Bath – a ghost city?

Proposals to throw a more physical security zone around the city centre is concerning – according to Bath Newseum regular Michael Noakes.

In an email he said: ‘Following the damage Covid has caused to city centre shops and business, I am very concerned that the council’s city centre security zone will be the final straw that turns Bath into a ghost city to which nobody (tourists included) wants to come.

I cannot help but feel that their response is disproportionate to the perceived risk of motorised terrorism. Most terrorist incidents in the UK were perpetrated by bombers with back packs who arrived by public transport or on foot.

Westminster bridge has barriers separating pedestrians from traffic; surely we could have kerbside bollards to complement those protecting pedestrianised areas like Abbey Church Yard where people congregate in large numbers in normal times.

I feel sorry for residents in the proposed zone and particularly for disabled people who will be seriously disadvantaged by loss of access and loss of on-street parking (eg single yellow lines) outside the zone’.

Michael is also not too happy with some aspects of the newly-introduced Clean Air Zone.

‘I am concerned that the CAZ may deter coach tours because coach firms have had such a torrid time through the lockdowns that, as expressed by a representative of coach firms on the TV news, many cannot afford to upgrade their coaches to meet the CAZ requirements and would be reluctant to pay the CAZ charges.

Bath relies heavily on tourism and there is this potential for the City to lose out!’


  1. I agree with Michael that it’s a nonsense to imagine that terrorism can be prevented with traffic barriers. However I don’t believe coaches should be coming into the centre anyway. Why not provide coach parking at the Park & Rides instead, as other cities do? York, for example, doesn’t permit coaches and minibuses with more than 16 seats within the city walls.

  2. Yes, I share Michael’s concern!

    Sincerely Mr. Rowcroft

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. I agree with Roger about coaches. I was once told that coach tours only bring about 25% of the tourist income to the city, despite being 75% of the visitors, whereas people who stay for 1 night or more – just 25% of visitors – bring 75% of tourism income to the locla economy. That’s why, during the pandemic, we at Akeman Press gave all the Bath councillors a copy of the revised On Foot in Bath – to show them all the lesser known aspects of Bath we could now be promoting to encourage people to stay, Perhaps we could form a forum of people like ourselves, who care about the city and who don’t want to see it overwhelmed with coaches, to explain to our Tourism chiefs what delights they could be promoting, instead of all the hotspots. Let’s make a new start and have a pleasanter city for tourists and residents.

  4. Why should the desire for coach operators to make more money justify the residents of Bath breathing dangerously polluted air? They can buy clean coaches or they can use the Park&Rides. The latter are the preferred stopping point for all vehicles visiting Bath – cars or coaches.

  5. Let’s face it, the combination of the CAZ and the security issue is just the key that is finally turning the pedestrianisation lock. We’ve been talking about getting traffic out of the centre of Bath for decades. But we have never properly managed it because of a fear amongst traders that people will stop coming into the city, and an aversion to change amongst suburban Bathonians and other BANES residents who think it’s an inalienable right to drive around the centre. But I for one am looking forward to a quieter, cleaner, and less polluted centre. And if the experience of cities which have got cars out of their centre years ago is anything to go by it will not just make Bath a nicer place but will actually increase footfall.

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