I am happy to give space to a lady who works in the local tourist industry and is passionate in her belief that day visitors to Bath are increasingly being short-changed.
Monika Cavaciuti is a Blue Badge Guide and performs her duties here and around the South West.
She is also founder member of the Association of Foreign Language Speaking Guides and one of many specialist multi-lingual guides you will find on www.itoursinternational.com who cater for the coach loads of visitors from around the world that Bath’s fortunes partly rely on.
I am publishing – in full – what she has sent me. I only add a statement from B&NES regarding the recent traffic chaos at the Bog Island dropping off point.
Over to Monika:
“There are two key issues regarding the handling of coaches and tourists in this city: Drop off / Pick up points and Public Toilets. Like train and bus stations. There should be one for coach stations. In one central safe location and next to each other. It’s that simple.
A city the size and status of Bath as a world heritage city needs to have respect for the thousands of visitors coming each year, foreign or national, tourists or students contributing a considerable amount of revenue and income.
Since the majority arrives by coach there is an absolute necessity of adequate and safe drop off/ pick up facilities as well as sanitary outlets to cover the physical needs of these people at the point of arrival. It is obvious from any planning point of view, that these two need to be as closely located to each other as possible.
The imminent closure of Riverside Coach Park which provided BOTH these facilities is a total disregard for the needs of tourists altogether and a lack of consideration of safety and sanitary issues to our streets – traffic wise – and businesses.
Bog Island as drop off/pickup in addition to the drastically diminished available spaces at Riverside (since the partial development there) was at best ever only a temporary solution. Planners really need to go back and rethink the needs of the tourist industry and grant us the meeting we asked for and have been refused.
We need all departments concerned with these issues such as Traffic, Parking, Planning and Health Safety to come and discuss these problems and hopefully find some solution. I honestly believe that they are oblivious to the various aspects of tourism which are unable to be put into practice from theoretical strategies evolved in office meetings.
The last but really worrying plan which needs to be urgently discussed and stopped is the proposal of providing several small drop off /pick up places spread around the city.
Apart from the congestion issues that will definitely arise, I believe that the Council is totally underestimating the amount of foreign coaches arriving in Bath. Virtually all these vehicles are equipped with left hand drive. The aspect of discharging large groups of tourists of all ages, students and children – anything from 30 to 50 per coach – into the road is absolutely terrifying.”
I asked B&NES to respond to the chaos apparently created at times around Bog Island and this is the Council’s statement:
“While the marshall service is not a statutory requirement the council anticipates the stewards returning next spring in the run up to the peak season. The location is closed during the peak Christmas period as part of the Christmas Market event.
Terrace Walk is a public highway and motorists have a legal obligation to adhere to the Highway Code at all times for the protection of other road users and pedestrians.
The enforcement of the parking restrictions in Terrace Walk continues to be undertaken by the council’s Civil Enforcement Officers who visit the area regularly as part of a daily patrol.”