Alice Park – and ride?

Alice Park – and ride?

An afternoon circular walk through Larkhall meant we passed lovely Alice Park – on the corner of the London Road and Gloucester Road.

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Perfectly positioned with fine tree specimens.

The terrible thought struck me that this could be the answer to the proposed East of Bath Park and Ride location issue.

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Alice Park.

It’s in a perfect position to scoop up traffic coming into the city.

It is already edged with delightful car-shading trees and the childrens’ play park and scrumptious cafe could stay open and take advantage of all the increased business.

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Rooftop gardens.

All said rather tongue-in-cheek but – while we are on the subject – my partner spotted an article  on Facebook about increasing the number of high-rise rooftop gardens in France and wondered whether any scheme that is undertaken on Bathampton Meadows could at least have a roof over it – onto which grass could be sown.

Aesthetically, it could be a big improvement?

Another Cadbury closure links New Zealand and Keynsham.

Another Cadbury closure links New Zealand and Keynsham.

It’s amazing how social media has truly brought the world together and, in this particular instance, shown how the trauma of losing a major employer can impact on a community.

Many in Keynsham are still getting over the pain of how the town lost its identity when Cadbury’s new American owners Kraft decided to change their minds and close the factory they said they would save – back in 2011. It was at a cost of 1,000 jobs.

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The old Somerdale factory site

Things have moved on. The old red factory buildings are being turned into a retirement village and there’s new residential housing on the site and the promise of business units to hopefully bring new jobs.

Now, across the world in New Zealand, another Cadbury’s factory faces closure in Dunedin – the second largest city in the South Island.

The company is now owned by Mondelez International – a spin-off snacks-side business created by Kraft – and has cited increased costs and distance to its markets as making it untenable to continue the business – even though those who oppose the closure say it is still profitable. Three hundred and sixty people will lose their jobs.

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The Cadbury’s factory at Dunedin, New Zealand. © Mondelez International

The developing story is being covered by the city’s daily paper the Otago Daily Times – https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/bitter-aftertaste-cadburys-closing

By all means check out their website. In doing that, l found a story a reporter  from the Otago Daily Times had done on how Keynsham in the UK was still feeling the pain of its factory closure.

It is featured on the website of the New Zealand Herald via http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11807638  and well worth reading.

I am hoping they won’t mind me quoting a section of it. A report by Chris Morris.

“Stephen Rodgers, editor of the weekly Keynsham newspaper The Week In, told the ODT many in the town felt the company’s Quaker traditions had been “sold out by the Cadbury board to maximise profits and satisfy the concerns of institutional investors”.

Those Quaker values encouraged a loyal workforce, many of who remained in the town all their working lives.

But with so many staff close to retirement, the company was able to persuade them to accept enhanced redundancy packages, forcing the unions to “stand down”, he said.

And, despite a “continued and high-profile campaign” by town residents, “the ink was in effect dry on the deal”.

The town had survived the economic effects, and the former factory site provided much-needed space for 600 new homes, as well as the retirement village.But that did not mean the “resentment” had disappeared, he said.

“Cadbury was an icon that was very much a part of the town’s history and heritage … I think everyone felt there was a difference between what was morally right and corporately desirable.

“Of course, in such cases, the corporate argument always wins.”

Do visit the site to read the full report. A situation linking two towns that are  11,426 miles apart.

Storm blast and bloom.

Storm blast and bloom.

The day after Storm Doris and – just inside the wall surrounding Sydney Gardens  -adjoining Sydney Road – evidence of the severity of the wind gusts that hit the city.

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Storm Doris damage in Sydney Gardens.

What a great job B&NES teams did too in clearing fallen trees and branches. Don’t know whether any part of this mature fir is able to be rescued for future growth but no doubt the Parks Department will be returning to the scene to deal with the remains.

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The canal-side wall that still needs cleaning off.

Good to see the B&NES Graffiti Unit has dealt with most of the vandalism that disfigured the stone wall beside the Kennet and Avon Canal running through the gardens – though the daubings remain to be dealt with under one of the ornamental bridges crossing the canal and through the long canal tunnel out of the gardens towards open countryside.

I am hearing it all depends on who owns which wall. Hope it is sorted out soon and the rest of this attack on one of our best loved heritage assets is cleaned away.

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Spring flowers in Sydney Gardens today – amongst the fallen twigs from yesterday’s storm.

On a final – and spring like note – what a difference a day makes. Today’s warm sunshine has helped many more miniature daffodils to bloom in Sydney Gardens. A welcome sight.

Hotel names and faded crossings.

Hotel names and faded crossings.

Back from a short break in Spain – enjoying the delights of cheap and clean electric trains – and out into Bath city centre.

These observations are all about signs. In Monmouth Street l passed the recently repainted Griffin Inn where it was good to see another example of new sign writing decorating an old building.

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‘Craft beer sold here’ says this contemporary example of an old sign-writing tradition.

It’s a  contemporary take on an old tradition marked by the faded advertisements – or ghost signs for long defunct businesses – which are still to be seen everywhere in the city.

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They feature in a book called Ghost Signs of Bath – which has been written by Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott – and published by Akeman Press.

Not far away in James Street West the latest Apex hotel is taking shape and due for opening in the summer of this year.

The 177 bedroomed 4-star complex will be joining nine other hotels the company owns across the UK.

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Not too long now before the scaffolding comes down on Bath’s latest 4 star hotel – but what will the name sign above it’s door actually say?

The Apex hotels website calls it the Apex City of Bath Hotel but l am sure l saw something about a competition to choose a name for the newcomer from a pre-selected list.

None of them struck me as being very much about the new hotel’s historic location.

