New directions

Local business, education and council leaders have been looking at ways to rebuild confidence in our area and reduce dependency on high-volume tourism – post-lockdown.

A new Economic Renewal Partnership- convened by the council and including tech, culture, manufacturing, services, tourism and education as well as the Bath BID-  has now met twice via Zoom.

With shops set to re-open on 15th June, the partnership is focusing on rebuilding confidence in our area as a safe, sustainable and green place to visit. Its first steps will include a survey of local businesses to better understand their needs and establishing “skills hubs” to re-skill people into new areas of opportunity such as the green economy.

The partnership has also highlighted opportunities to reduce our dependency on high volume tourism and better serve local residents, through reviving our High Streets and promoting our world-class tech, manufacturing and professional services businesses alongside our extraordinary creativity.

Council leader Councillor Dine Romero said: “The lockdown has hit local business very hard indeed. The council has also lost £17m in tourism income. Our first priority is to re-open our High Streets safely and sustainably and build on our area’s strengths as a safe, clean and green destination that people have confidence in.

“But this crisis has thrown into sharp relief the underlying challenges facing our area. We can’t go back to dependence on mass tourism. Our area has great strengths but we must take this opportunity to be more resilient and prepare for a greener future.”

Laurel Penrose, Principal & Chief Executive Officer of Bath College, said: “It’s crucial we have the right skills in place to help us all, but particularly young people, face these challenges. So I am delighted that our tech businesses, manufacturing firms, start-ups and universities as well as the college are all working together through this partnership.

“The ‘new normal’ presents many challenges but we need to ensure we are also skilled up for the opportunities it will bring, whether that is in providing IT support for home working or working in the low-carbon economy.”

Richard Godfrey, Founder and CEO of start-up tech incubator Rocketmakers said: “Bath and North East Somerset is well known for its heritage, but less known for its amazing entrepreneurial talent. We have some of the world’s best start-up support locally helping people turn ideas into products which go on and change the world. As we come out of COVID-19 it is vital that we harness that local talent and support people with great ideas to make them a reality. Working with this partnership and with other local incubators we are determined to help local business founders make their first products and support them to become the heartbeat of the local economy’s renewal.”

Next steps for the partnership also include gathering evidence about the future demand for business premises given the shift to working from home during the pandemic and finding ways to highlight and promote the area’s hidden talents.


  1. I believe a good start would be to reduce business rates as well as rents, where possible! Seems obvious to me that at least some income from businesses and shops would be better than none at all when they are empty.

  2. ‘We can’t go back to dependence on mass tourism …’ No, we can’t and, anyway, shouldn’t want to, given that it’s been wrecking the town for some years.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly that we cannot, indeed must not, return to relying on mass tourism. But what does that mean? Alongside creating alternative sources of employment we should aim to cap the number of visitors to a sustainable level and avoid the exodus of residents as experienced in Venice. Control over Airbnbs will be needed to ensure homes are available for local citizens. Bath is also a regional shopping centre whose future success will depend upon shoppers being able to easily access the city centre, including by motor car. This is controversial but reality is that free/cheap parking is offered by our competitors.

    David Stubbs


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