Bath BriefingNigelP and I went to this event on Friday 23rd February.  ‘The aims were, firstly, to discover and provide data which would show us the need for transport now and in the future; and hence inform Bath’s Transport Policy for the next 30 to 40 years. Secondly, it was to learn about the pollution we experience daily here, as, in large parts of Bath, it is illegally and dangerously high’.  AND Camden Road, we believe, is probably afflicted.

A good report of proceedings is here from Bath Newseum.  There were about 100 in the room, rather than 20 or so you can see in the photo.

No one was arguing that we don’t have enough traffic.  It’s simply whether existing needs behind the use of private vehicles should be mitigated or actively discouraged.

Here are six facts and my take on them as a peak time traffic sufferer on Camden Road:


  1. Bath has 6 million visitors each year – mostly arriving by road (car and coach), regrettably.  Of those 4.8 million are day visitors – mostly UK, not from overseas.
  2. Of the overnight stayers UK ones spend £186 and the overseas, £386.
    I sat next to a couple from NYC at the Bachfest who were definitely spending a lot to do a lot.  We should really value our tourism business and improve visitors’ experience for lots of reasons.


  1. Retail business is declining but catering and business is increasing.  However not many can afford to work and live in Bath, hence the peak time commuting and strong campaigning for genuinely affordable housing.  I heard elsewhere that London is a tale of two cities – scarce and expensive housing for the lower paid and masses of high end property but scarcely occupied by its owners.  Unregulated AirBnB is silently pushing Bath in the same direction.
  2. Some cogent arguments were made to extend P&R opening hours to start to support the high staff numbers in the hospitality businesses who start before breakfast and finish well into the early hours.  This could also embrace our visitors’ cars which probably don’t get used, once their owners are in intriguing Bath for the week-end.  But we’ll have to wait two years or so for the next contract negotiation.


  1. Closer to home on bus routes 6 and 7, we should be getting much cleaner burning Euro6 buses to replace our Euro4s in July this year.  The bus company could not tell me whether they would be quieter.
  2. Railways – the main train line will be shut again this Easter, but we will be getting newer, cleaner diesel/electric hybrid trains (running on diesel) on GWR route.  We’ll also get some newer ‘turbo’ 5-car trains on the other lines passing through Bath, from Wiltshire, Bristol and beyond to Cardiff which could encourage transfer to train from car.  And there is talk of a ‘MetroWest’ to link up Bristol with its surrounding areas including Bath.

2 thoughts on “Wera’s Bath Transport Briefing – 1

  1. Yes, a very good meeting with a lot of useful facts and figures.
    A secure 24hr Park & Ride so those staying overnight have no need to bring their cars into the centre seems an obvious next step, and if the Government/Council what more money to carry these ideas forward, a change in legislation allowing a proper business tax on AirBnB and party-lets is staring them in the face.

    It would also appear that sometime within the next two years the Council’s contract with First Group P&R is up for renewal so we need to be proactive about what we want out of this that could benefit Camden..


  2. Thanks for this, Jeremy, although I fear that Ms Hobhouse’s briefing is less than compelling. I’ve been hearing and reading this sort of stuff – on Bath’s economy, transport, pollution, affordable housing etc. for many years, from both Lib Dem and Tory MPs and councillors, yet what I see year in, year out is a town being trashed by a council run in the main by people who do not live in Bath, do not represent Bath wards, have only the faintest notion of what life is like in the town and whose only vision for its future is as a honeypot for low-rent one-day/long weekend tourism (lured by the Jane Austen fantasy) of the kind that will undoubtedly fail to sustain the hotel boom it has encouraged. Local authorities in Venice and Barcelona have had the good sense to question their over-reliance on tourism. I’m not holding my breath for a similar paradigm shift here.

    I’d be interested to know what it is about Bath that Ms Hobhouse thinks ‘intrigues’ tourists. Could it be the vast number of fast-food outlets in the centre that help to create the mountains of litter that feed the seagulls? Or the increasing number of empty stores – providing scant shelter for rough sleepers – that independent retailers can no longer afford to run. A city without a concert hall is an intriguing proposition, as is one that is to have a casino but no longer has a police station for its 68,000 residents and six million visitors.

    We have to thank for all this a council that wastes millions on schemes such as the library move and the Bathampton Park and Ride fiasco while pleading poverty, yet managing (in the financial year ending March 2017) to employ eight senior executives (including a chief executive and three “strategic” directors) at a total employment cost of £923,876. Another intriguing fact is that members’ allowances rose from £861,549 in 2015/6 to £885,029 in 2016/7, when ten councillors each filed claims in excess of £20,000, amounting to a total cost of £267,546. The highest payment – to the council leader and member for the Mendip ward – was £41,560. Is it so difficult to see what priorities should be, or does the council take advice from Dame Glynis Breakwell for advice on executive salaries and management structure?


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