It’s a mess

There is a growing consternation amongst residents about the state of the public realm in the city centre. This is not a new issue (!) but has been made worse by:

  • an apparent deterioration in the amount of street cleaning and problems arising from inadequate waste/rubbish/recycling collection – both commercial and domestic – exacerbated by our huge colony of nesting gulls at this time of year;
  • an apparent increase in the numbers of beggars and rough sleepers and evidence of drug use on our city centre streets; business complain of increased crime and the appearance of organised gangs of shoplifters;
  • a combination of several construction/repair works causing major eye-sores and disruption in the heart of the city.

At the time of writing, a particularly bad case in point is the dire state of Bath Street/Hot Bath Street, one of Bath’s most iconic, colonnaded streets which includes several Grade 1 listed buildings and historic monuments. Here, several sets of repair works (each requiring scaffolding) are underway on various privately owned/leased buildings, including along one whole side of the colonnades. The latter, to do with removing paint from the columns, has required barrier-sheeting over the scaffolding, creating concealed areas behind the sheets that – in the absence of any monitoring/policing – have become a haven for drug-takers with several reports of discarded needles being found here.

These eyesores have all been compounded by the Councils own works to install security bollards at the end of Hot Bath Street – requiring traffic re-directions involving swathes of temporary signage along the length of Bath Street. It’s a mess. 

Most residents understand that some of these works – in particular repairs to ageing buildings – are inevitable and, in some respects, it’s good that a large cluster of them are happening simultaneously. However, there appears to be little effort made to ensue that disruption – both physical and visual – is minimised or that the works are completed within agreed, minimal time-frames. The works have all required and received various forms of planning consent; conditions should be placed on such consents that address the maintenance and appearance of works-in-progress in the historic city centre and the timeframes allowed for completion of the works. 

With regard to increased crime, rubbish, gulls and the complex problems of rough sleepers …these are all ongoing concerns and there are at least signs that the new council administration is willing to engage with residents, businesses and other local organisations over the coming weeks to find some practical mitigations, if not immediate solutions. TARA will report on these initiatives, assuming they come to fruition, in the near future.