MP calls for action to help businesses hit by Kelston Road closure


Upton Inn landlord Jamie Pike

Upton Inn landlord Jamie Pike

Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore has called for action to help local businesses struggling as a result of the landslip which has closed the Kelston Road into Bath.

He has asked South Gloucestershire Council to look at temporarily suspending business rates for those specifically affected by a dramatic drop in footfall as a result of the road closure.

This follows previous letters that the MP has written on behalf of constituents affected by the road closure, including to First Bus, which has now established a relief shuttle bus service to help those unable to access bus services in Bitton, Swineford and along the A431.

Mr Skidmore said: “The closure of the A431 along Kelston for up to six months could have a devastating impact on local businesses in my constituency in the villages of Bitton, Swineford, Beach and Upton Cheyney.

“While it is good news that First Bus have established a bus link to these affected areas, I am concerned that we need to do all we can to help businesses affected, which is why I have called for help with their business rates. These are hardworking local industries employing local people.”

Mr Skidmore was approached by Jamie Pike, landlord of the Upton Inn in Upton Cheyney where trade has suffered even though the pub is accessible as usual from Bitton.

He said: “Mr Pike explained that since the Kelston Road was closed he has lost a significant level of trade. He is concerned that his intake has been reduced to such a level that they will soon struggle to stay open.”

Mr Pike told The Week In that it was not just his business affected by other local pubs and traders. He said he would welcome business rate relief as his bill is £2,000 a month.

He says he has lost 60 per cent of his weekend trade as so many customers are from Bath and with the A431 closed by Kelston Park, many people are reluctant to come over Lansdown and through the lanes to get to the pub, particularly at night.

Jody Smith and Jemma Wiggins, who run the White Hart at Bitton, say their trade is down by as much as 40 per cent at weekends and about 10 per cent during the week.

“We’ve effectively lost the Bath trade,” said Mr Smith. “Luckily the weather should be picking up so we will make the most of our big garden and are planning to have barbecues.”

The Old Crown at Kelston is also accessible from Bitton but has been hit because there is no passing trade and many usual customers are from Bath.

Meanwhile the Swan pub at Swineford has also been affected, saying: “We want everyone to know that the pub is open for business as usual. People can still approach the pub from the Bitton direction on the A431.”

Today South Gloucestershire councillor for Bitton, Erica Williams, said: “I have visited local businesses affected by the Kelston Road closure and will have a meeting with them again next week.

“I have asked Steve Evans, Director for Environment and Community Services, to sanction more wide spread signage to help and also called the valuation offices to gain rate reductions and there is also a hardship fund within South Gloucestershire Council that they can also apply for.

“I will be attending a  meeting with B&NES Council next week that Mark King (South Gloucestershire’s Head of Streetcare and Transport) has organised which I hope will be productive.”