THE ECONOMICS OF TOWN CENTRES

Introduced by Anna Crosbie, Bath City Centre Manager, on 8 May 1997

The post of City Centre Manager is funded by both the Council and the Chamber of Commerce.
Anna Crosbie took the position in 1996 having been with the City Challenge Initiative in the Brick Lane area
of East London.
Bath's commercial centre historically goes back to 1245 when a Royal Charter allowed the
establishment of the market, which is still operating. It is now increasingly necessary to meet the
competition from out-of-town shopping malls, rival towns and, in the future, catalogue and electronic home
shopping. A Business Plan for 1996-99 has been formulated and a Shopping (Discount) Card introduced
recently to encourage purchases from shops in the centre.
Most of the discussion dwelt on the advantages and drawbacks of Bath as a centre and the
improvements proposed in the Business Plan. Traffic and parking were recognised as a major problem and
begging and, to a lesser extent, busking provided a thick file for the new manager on her arrival. The levels
of business rents and rates were a constant headache with the old market being a particular concern. It was
suggested that this might be exempt from Council charges as an obvious tourist attraction and part of the
Civic Heritage.
There were encouraging aspects: Bath is a centre of sporting excellence, a flow of visitors are
attracted to the city and the revival of the Spa would increase the City's attractiveness.
The group differed on whether Pulteney Bridge should be closed to traffic completely but
it was agreed that Bath must make the best use of its particular assets, which are numerous.
Rodney Tye