Traders urge council to help them help Keynsham and revive High Street

Published on: 30 Jun 2017

Help us to help Keynsham – that’s the message from traders in the town’s High Street and Temple Street to council chiefs overseeing the new one-way system.

Business owners have held a “crisis meeting” with representatives from Bath and North East Somerset Council to discuss a worrying drop in footfall, with some of the independent shops reporting that their trade has dropped by as much as 30 per cent. Concerns have been raised by the business owners that the new road layout is confusing and discouraging visitors, while signage for the town’s car parks isn’t clear enough, they say.  

The trial of a one-way system along Keynsham High Street was introduced in May in a bid to ease traffic in the town centre and make the shopping area more pedestrian-friendly.

Maria Spill, of Café Crème, called the meeting on June 19, after she and her neighbours noticed that despite traffic flowing well along the High Street, business was worryingly slow for many.

She said: “We just weren’t getting the usual number of visitors and, after talking to many of the other businesses in the High Street and Temple Street, it became clear we weren’t the only ones. Some people are really upset and really worried that this will continue so the meeting was called urgently.

“We aren’t blaming the one-way scheme as many of us have noticed that things have been quieter for a few months with work going on in the street to relocate the bus stops. But things have come to a head since the one-way system began.”

At the meeting, which was attended by councillors and officers from B&NES Council’s economic development and transport departments,  traders put forward a number of suggestions, including printed maps showing the routes around the new system for both residents and visitors, large maps at either end of the High Street featuring local businesses, clearer signage for parking and help with raising Keynsham’s profile on social media. The town’s car parks should also be better promoted, particularly the free parking on Saturdays in Bath Hill East car park, which many locals and visitors weren’t even aware of, said the traders. 

Temple Street business owner Andy Hawkins, from Bath Ink and Toner, said while it wasn’t ideal that cars couldn’t go from the High Street straight into Temple Street, the measure that would make the most difference to businesses and shoppers would be to introduce a period of free parking in the car parks.

He said: “A free hour or 90 minutes would be a massive gesture to try to get people back in. It’s now become inconvenient for people to just pop in as they have to go round the system. It would have a huge impact for businesses.”

Maria added: “We are very grateful that we are being listened to. We have put up with a lot for the past few years and we feel they owe us a bit of help. There are a lot of independent businesses here, which is an asset, and to keep them here they need to help us to help Keynsham and get trade back to where it was a few years ago before the redevelopment began.”

B&NES said it is acting on comments and feedback on the one-way trial and it would be the community that has the final say on whether the scheme is made permanent.

Councillor Anthony Clarke, Cabinet member for transport, said: “Since this trial scheme started we have been listening to all of the comments made by residents and traders, and we are taking steps to try and address many of the concerns which have been raised.

“In particular, we are keen to ensure the scheme is safe for all road users and encourages greater footfall onto the High Street in order to support the many local businesses in the town.  The need to improve the shopping environment and support the High Street are some of the main reasons a one-way system has been talked about for many years, so we need to make sure it is fulfilling this objective.

“Clearly any new traffic layout can take time to get used to, but equally we have to balance this with the immediate needs of the local community. We are therefore taking a series of actions in response to the concerns raised, such as improved signage for motorists, better awareness of the parking that is available in the town, and discussing with traders what more can be done to encourage people to use the High Street.  A key message we want to send out is that Keynsham is fully open for business.

“There will be further opportunities for residents to give their feedback in the coming weeks, and ultimately it will be for the Keynsham community to decide whether or not to make this system permanent.”
Traffic monitoring data will also be made available to the community, the council has said.

Traders are due to have a second meeting with council representatives in the coming days.

For more details of the trial, people can visit the project webpage at www.bathnes.gov.uk/keynsham

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