I can live with ‘City of Bath Apex’ but would prefer they looked across the road and reflected on the once busy Bath terminus of the Somerset and Dorset Railway.

Apex Green Park would strike me as an obvious choice.

While we wait to see what finally goes on that sign can l just point out that the black and white stripes of the crossing  outside the Odeon Cinema Complex are so faded – they look like one of the city’s famous ghost signs!

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Not much of this ‘zebra’ marking left to cross on. Some new road marking paint would make it safer.

The paint is so faded – and the Belisha beacons on either pavement so shabby and insignificant – that a visiting driver to Bath may soon not know that he or she is approaching a zebra crossing. Not good news if you are a local pedestrian.

Another road marking that needs replacing!

May the Fourth be with you.

May the Fourth be with you.

The Libs Dems are the last major party to confirm their candidate for the West of England election. Stephen Williams – ex MP for Bristol West and once a councillor on the old Avon authority – will fight for their corner.

Competing for the Conservatives will be South Glos councillor Tim Bowles; for the Greens, Darren Hall, who came second in the Bristol West parliamentary election in 2015 ahead of Williams; and for Labour, parish councillor and NHS manager Lesley Mansell.

I actually welcome theWest of England deal under someone who can maybe speed up the local government machine with a good dose of political Red X – remember that? I am not of course inferring that only a left wing candidate could do that.

I also wonder – with Bath’s contentious east of Bath park and ride proposals currently simmering away – that any successful candidate who is not Conservative could act as a ‘beta blocker’ to scupper those green belt high jinks.

So will we have a competition to give this new authority a special name or can we live with WECA?

Where will the Metro Mayor be based? Will the authority have a coat of arms or a flag? What will it say on the headed notepaper?

We elect the Mayor on May 4th. Officially, the new authority swings into action on May 5th.

One final point – and forgive me but l am under the influence of steroids and antibiotics for the worst cold l have ever experienced – did you know May 4th is now known as Star Wars Day.

Fans of this amazing cinematic sci fi thread quickly saw how it fitted in with that most famous of lines – May the Fourth (Force) be with you.

I certainly hope it is.

When plastic is not fantastic.

When plastic is not fantastic.

A Friday ride through Bath lifted my spirits. First because it is not so cold, and even spring-like, during the brief periods when the sun broke through the gloom.

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B&NES Graffiti Unit in action! The leaves are gathered to soak up the cleaning fluids and stop them running into the canal.

Pleased also to see the B&NES Graffiti Unit in action – helping the Canals and River Trust deal with a recent bad attack of vandalism along a stretch of  one of the city’s historic waterways.

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Looks good but it’s only plastic.

With bulbs starting to sprout greenery above ground level thoughts turn to brighter days in a city famous for its floral displays.

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Bath in plastic bloom.

Seemed a shame to pass one established restaurant that prefers to decorate the front of its business with vegetation of the plastic variety. Doesn’t cost much to invest in spring bulbs but hey – who am l to say.

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Getting those advertising boards off the floor.

After all the fuss about A boards encroaching across pedestrianised Union Street l had to smile at the sight of a man holding an advertising board high in the air. It’s not blocking the pavement of course.

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Cluster of signs at the Union Street end of The Corridor

Though l have to say there’s a bit of A-board pressure developing at the Union Street end of The Corridor and l am not sure attaching posters to Grade 2 listed columns is such a good idea either.

Bath BID were going to experiment with some sort of post bearing the names of multi-business in the vicinity. Wonder what has happened to that?

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Empty shops in New Bond Street.

Mixed in with the high spirits – a bit of a low. The number of properties now empty along New Bond Street – and with others due to go.

Finally back onto the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath out of Bath and some new signage has appeared – reminding all two-wheeled users to be aware of who has priority.

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The new ‘Pedestrian Priority’ signs that have gone up along the towpath.

As a cyclist myself – though not one of those sleek lycra types – can l just point out that l sometimes have to brake when deciding which side of a speeding dog l am going to try and get past.

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Another sign showing people have priority over bikes!

Many dog owners are great with controlling their pets. It’s just the occasional animal – off on an adventure while the owner is elsewhere – and often on a mobile phone – that increases stress.

Respect all round l say in using one of the safest, carbon-monoxide-free routes into the city we all love.

Bath’s police station on wheels!

Bath’s police station on wheels!

The semi-circular space at the Stall Street end of Bath Street contains a significant symbol of great importance to Bath.

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The ‘cobbled’ Stall Street area outside the Roman Baths.

It’s the UNESCO sign marking a World Heritage site and the city shares with Venice the honour of being one of only two European cities to have a blanket designation over its core historical heart.

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The UNESCO World Heritage site symbol.

This status was awarded in 1986 in recognition of Bath’s thermal springs, Roman remains, Georgian architecture, social history, town planning and green (so far) setting.

While it’s good to be able to point out the significance of this mark amongst the ‘cobbles’ to the swarms of tourists who come to Bath – the symbol is not always on show.

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The old Stall Street Christmas Carousel

Every Christmas it would be half hidden from sight under a magical carousel that was always included as part of the annual Christmas Market.

In the last two years the galloping horses has been replaced by yet another beer shed – something that obviously makes more money.

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The Stall Street beer shed.

But just recently the UNESCO symbol  found something a little different crowding in on its space. A ‘mobile’ police station!

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The mobile police station recently spotted at the Stall Street end of Bath Street.

Now that is a new one on me and a welcome sight in a city of some size that no longer can boast a normal city-centre, fixed-to-its-foundations-type constabulary building – as that has been sold off to Bath University.

I have no idea why this station-on-wheels was loitering with intent in this hi-profile site but l am sure a lot of people would welcome seeing more of it around town.

Is this a re-modelling of the old police box? Someone should tell Dr Who he is way behind the times!