PM backing for West of England devolution

PM backing for West of England devolution

Prime Minister Theresa May has apparently given her backing to the multi-million pound West of England Devolution deal which will unlock funds in the region in exchange for B&NES, Bristol and South Gloucestershire coming together under an elected Mayor.


The news comes in a statement from Bath MP Ben Howlett’s office. It reads:

‘The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has confirmed to local MP Ben Howlett that she is giving her full backing to the West of England devolution agreement.

Ben said of the letter:

“I am delighted that the PM is supporting the devolution deal for the West of England.  I believe this is an excellent opportunity for Bath to secure vital infrastructure funding, particularly with regards to transport projects and presents an opportunity for significant new projects to be undertaken such as the A36/46 link road to help tackle Bath’s congestion.”

North Somerset District Council – which includes the regionally important Bristol International Airport – has opted out of the deal.



B&NES ‘showings’ for Battle of the Somme movie.

B&NES ‘showings’ for Battle of the Somme movie.

There will be special showings of the 1916 film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ this November to commemorate the WW1 centenary. 

Imperial War Museums (IWM) and Bath & North East Somerset Council are working together to show the UNESCO listed film to audiences across the area.  Shot and screened in 1916, it was the first feature length documentary about war and changed the way both cinema and film was perceived by the public. In the year of its release around 20 million people (almost half the population of Britain at the time) watched ‘The Battle of the Somme’, many hoping to see the image of a loved-one or friend captured on screen.  The film includes footage filmed during the months of the battle, with some re-constructed scenes. 


Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Con., Lansdown), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “The Battle of the Somme’ was shown to packed audiences in cinemas, and it’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to watch in 1916.  In Bath, it was shown at the Vaudeville Picture Theatre (opposite Komedia in Westgate Street) and the Picturedrome (long since demolished in Southgate St), with tickets priced at 1s (5p), 7d (3p) and 4d (2p).  One hundred years later, this unique film from IWM’s collection is being shown to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.”

Screenings in Bath, Keynsham, Midsomer Norton and Radstock will all feature a short introduction and free film-notes with more information about the film.  The film (originally silent) is accompanied by beautiful and haunting music composed by Laura Rossi.

See more WW1 Centenary events at

Screenings in your area: 

Advance booking strongly recommended.


Sunday 13 November 14.30 at Victoria Hall

Tickets from Victoria Hall – £3


Monday 14 November 18.15 at The Little Theatre Cinema

Tickets from Little Theatre Cinema – £5

Midsomer Norton    

Friday 18 November 18.30 at the Town Hall

Tickets from Midsomer Norton Community Trust – £3


Thursday 24 November 19.45 at The Space

Tickets from Keynsham Filmworks – £3 

The Battle of the Somme is certified PG – 81 minutes

Tickets can be reserved from the individual venues


Jekyll and Hyde city?

Jekyll and Hyde city?

Just seen – and enjoyed – ‘Jet Set Go’ at Bath’s Mission Theatre – brilliantly presented by Not Another Theatre Company – but what is it about Southgate Street at night?

Both going to and coming away from this little theatrical-gem-of-a-hardworking-show we were confronted with brawling groups of youths – fuelled by hand-held bottles of vodka and who knows what else.


Is the shopping centre a no-go zone at night? Isn’t it private property? Shouldn’t there be security people. Didn’t Bath once have a police force??

In fact one concerned visitor actually asked me where the police station was – we had to tell him there wasn’t one.

These scenes of extreme violence must be recorded on all those CCTV cameras that spy on us all.

Maybe the authorities should be invited to sit and watch some of the nighttime playback. Shame on you heritage city.

Seems we’re a Jekyll and Hyde sort of town and parts of it are quite scary after dark!


By the way – Jet Set Go continues through to Saturday with a matinee at 2.30.

New Bath roots for suffragettes.

New Bath roots for suffragettes.

My friend Audrey Wood is a fellow member of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides and has enjoyed showing people around this city for more than forty years.

She also does regular voluntary work on duty at Bath Abbey, No 1 Royal Crescent and the Victoria Art Gallery – welcoming visitors and answering their questions.


Audrey Woods on duty as a Mayor’s Guide in Abbey Church Yard.

