Bath gallery owner Jenny Pollitt took her local MP on a walkabout yesterday – in the company of other traders, residents and councillors – to try and enlist support for her campaign to put Walcot Street back on the commercial map as the city’s historic – and still very much alive – artisan quarter.
Jenny who runs the Lane House Gallery on Nelson Place East is at one end of what was a route into Roman Bath and one which provided the walled city with everything from shoes to pottery.
These days it’s still a street filled with independent traders who could do with a bit more help in sprucing up the area and encouraging more footfall.
Jenny also had the support of two local councillors – Peter Turner from Abbey Ward and Fiona Darey from Walcot.
Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones – who has the Heritage brief on B&NES – and fellow traders Eric Howard – a resident and member of the Walcot Street Residents’ & Traders’ Association ( a newly formed group), Lynda Whiting – who is a resident and member of the Walcot Street Residents’ & Traders’ Association – Adrian Dolan – a trader at Bath Aqua Glass and also a member of the Walcot Street Residents’ & Traders’ Association – and Tim Newark – a member of the Independent Shops of Bath Campaigning Group – also joined the group for a walk through Walcot Street.
I asked Jenny what she – and the other traders – wanted to show Bath’s MP Ben Howlett.
Jenny has been in touch since the walk and told the Virtual Museum:
“The walkabout produced some very positive and creative ideas about what can be done to improve the area for traders, residents, visitors and the local community.
We concentrated on quick, practical, easy to achieve tactical solutions whilst discussing longer term plans for development. Moving from the bottom of Milsom Street to the Podium immediately showed how footfall drops dramatically.
We all agreed that signs and visual aids are important and suggested the use of banners, posters, hoardings and strategic planting to draw attention away from any unsightly area and to encourage people to walk up the street.
Every few metres the group stopped to discuss a particular issue be it empty retail units, weeds, graffiti, dirty walls and pavements or parking charges.
We were advised to put together a Neighbourhood Plan and were all very encouraged by the commitment and enthusiasm of all involved and as Councillor Peter Turner said at the end of the walk “…now we have to deliver!”