Government to consider Bath link road.

Government to consider Bath link road.

Bath’s MP, Ben Howlett has had a response from the government to the petition – signed by more than 3,000 residents –  requesting aid in constructing an A36-46 link road to improve transportation, reduce congestion and provide economic benefit to Bath.

London Road

London Road

Transport Minister, John Hayes, gave the following response to the petition:

“I greatly appreciate Mr Howlett’s efforts in campaigning on this matter and welcome him bringing this important issue to the Government’s attention.

I recognise the importance of an efficient road network in supporting economic growth across the country, and the environmental benefits of moving long-distance traffic away from built-up areas.

For these reasons, the Department takes a long-term approach to guaranteeing substantial funding for strategic roads, such as the A36 and A46, through five-year Road Investment Strategies (RISs).

“I have been made aware of concerns about congestion around the east side of Bath, where north/south traffic travelling between the A46 and A36 has to enter the city and use the Cleveland Bridge across the Avon.

I am also mindful of the economic, environmental and health benefits that an improved road network in the area might bring, along with the challenges of building adjacent to this unique urban and natural environment.

Bath and North East Somerset Council and Highways England are considering a wide range of options, including construction of a link road, to alleviate the current problems. The findings from this work, along with other evidence I receive, will inform my decisions about further investment in the strategic road network in the area.”

Ben Howlett MP

Ben Howlett, MP for Bath.

Commenting on the response Ben Howlett said:

“Residents will know I have long been campaigning for the construction of the A36-46 link road. This is long overdue. We need to do as much as possible to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in our beautiful city. 

I am also keen at this time of uncertainty to do what I can to improve Bath’s infrastructure to maximise the city’s economic attractiveness.  At this time two major trunk roads converge in the city centre, which has created problems for decades and I will work tirelessly to alleviate them.

“I am delighted the Government alongside Bath and North East Somerset council and Highways England are considering a link road as an option and will continue to make representations and keep up the pressure to ensure this happens”


Another record-breaking year for Baths

Another record-breaking year for Baths

The Roman Baths & Pump Room building recorded another record breaking year in 2016, making it one of the most visited attractions in the UK, outside of London.

roman baths

The Great Bath – part of the Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

Visitor numbers increased by 40,000 to 1,216,938 in 2016 compared with 1,176,527 in 2015.

It means The Roman Baths & Pump Room was the second most popular tourist attraction in the South West last year, after Stonehenge.

The Roman Baths & Pump Room also retained its position as the 26th most-visited attraction in in the UK, according to figures just released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).   Their list was topped by the British Museum, with attractions in the capital scooping the top ten places. 

Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones, (Conservative, Lansdown) Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This is the third year running the Roman Baths & Pump Room has enjoyed a record-breaking year. Staff constantly strive to improve the visitor experience, and recent developments have included new costumed characters beside the Great Bath, the introduction of audioguides in four new languages, and new facilities for disabled visitors. 

“There are more improvements to look forward to this year, including the redisplay of the East Baths to include the latest modern interpretation, which will be ready in time for Easter. Also, in response to increased visitor numbers, the Roman Baths will be extending its summer evening opening, which will begin on 17 June and run until the end of August, giving visitors a chance to explore the historic site by torchlight until 10pm.”

The increase in visitor numbers was driven mainly by domestic tourism, which was supported by Roman Baths marketing in London and South West England.  2016 was also a record breaking year for the number of Mandarin-speaking visitors to the Roman Baths, with more than 100,000 passing through the doors.

In the latter part of the year, following the US Presidential election, there was a noticeable increase in visitors from North America.

Overall, the value of the pound did not increase overseas visits to the Roman Baths & Pump Room in 2016, but the number of inbound visitors is expected to go up in 2017.


Oldfield ‘pitch’ a winner?

Oldfield ‘pitch’ a winner?

Fourteen budding young entrepreneurs from Oldfield School, Bath, faced their very own ‘Dragons’ Den’ when they presented their business plans to members of the Rotary Club of Bath in a bid to win a “Top Business of the Year” award.

The young people, in four teams, had all reached the final of ‘The Big Pitch’, a Rotary Club project aimed at introducing pupils aged 13 and 14 to the challenges and enjoyment of running their own business. 

The finalists were chosen after an initial Enterprise Challenge Day in the school last October, involving 230 pupils, before the Big Pitch competition, in which 65 pupils in 14 teams took part.


The Big Pitch finalists.

All  the finalists created a successful mini-enterprise making and selling actual goods to friends, family, and the general public.   Products produced by the mini-Lord Sugars and James Dysons included cup-cakes, magic tricks, and self-contained jars of recipe ingredients.  The young people set up stalls and sold their products at various locations between November and February, including their school Christmas Fair and Green Park market in the City centre.

