Jenny pictured outside her gallery a few years ago.
Jenny Pollitt is a former trader in Bath who ran her own independent art gallery in Nelson Place East – between the London Road and Walcot Street.
She’s sent out a copy of a letter she has sent to the Traffic Management Team at B&NES in response to plans to remove parking bays in Cleveland Terrace and Nelson Place East.
Here’s what she had to say.
“I was concerned to find out that you are planning to remove the parking bays in Cleveland Terrace and Nelson Place East on the grounds that they present a hazard to cyclists.
Whilst this attitude is commendable, it does not take into account the reality of how the independent businesses along that stretch of road will be affected.
As a past trader in Nelson Place East from 2013 – 2018 and close neighbour to the Cleveland Terrace businesses, I know how valuable it is for them to be able to park/deliver and load and unload goods and for customers to do the same. Many of the businesses there sell goods which are too big for a customer to take away without using a car or van and would certainly not be able to be transported by bicycle. Moreover, the limited time free parking encourages customers to pop in on their way into town or car.
Much as we all wish to reduce the amount of cars travelling into the city, I would urge you to consider how people actually live and work.
I live in a Wiltshire village and as there is no direct link into Bath – apart from one bus once a week, I usually drive into the city. It is easier and cheaper and when my children were at school in Bath, I would drop them at school, and then continue into work. With parking costs currently so high in Bath, lack of spaces and traffic congestion, jams and queues, I know many of my local friends simply no longer go into the city during the daytime.
This, coupled with the downturn in tourism due to COVID-19 surely is not good for any business and the city’s prosperity as a whole?
When I was running my own independent Art Gallery, I would drive in and try and find a free space for the day. I sold large paintings and ceramics and exhibitions changed on a regular basis. Without the bays outside my shop, it would have been very difficult and costly to run my business and so many of my sales came from people driving past the gallery and seeing paintings hanging in the window.
Very often potential customers would drive past or sit in traffic at the lights outside Nelson Place/Cleveland Terrace. If they looked over towards the shops and something caught their eye, and they saw an available parking bay, they would pull over and come into the gallery. So many of my sales took place that way. And I know that it was the same for the neighbouring antique, art and furniture businesses.
If there were no available parking spaces, customers would simply drive past and promise to come back. If we were lucky, they would return, but so often that depended on the availability to park. The passing trade and footfall is crucial to these businesses in Cleveland Terrace and surrounding areas.
Whilst you allow large vehicles to park on double yellow lines to load and unload which definitely poses a danger to cyclists, motorists and quite often to pedestrians, I cannot see how you will not allow business owners to carry out their usual trade and park outside their premises. This causes no harm to cyclists that I have ever noted or can forsee. Allowing deliveries to take place very early in the morning or after usual business hours as has been proposed in the past in other areas of the city discriminates yet again against small and independent businesses. This is not either practical or realistic.
Many of the businesses in Cleveland Terrace are operated by one person – they also have may have children of school age and therefore are juggling childcare responsibilities with trying to run a business. Deliveries outside usual trading hours (i.e. before 8am and after 6/7pm) only work for big businesses employing drivers and delivery companies. It is simply not feasible for the rest of us.
I urge you to consider my objections to this scheme. When I was in Bath recently, I was shocked by the amount of empty shops in the centre and how quiet the city was. I am in the process of moving to St Leonards, Hastings. St Leonards is thriving with independent businesses and shops opening on a weekly basis. Even though these businesses are within a few minutes’ walk of the sea front, it is very easy to find either free parking all day or two hour free parking right on the sea front.
This encourages trade and even in the centre of Hastings near the Contemporary Gallery, fishing huts, crazy golf and Pier attractions, it is still possible to find free parking or at least very reasonably priced public parking spaces.
This is not the case in Bath. We have to accept that without a decent park and ride to the East of Bath or full, affordable and regular bus services to and from outlying towns and villages or a bypass so that traffic congestion is reduced, people will simply stop coming into the city.
Removing any possibility to park outside the independent businesses of Cleveland Terrace and Nelson Place East would just contribute further to destroying these already fragile businesses and the vibrant atmosphere of this important gateway into Bath. Visitors to the city were always thrilled to discover the independent shops and businesses of Walcot Street, Nelson Place East, Cleveland Terrace and the London Road.
This is what they look for in Bath – they are not interested in seeing the same chain shops available in every town and city in the country.
If you want Bath to thrive, then you have to support independent businesses and understand how they work.”