Festive boost or major blockage?

Festive boost or major blockage?

I am all for the business the annual Christmas Market brings into Bath but not too sure about this ‘chalet’ extension into pedestrianised Union Street.


New Christmas Market ‘chalets’ erected in the middle of Union Street.

After making such a fuss about traders using A boards – and seeing them as obstructions – B&NES has allowed a major blockage of a main shopping avenue.

Not only is the additional footfall going to obstruct business for established traders – but people stopping to look or trade at the street stalls are going to cause hold ups for everyone else.


Another view of the new pitch for Christmas Market ‘chalets’ in Union Street.

With so many empty shops alongside – it’s a shame Christmas Market traders could not have been offered some sort of ‘pop-up’ facility to use them.


‘Chalets’ erected alongside empty shops in Union Street.

I can see problems for emergency services, the disabled and even – God forbid it – any safe and quick  evacuation of people if suddenly required.

This is NOT a good idea.


The Big Issue seller is going to have to find a new pitch.

PS The Big Issue seller – with his famous dog – is also having to move his pitch up towards The Min.

Bath Christmas Market told Bath Newseum:

“The new location of chalets should help aid congestion and improve visitor flow.

We are committed to public safety and work closely with the relevant authorities to ensure safety measures, plans and procedures are in place.”

Major new exhibitions at the Holburne in 2018.

Major new exhibitions at the Holburne in 2018.

The Holburne Museum in Bath has today announced its 2018 exhibitions programme, including the first museum retrospective of the painter Anthony Fry, the first exhibition to bring together Dutch seventeenth-century paintings from National Trust collections around the country, and an exhibition focussed on Thomas Gainsborough’s theatrical portraits. As well as curating these three major new exhibitions, the Museum will organise contemporary commissions and public events throughout the year, with further details to be announced.

Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum at the Sydney Gardens end of Great Pulteney Street.

Dr Chris Stephens, Director of the Holburne Museum, said: ‘We look forward with great excitement to 2018. We are delighted to be working in close partnership with the National Trust on the first exhibition to bring together their Dutch masterpieces, and to be presenting shows of two significant artists with local connections and of international recognition. Bringing together great art of the past and the present, from around the world and from nearby is what the Holburne is all about.’



Anthony Fry, Mango and Rice Paddies, Thirunelli, 1991, ©Private Collection / Permission kindly granted by the estate of Anthony Fry

Anthony Fry: A Retrospective 
(9 February – 7 May 2018) is the first major exhibition of the painter Anthony Fry (1927 – 2016). Though Fry enjoyed considerable commercial success in Britain and the United States this is his first museum retrospective. Comprising works lent from prestigious private collections, this exhibition will reveal the extent of his talent. Fry’s principal inspiration was his travels across Tuscany, Andalucía, India, Morocco and the Sahara Desert. He had an early introduction to art through his great aunt Marjorie Fry, sister of the art critic Roger Fry, and through her had contact with the Bloomsbury Group, and was cousin to the painter Howard Hodgkin. He sought a synthesis of the figurative tradition in which he had been trained and abstraction, most notably that of Mark Rothko.


Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait Wearing a White Feathered Bonnet © National Trust Images – Chris Titmus

Prized Possessions: Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses 
(25 May – 16 September 2018) will bring together Dutch seventeenth-century paintings from National Trust collections around the country for the first time, including works by masters of the ‘Golden Age’ such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Lely, Gabriel Metsu, Aelbert Cuyp and Cornelis de Heem. The National Trust cares for one of the largest and most significant collections of art in the UK, commissioned and collected by country house owners for over 300 years. The exhibition will explore what made Dutch art so sought after among country house owners and how Dutch art collecting in British country houses developed over the centuries, as tastes and interests changed.