The Oldfied School teams gave presentations to an audience of 40 Rotary Club members, who voted for the winning team based on the success and sustainability of the business, and the quality of the presentation. Eventual winners were the  “Nifty Gifts” team, who created jars containing recipes and all the ingredients required to make a delicious meal.

Big Pitch organiser Richard Bush, of the Rotary Club, said he and colleagues had been very impressed by the creativity, energy and stamina of all the pupils who formed their own companies:

“Creating a business is not easy, and it’s even harder to keep it going.  The young people really embraced the challenge with verve and style, learning things like stock control, marketing, budgeting and the importance of teamwork.

 “They’ve told us the experience has shown that running a business can be fun, as well as an exciting challenge, and more now feel motivated to consider Business Studies for their GCSEs.” 

Oldfield School Head, Steven Mackay, said the involvement of members of the Rotary Club had made the whole project much more realistic for the young people:

“We’re very grateful to the team from the Rotary Club of Bath, who have put a huge number of hours over many weeks to support the students as they ran their businesses.  

“Having the chance to chat with people with experience of actually working in and running a business has been hugely motivating, and taught the teams new skills which will help them in the future, whatever they end up doing.”


Walcot Street mural goes missing.

Walcot Street mural goes missing.

Someone has made off with the Walcot Street mural.


All that is left is the frame and a scrap of canvas.

Originally painted by ‘Stanley Donwood’ – the pen name of English artist and writer Dan Rickwood and the man famous for many a Radiohead album cover – his woodland scene was oversprayed by Frome-based street artist Paris.

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The original mural by Dan Rickwood.

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Paris at work on his mural.

He – in his own right – is Coldplay’s ‘artist in residence’ and travels around the world with the band.

Paris has been in touch to say:

‘It made me smile to see the painting had been stolen in its entirety…..,   I guess in a way its a back-handed compliment….

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Funnily enough the last time a painting of mine was stolen it was from a nightclub in Bath in 1997!

I’ve no idea how theyll sell it though…It’ll never be authenticated by me!

Very happy to paint a replacement though.’


Jenny Pollitt of Lane House Arts.

We’ll have to see if Walcot traders decide to stump up the cash for a replacement but one local business person – Jenny Pollitt of Lane House Arts – went on Facebook to say she was ‘ sad and angry about the act  of vandalism/theft’ and that for the Walcot district it was the loss of a ‘community asset.’


Council aims to keep people moving during rail station closure.

Council aims to keep people moving during rail station closure.


Bath & North East Somerset Council says it’s determined to keep people moving during the forthcoming improvement works at Bath Spa railway station.

bath spa station

From 8th to 24th April, Network Rail will be carrying out work to modernise Bath Spa station so that new, longer trains can be accommodated. The work will include making the platforms wider and will also reduce the stepping distance to and from trains.

During this time there will be periods when buses replace trains to and from the station. To help these replacement buses keep to time and maintain rail connections, a city-bound bus lane will be temporarily installed on the A4 London Road between the A46 roundabout and its junction with Lambridge Street. This work is being funded by Great Western Railway (GWR).


Leaflets available with details of the closure.

As the work is taking place during the school Easter holiday, it’s anticipated that the volume of traffic in the city of Bath will remain the same as a normal busy day. Bath & North East Somerset Council will also put in place a series of measures to help traffic flow:

Advance message signs:

•         Advanced messaging warning drivers of potential disruption will be displayed on Bath & North East Somerset Council’s roadside Vehicle Management Systems

Traffic management:

•         Non-emergency roadworks will be embargoed along roads in Bath and North East Somerset that are to be used for the rail replacement bus services, including the A4. This will also be              the case on a number of surrounding roads that have been identified as alternate routes in the event of an emergency on the designated route.

•         Liaising with coach operators regarding the works

•         Monitoring traffic flows through Cleveland Place, Dorchester Street and the Gloucester Road junction

•         Avon & Somerset Constabulary Road Policing Unit has been asked to enforce the box junctions at Hicks Gate, particularly during peak times.

•         There will be strict parking and bus lane enforcement along the A4.

•         A CCTV link will be provided to Bath Spa station to help monitor traffic flows

•         Monitoring traffic flows through Saltford

•         Creation of a temporary inbound bus lane on London Road West

Engaging the community:

•         Drop in sessions have been held in Bath, Oldfield Park and Keynsham

•         Information has been given to passengers at Bath Spa and other effected stations, in face to face engagement sessions on platforms

•         Letters have been sent to local residents and businesses, supported by door-to-door visits

•         Information is on display on trains and in stations, and also during the online ticket booking process

Cllr Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said:  “We are working closely with Network Rail and GWR to try to minimise disruption to travellers during the improvement works at Bath Spa station. The modernised station will open up extra capacity for more rail commuters coming to Bath Spa, which links in with the other development work going on in the city and the Council’s long term vision for Bath – with transport improvements and economic growth supporting plans for around 7,000 new homes and 11,000 new jobs by 2035.”


