Splashing out on Bath heritage.

Bath’s thermal waters are a natural resource that has been exploited down through the centuries – ever since the invading Romans established a bathing complex around the hot springs.

What they built – and its re-discovery – is one of the main reasons Bath has such a buoyant tourist economy. Yes – l am aware that Georgian architecture and Jane Austen also play major roles.

roman bath
The Great Bath – filled with natural spa water.

A meeting of the B&NES  Council Cabinet on Wednesday, February 10th, will be presented with a report explaining just how financially worthwhile an attraction they are in a revised Business Plan for the Authority’s Heritage Services through to 2021.

The aim is to invest money to increase profits. According to the plan:

‘Annual profit will increase by £1.6 Million (32%) over the next five financial years, so that by 2020/21 annual profit will be £6.65 Million.

Profit will increase by £600k in the financial year 2016/17, and by a further £250k p.a. in each of the subsequent financial years.’

According to the report:

‘Heritage Services generates external income for the Authority of over £15 million p.a. This is planned to increase to £19 Million p.a. by 2020. This income is a strategic resource for the Authority, and represents a direct contribution to its finances from the local tourism economy.

roman baths
The Great Roman Bath

There are also indirect contributions via parking fees and the impact on rental values of Commercial Estate shops. The economic impact survey undertaken by the University of Bath in 2012 indicated that the Roman Baths levers £107 Million per annum into the local economy.

This Authority is unique in the country in operating its museums service at a net surplus (“profit”). The net surplus earned for the Council by Heritage Services since the inception of Bath and North East Somerset Council has totalled c.£67 Million.

In financial year 2016/17 the target profit of £5.6 Million represents a reduction in each Council Tax bill in the district of c.£71. For example, the average Band D Council Tax bill would be £89 higher without this contribution to the Council’s finances.’

archway centre
The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.

Money is going to be spent on the new Archway Centre – supported hopefully by a Heritage Lottery grant -to provide decent educational facilities and a World Heritage Centre.

There’s money to be spent on air conditioning in the Victoria Art Gallery and a gradual but major refurbishment of the entire Roman Baths site – including its retail outlets.

Expect further increases in admission charges over the years too. No talk of any alteration regarding the terms of residents’ Discovery Cards but l would imagine everything is jup for discussion.

Maybe it’s time to be talking about a Tourist Tax again. Thoughts please.