Some of you may know l write a monthly column for The Bath Magazine which – because of lockdown – has decided not to publish in paper form this month.
It would have put those who distribute the city’s premium lifestyle magazine at too much of a risk and there’s currently reduced footfall at the pick up points anyway.
The publication is continuing its online WEEKEND newsletter so do check out the website thebathmagazine.co.uk for more information about when the next ‘hard copy’ will appear.
Not wanting to waste my January column, l am publishing it here instead.
‘I know what you’re thinking. No need to bother reading the thoughts of Mr RW as 2021 opens up before us. He’s bound to be debating the energy wasted in making those annual new year resolutions – especially as most of us are lucky to see such ‘resolve’ lasting through to the end of this month!
Well, the only thing l am going to say on the subject is why do we continue to look forward to transforming our lives in a negative way. It’s always ‘l mustn’t do’ rather than ‘l must.’
What l mean is, rather than saying l’m going to stop doing something bad – that l consider harmful to my mental or physical wellbeing – see your actions instead as kick-starting a new you. Look for new horizons rather than sunsets in a hopefully soon-to-be post-Covid-world too.
Now l have your attention, l do have a list of to-do’s for 2021.
However, it’s not regarding my own hoped-for positive achievements but what l would like to see Bath and North East Somerset Council deliver for the city.
I have to admit – with their lack of finances – l should add the ‘rider’ IF they had a magic money-tree-making wand.
Some of my ideas are would benefit our community and some help the authority recoup lost tourist and business revenue caused by the Pandemic.
Let’s start with a compulsory purchase order on the old KES School in Broad Street. Turn it into an Archives and Local Studies Centre for our city record office and maybe a mini Museum of Bath.
Free up more space at the Guildhall to install ‘Experience Rooms’ to earn extra revue from weddings, christenings, special birthdays or even wakes. Let the hot-desking Hub next door spread into the vacated space and maybe let the Victoria Art Gallery have some too.
The Council’s got to find buyers for the Cattle Market lot – a commercial entity maybe prepared to let the Central Library have space so that John Lewis can take over The Podium completely.
Get that water turbine into the River Avon by the weir and wind turbines up on Lansdown and Charmy Down. Re-tile our crescents with solar sensitive tiles.
Do a deal to secure a longer term future for the Fashion Museum – currently with notice to quit the National Trust’s Assembly Room’s basement. Maybe they’d like to buy it?
Out on our crowded streets, let’s have those speed cameras back in action and a new one at the London Road junction with the old Gloucester Road. You’d make a fortune from the number of vehicles that jump the lights.
Meanwhile, those four-wheeled drive ‘Chelsea tractors’ that seem so popular in these parts – despite the fact the city streets and parking places can’t accommodate them – should be charged for coming into the Clean Air Zone.
Let’s see you start turning empty shops into residential accommodation. Put people-living back into our city centre but find ways of encouraging more diverse and unique independent shops to open up as well.
The big chain stores will not rule the High Street anymore, with so much of their trading staying on line. Or at least they will have a reduced presence where you can experience what is on offer and get it sent to you.
As l have said elsewhere the idea is to ‘up’ the social experience of inner-town living and play down the retail.
A clean-air city full of heritage and natural attractions and people – residents and visitors alike – enjoying cafes and restaurants and eating ‘al fresco’ in pedestrianised streets – whenever the weather allows.
I know we have excellent covered markets – both next to the Guildhall and at Green Park Station – but the city needs a new dedicated market area as a permanent attraction.
I know the council needs to recoup its losses – and can’t afford to give away retail space but – in its already stated intention to look for other revenue streams – it has to seriously think about the sort of city it wants to see in the future.
Would we ever see a Bath weekly lottery?
Maybe – as l end on a hoped-for positive note – 2021 could be the start of something big.’