The new trains coming into service later this year.

Feedback from bus operators running local services along London Road has suggested that the temporary extension of the city-bound bus lane could make a significant improvement to punctuality and journey times. Therefore, the Council will run an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order to help identify and quantify these benefits, and establish whether the bus lane should become permanent. Data will be gathered on the journey times of buses and all other traffic in order to fully understand the impact. The data will be assessed during this time alongside public consultation feedback and recommendations will be made on the bus lane’s future. 

For more information on rail services during the Bath Spa improvement works visit


Bath celebrates World Heritage status.

Bath celebrates World Heritage status.

Parade Gardens in Bath will host a day of free activities to celebrate World Heritage Day on Sunday 23 April, 11am-3pm.

Parade Gardens

Parade Gardens.

World Heritage Day is marked at sites around the world each April. This year has special importance for Bath as the city celebrates 30 years of being a World Heritage Site.

The theme of this year’s celebrations will be ‘Waters of Bath’ and activities will focus on the past, present and future use and significance of Bath’s hot springs, river and canal network.

Displays will be staged by local museums, archives and heritage organisations, and visitors will have a chance to find out about exciting new developments and restoration projects taking place in Bath.

Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones, (Conservative, Lansdown) Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “World Heritage Day will be a wonderful celebration of Bath’s 30 years as a World Heritage City. There will be free events and activities for people of all ages in Parade Gardens, as well as a chance to explore other parts of the city on guided walks.”

This year, for the first time, there will be a programme of short talks. Local experts will explore different aspects of the water theme, including the medicinal use of spa water, the importance of the waterways in the Georgian development of the city, Bath’s cold water springs and minor spas, the use of thermal water to heat the Abbey, and the history of Bath’s river crossings.

roman baths

The Great Bath – part of the Roman bathing complex built around the thermal waters.

Guided walks will be on offer throughout the day, ranging from a 30-minute Garden Tour, to a 60 minute exploration of Cleveland Pools, a 75-minute tour around the river and canal, and a longer walk to the Bath Skyline. 

Entertainment will be provided on the bandstand by Bath City Jubilee Waits playing traditional English waites (11am-12pm) and brass band the Bath Spa Band (2.30pm-3.30pm). To mark St George’s Day, Widcombe Mummers will perform ‘St George and the Dragon’ at 1pm.

There will be plenty to keep younger visitors busy. Kids can follow the ‘Bookmark Stamp Trail’ to find out why Bath is so special; practise their engineering skills by trying to build Pulteney Bridge; explore old maps to see how Bath has changed over time; try their luck at World Heritage dominoes; test their knowledge of globally important places and add a pin to a giant map to show which World Heritage Sites they have visited. They’ll also be invited to make a scented ‘spa posy’ or dragonfly to take home.

Visitors can share their memories of the day by uploading their Pulteney Bridge selfies using #bathworldheritageday.

Find out more about all the events via:

The City of Bath was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Bath is one of only two cities in Europe for which the entire urban area has World Heritage Status (the other is Venice). 

The six reasons why Bath was designated as a World Heritage Site are: the Roman remains, the hot springs, the 18th-century architecture, the 18th-century town planning, the green setting of the city, and the social setting of the 18th-century spa resort.



No parking in York Street

No parking in York Street

Parking is to be suspended along the entire length of York Street in Bath from Friday, April 24th.

B&NES says it follows the discovery of defects within the highway structure during an inspection earlier this month. 


York Street closure.

‘Following advice from both Council and independent engineers, York Street has been partially closed between Abbey Street and Stall Street to traffic to ensure the safety of the public and the scheduled ancient monument beneath the highway.    Bath & North East Somerset Council is working to avoid closing the entire length of York Street in order to minimise disruption. 

However, to ensure pedestrian safety and to maintain two way traffic,  parking is to be suspended in the section of York Street that remains open.

Urgent remedial repairs are required.  At this time it is unknown how long the road closure will remain in place, however we are working to make the road safe as soon as possible.’

Alternative access to Swallow Street will be via Lower Borough Walls, Stall Street, Abbeygate Street, Swallow Street between 10am and 6pm.  Pedestrian access is not affected..

B&NES says it  understands this will cause inconvenience and appreciates the cooperation of residents and local businesses.

The Council will be issuing regular updates throughout the works.