation about the future use of the site during the council’s Core Strategy development process. However, as plans progress residents should be given a greater say on more detailed ideas for the site.”

Cllr Brian Simmons (Cons, Keynsham North) added:

“We’re concerned that the council seems to be letting this issue slip off the radar and so we’re urging the Lib Dem Cabinet to work more closely with Kraft to develop consultation plans and provide more information to the public. In contrast, if you look at what South Glos Council is doing on the future of Filton Airfield, it has undertaken extensive consultation with residents and appointed experts to review the site’s potential, even though it does not own it. B&NES could be more proactive do something similar here and.

“This could be turned into something positive for Keynsham, providing new employment and affordable housing in a landmark site, but only if the Council is driving the issue forward alongside Kraft.”