Thomas Gainsborough, Mrs Siddons © The National Gallery, London

Gainsborough and the Theatre 
(5 October 2018 – 20 January 2019) celebrates Thomas Gainsborough’s close involvement with the theatre world of London and Bath. It will showcase some of his finest portraits of his friends in the theatre, creating a conversation between the leading actors, managers, musicians, playwrights, designers, dancers and critics of the 1760s to 1780s. It shows how his work with the likes of David Garrick in Bath launched his career there and later in London, and how actors enabled him to explore naturalism in portraiture, just as they and their contemporaries turned to less artificial forms of performance in theatre, music and dance. Themes of celebrity and friendship will also be explored through some of the most touching likenesses by “the most faithful disciple of Nature that ever painted.”



Anthony Fry: A Retrospective
The Holburne Museum, Bath
9 February – 7 May 2018
£10 | £9 concession | £5 Art Fund | Free to all Museum Members and under 16s

Prized Possessions: Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses
25 May – 16 September 2018
£10 | £9 concession | £7.50 National Trust Members | £5 Art Fund | Free to all Museum Members and under 16s

Gainsborough and the Theatre
5 October 2018 – 20 January 2019
£10 | £9 concession | £5 Art Fund | Free to all Museum Members and under 16s

Keeping up to date

Keeping up to date

In a fast-moving city, it’s hard to take a city street photograph without it being out of date a few months later. Businesses come and go and that seems to be a fact one Bath Newseum follower wants to impress upon the city’s ‘Visit Bath’ organisation.

Jay Gardiner writes:

“Take a look at the Visit Bath site and their “10 Festive shopping experiences in Bath.” It was posted on Twitter on the  9th November.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 15.20.45

The Corridor image on the Visit Bath website.

The last picture – of the Corridor  -shows its age by the store in the photo. When did the T shirt print shop leave?!
This is THE prime agency to promote our city, I thought, and all we are offered is out of date info – in a bid to attract tourists!”

This is the most up to date image l have from a few days ago!


The Corridor – in November 2017!

Is it time to sell the ‘family jewels?’

Is it time to sell the ‘family jewels?’

A congestion charge and a tourist tax on hotel beds are just two suggestions l would like to put into the melting pot to help B&NES find some additional revenue to offset the 16 million pounds budget shortfall it says it still has.


Balancing the books at B&NES

Elsewhere on this site, you will see a story about how the Council is holding local forums to take suggestions from the general public on how to make savings. Things are so bad seems 300 employees will probably lose their jobs.

Things are so bad seems 300 employees will probably lose their jobs.

Well, this is also a forum that attracts public attention so l hope the powers that be will be amongst our readers.


Would a congestion charge bring in much revenue for B&NES?

Bringing back some sort of inner-city road toll has to be a serious contender for active consideration. Bath Preservation Trust has already said they would like one introduced for tourist coaches.


Should all Bath’s hotels have to add a couple of pounds to the bill as a tourist tax? It happens in mainland Europe.


The same goes for a tourist tax. Though B&NES has considered it – it hasn’t been brave enough to lead the way and implement such a charge.

Now it’s a member of the West of England Combined Authority maybe joint action on this front with Bristol might be a way forward. Both cities need their tourist revenue.

For Sale

Might it come to this?

One more thing – with the local authority shrinking so much – l hear one in-joke talks about being relocated to a broom cupboard – they should put the Guildhall on the market. It would make a fine hotel.

All joking apart, l hope Bathonians will have their say. Whatever your views about the Council’s actions of late there is one inescapable fact and that is central government is squeezing them financially to an ever-closer death.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Sunshine and blue skies over Bath this morning as l chanced upon a few signs that – despite the warm weather – the mid-winter festival of Christmas will soon be upon us.


The sun shines upon Bath this Thursday morning in mid-November.

The tree has gone up in Abbey Church Yard, and our annual Christmas Market continues in its construction.


The tree is up in Abbey Church Yard.

They have spread down Bath Street and around the corner for the first time so there is a circle to one side of the Cross Bath.


The Christmas Market has spread into Hot Bath Street. Age UK BANES hope they will still have access.