You’d think she had little time for doing much more than putting her feet up with a well-earned cup of tea but no – something else has made her restless – and this concerns some rather special visitors from the past.

Of course Bath is about people as well as Georgian buildings and Roman remains. As a Mayor’s Guide the tours Audrey helps give will often involve pointing out some of the many bronze plaques above doorways which indicate where some of the big names of history may have lived or visited.

Now she’s determined to get proper recognition for a whole group of  early 20th century visitors who helped make history –  by standing up and fighting for their rights.

We’re talking about the Suffragette Movement which campaigned for votes for women in the years leading up to the First World War.

Bath was not a major centre of protest and had little of the activist displays seen in London and other cities but it did play its part in helping some of the women involved in this fight for equal voting rights

The Blathwayt family who lived at Eagle House in Batheaston offered their home to suffragettes who wanted to recuperate from the harsh treatment they received when imprisoned for their political activism in support of votes for women. Many of them were force-fed when on hunger strike to protest against their conditions.


Suffragettes Laura Ainsworth & Charlotte Marsh planting a tree at Eagle House in 1911 © Bath in Time

At Eagle House the suffragettes were encouraged to plant a tree in the grounds. There were 60 planted and they flourished in the care of Mrs Blathwayt who also underplanted them with flowers and shrubs in the colours of the Suffragette Movement.

These colours are purple for dignity, white for purity and green for hope. It is – apparently – a myth that green meant GIVE , white WOMEN and violet VOTES.

This historic arboretum made way for a housing estate in 1960 – although one towering Austrian Pine does remain.

Former B&NES Councillor and Heritage Champion Bryan Chalker – having found out about the story – arranged (with others) to have three new trees planted to commemorate the suffragettes at Eagle House.

They were planted in Alice Park, Royal Victoria Park and Bath Spa University in March 2011.

Audrey Woods

Audrey Woods beside the young pine tree in Royal Victoria Park. This was taken a couple of years ago.

However Audrey has been anxious to ensure the trees continue to prosper and that there are notices nearby to tell people why they were planted.

She had no idea if the tree at Bath Spa was still alive, was unhappy about the condition and location of the tree in Victoria Park and was worried about wire encasing the fir in Alice Park.

Now the University has sent her some good news. The tree there is alive and well and they sent a picture to prove it.


The Suffragette cedar (L) at Newton Park


The Suffragette tree in Alice Park.

Meanwhile, the tree in Victoria Park is going to be replaced and re-positioned just inside the entrance to the Botanical Gardens where it will replace a fallen champion tree.

Meanwhile, the wire has already been taken off the tree in Alice Park.


The plaque prior to polishing.

Audrey’s last task is to find someone who would be able to give the brass plaque in front of the Alice Park tree a regular polish so people can read the inscription.


A first attempt!

Here are ‘before and after’ shots – showing my meagre efforts. If anyone who is a regular visitor to the park can help – Audrey would love to hear from you.

A fairer share of Bath buses?

A fairer share of Bath buses?

Getting around inner city Bath has not been easy of late with traffic greatly affected by the resurfacing work in North Road.

This vital arterial route reopens early on Friday morning – October 28th – and one hopes things might ease.

However, there is no way we can kid ourselves that this town can cope for much longer with the volume of commercial and private traffic it is being asked to accommodate.


Bus after bus caught in today’s jams.

While millions are soon to be wasted on another park and ride  – which will take a few cars  off the London Road –  it doesn’t deal with the biggest need.


Wouldn’t take many of these to bring our city to a standstill.

Historic Bath is crying out for a relief road – a proper by-pass – and some effective traffic management.


Coaches and buses caught up on North Parade.

I couldn’t believe how many huge buses were caught up in today’s jams.

It was a regular convoy of one passenger-carrying vehicle after another. Many of them part of the subsidised service which ships students in and out of the city. Both of our universities have been built out of town.


More jams in West Street.

And while our under graduates get a regular flow of transport to and from academia – the residents of Larkhall district fight to retain their more modest connection with town.


There is a public meeting tonight – October 26th – at St Saviours Infant School – attended by  James Freeman who is Managing Director of First Bus, and  Cllr Anthony Clark who is B&NES Cabinet member for  transport.