Bumped into some concerned volunteers from Age UK BANES who bring the old and disabled into their St Michael’s Place Centre for coffee and a chat.

They want to know they will have clear access for people in wheelchairs and certainly won’t want to push their elderly through market crowds.


Arriving flat pack! The drinks and food chalet going up in Stall Street. It will be followed – later in December – by the carousel.

Outside the Roman Bath’s the food and drink bar – which qualifies as a chalet as it’s big enough – was setting up shop. It replaced the Victorian carousel a few years ago – much to many a Bathonian’s displeasure.


It’s good to hear the carousel is coming back – albeit a bit later than many would have liked.

A bit of a compromise this year as the ‘gallopers’ will be on this site straight after the market ends.


The Apres Ski chalet under construction outside the Abbey Hotel.

At least the Abbey Hotel – busy putting up its Apres Ski Chalet – says the Snow Globe will be alongside – as usual. One bit of fun for all the family.


It’s fun having your picture taken behind the Abbey Hotel’s snow globe.

Away from Christmas preparations and into the Saw Close where the first occupant of the newmulti-million-poundd development is getting ready to open.


Furniture has arrived for the new Zizzi Restaurant in the Saw Close.

My understanding is that restaurant chain Zizzi will be having an in-house service try-out this weekend for family and friends. So an official opening cannot be many days away.

More info on the Christmas Market via http://bathchristmasmarket.co.uk



Balancing the books.

Balancing the books.

The government’s financial squeeze on local authorities has seen major cost-cutting by B&NES – including now the threat to 300 jobs – but the Council is still needing to find ways of saving an additional 16 million pounds by 2020.


The Bath Guildhall

Local people are going to be asked for their views and suggestions in a series of meetings across the authority’s area.

The Council is assessing how it can save a further £16 million by 2020 – on top of the £27 million that is in the process of being saved, and the £15 million announced in the previous budget – while continuing to deliver essential services.  This will help to close a growing funding gap, due in part to the increasing demand and rising cost for adult and children social care.

In a presentation, going out to local area forums over the coming weeks, the Council says it will be setting out its priorities to put residents first; protecting and caring for its most vulnerable residents, nurturing people’s health, safety and well-being, and providing ways for everyone in the community to reach their full potential.

Cllr Charles Gerrish (Conservative, Keynsham North) Cabinet Member for Finance & Efficiency, said: “Despite already making significant savings and capitalising on opportunities to earn income, we will need to change the way that we work, identify what we can do differently less of, or stop, and how we can raise additional income. We are already working hard to maximise extra income and will be putting our case to Government to recognise the unprecedented challenges that we face.

Cllr Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), Leader of Council, said: “Almost three-quarters of all councils in England which deliver social care are struggling to balance their budgets.

“So far we’ve saved £27 million with minimal impact on frontline services, whilst still investing in key projects such as Bath Quays and the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone, and continuing to be regarded as a good authority in key areas by independent inspectors. For example, we have an outstanding fostering and adoption service, silver standard for homelessness services and some of the best schools in the South West.

“However, we have to prioritize what we do in the future while putting residents first and ensuring frontline services are protected as far as possible. Clearly, this will mean some very difficult choices. We see the local area forums as a key element to help us meet these challenges.

“I recognise that this will have an impact on staff, and these changes will be managed with care and attention.”

The Council estimates that in future it will become a smaller organisation as it changes the way it works, which will result in a reduction of around 300 full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs in its 2,000 FTE-strong workforce (15%).

Pressures faced

The detailed presentation going out to local area forums says there are many reasons why the authority is under financial pressure and it forecasts that by the end of this year 80p in every £1 will be spent on social care.

An increasing number of people are living longer with complex conditions that require support which is expensive; more children and young adults are living with complex care and educational needs – some costing up to £250,000 per person – and there are 14 percent more children in Bath & North East Somerset Council’s care than last year.