North Parade is back in business

North Parade is back in business

North Parade in Bath has reopened.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s contractor has worked seven days a week in order to complete this work two days ahead of schedule.

north parade bridge

North Parade

Final surfacing of the road will take place on Wednesday night / early Thursday morning, which will mean a full closure, with no road access to premises off North Parade. The Council is contacting those affected, including the Leisure Centre and Cricket Club.

Councillor Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “The carriageway and drainage on North Parade, which had reached the end of their life, have now been completely reconstructed – this is an important piece of work to futureproof this part of the city.

I’d like to thank the team that has worked so hard to complete this ahead of schedule, allowing the road to be fully open before the weekend. I’d also like to thank residents and all road users for their patience and understanding during these essential roadworks.”


The Council split the work into several phases to maintain access to destinations on North Parade Road, including the Leisure Centre, while the road was closed. The Council also put in place additional traffic management during the works to ensure the smooth running of a number of major events, including Bath Rugby games and a Level 42 concert at the Pavilion.

Happy 50th for Bath Uni

Happy 50th for Bath Uni

A Golden Anniversary service at Bath Abbey, a campus-based Party on the Parade and a rugby match at ‘The Rec’ are just three of the ways the University of Bath will be celebrating its 50th anniversary today – Tuesday, October 25th.

As part of a special year long programme of  anniversary events – since receiving its Royal Charter in 1966 – today’s celebrations begin in the historic Bath Abbey where staff, students, alumni and invited guests will enjoy a range of performances, music and dance.

Following this, the festivities then make their way onto campus with a Party on the Parade featuring entertainment for staff and students including band performances, dancing and a zip wire.

The University’s Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, The Prince Edward is attending both the Abbey and campus events and will also be cutting a 50th birthday cake to mark the celebrations.

Prince Edward

HRH  Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and Chancellor of Bath University

The festivities finish at Bath Rugby’s iconic ground, The Rec, where the University’s men’s 1st XV rugby union team will aim to continue their impressive unbeaten run in the new BUCS Super Rugby league when they host Leeds Beckett. The match kicks off at 6.30pm, is free to attend and is open to everyone. 

Over the past 50 years, the University has developed an excellent international reputation for conducting world-class research and providing students with exceptional learning and teaching.

It is exactly 50 years since the University of Bath was granted university status in 1966 by Royal Charter, signed by Her Majesty the Queen. Its first Chancellor, Baron Hinton, was installed shortly after during a ceremony in the Bath Assembly Rooms in which a ceremonial mace was presented to the University as a gift from the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. 

For half a century the University and its students and staff have played an integral part in the city of Bath. As the city’s second largest employer the University directly employs over 3,100 people whilst its student’s annually spend over 10,000 hours volunteering with local charities and organisations. Last year, the University’s students raised more than £65,000 for local, national and international charities, adding to a total of almost £400,000 in the past five years.

[The archive footage below shows the presentation of the University Mace during the Granting of the Royal Charter Ceremony in 1966]

Identified as the number one university in Europe in the QS ‘Top 50 Under 50’ 2015/16 rankings, and first in the UK for student satisfaction in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2015, Bath continues to be ranked highly in all national league tables.

Nearly 90 per cent of Bath’s research in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) was defined as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. The quality of its research has won The Queen’s Anniversary Prize, twice. 

Today, Bath students continue to be amongst the most satisfied in the UK with a 90 per cent overall satisfaction rating according to the National Student Survey (NSS). The University is also one of the best in the UK for graduate prospects having been ranked seventh nationally by the 2017 Times Good University Guide and best in the South West.

Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, commented: “I am delighted that the University is celebrating this momentous milestone as a vibrant and successful community. Since receiving our Royal Charter, Bath has maintained its position as a University conducting high quality research and providing excellent teaching and we look forward to continuing this for the next 50 years.


Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Vice Chancellor and President, University of Bath.

“The University’s success is intrinsically linked to the city of Bath. The beautiful location in a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Bath’s excellent infrastructure enable us to attract the best and brightest minds and, in turn, we make a significant contribution to the local economy and community.

Our 50th anniversary programme of events provides us with an opportunity to celebrate our considerable achievements but also say ‘thank you’ to our friends and neighbours in and around the city.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our staff and students whose dedication is an inspiration. It is this real sense of community and collaboration at our university, combined with our natural curiosity and ambition which has led to our success so far and will play a significant role as we look to the future.”