The Council is paying a fair price for good quality care services; it is meeting the national living wage, it has more responsibility for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and it is helping more families struggling with low income. This all adds greater pressures onto the system in terms of social care and accommodation costs.

Cllr Gerrish added: “Our role as a universal provider is changing, so the way we work has to change. As part of this, we are aiming for better-integrated services with the NHS around adult care. And we have to ensure our statutory functions are maintained – even if they are delivered differently.

“We also need to be more creative in the way we help our local economy grow and we are working hard to find innovative ways to raise income and become more self-sufficient by investing in the local economy, bringing in new jobs and making the most of our commercial estate and heritage services to raise income.”

The Council wants to hear people’s views on how best the authority can meet the pressures on its budget, people are invited to one of the Council’s local area forums on:

  • 15th Nov – Freshford Village Memorial Hall, 6pm
  • 22nd Nov – The Kaposvar Room, Guildhall, Bath, 6pm
  • 27th Nov – Council Chamber, Guildhall, Bath, 6pm
  • 29th Nov – Midsomer Norton Town Hall (TBC), 6pm
  • 30th Nov – Community Space, Keynsham, 6:30pm
  • 4th Dec – Chew Valley School, Chew Magna, 6pm.

For your information:

Bath & North East Somerset Council says it has a good track record of managing to live within its means:

  • Reducing its estate and overheads (buildings and offices)
  • Proposing new ways to deliver services, rather than cutting them
  • Improving technology to streamline operations
  • Working with other authorities and CCG to be more efficient  in social care services
  • Supporting the new West of England Combined Authority which is bringing significant investment to the district
  • Finding innovative ways to increase income in our commercial estate, heritage services and property development company
  • Successfully bidding for grants.
  • The Council has secured investment of £10m into Keynsham Leisure Centre.
  • It has also secured investment of £10.8m into Bath Leisure Centre.
  • It is delivering against £70m of West of England investment in the Bath & Somer Valley Enterprise Zone which will deliver up to 9,000 local jobs including :

o    £36m to facilitate the delivery of Bath Quays and up to 20,000sqm of new modern office space

o    £10m on flood mitigation and enabling infrastructure for Bath Western Riverside which will deliver more than 2,000 new homes

o    £18.5m for new and expanded primary school provision

o    95% of families get their preferred primary school places

o    Secured more than £6m worth on investment from the West of England to improve adult skills and local infrastructure

o    Children’s Services rated as Good

o    Adoption Services are rated as Outstanding

o    Rehabilitation services have helped nine out of 10 older people leaving hospital to still be at home three months after discharge.




Designs on Sydney Gardens

Designs on Sydney Gardens

People can have their say on plans to secure a £2.7 million Heritage Lottery Fund to improve one of Britain’s best remaining Georgian Pleasure Gardens.

sydney gardens

Winter sunshine in Sydney Gardens

Bath & North East Somerset Council is bidding for the lottery money to invest in Sydney Gardens, first opened in 1795 and a favourite spot of Jane Austen.

The Sydney Gardens Parks for People Project has already secured £270k from the Heritage Lottery and is now preparing a round-two bid which will provide funds to improve the historic park.

If successful, money will be used to restore historic buildings, invest in landscaping works, renovate the play area and create new gardens, alongside a programme of events and activities.

The project will celebrate the fascinating history of the gardens, with its Cosmorama, Labyrinth, Merlins Swing, concerts, public breakfasts, galas and illuminations.

Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield) Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “We are holding a public consultation about proposed improvements. We want people to come along and enjoy this special place then look at the design plans and have a say in the future of Sydney Gardens.”

People can drop into the consultation on Saturday 25 November from 11.30am – 4.30pm in the Gardener’s Lodge. The gardens are a short walk from the town centre behind the Holburne Museum, on Sydney Road.

The consultation is also online from November 25 via the Sydney Gardens website. The links are here:

Facebook: @SydneyGardensBath

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BathnesParks