‘Are you trying to kill Keynsham?’

Chris Oliver

There has been a furious response to Bath & North East Somerset Council’s proposed “big improvements” for Temple Street in Keynsham.

Last week we reported on the works coming up as part of the Keynsham High Street Heritage Action Zone (HS HAZ) programme which aim to make the Temple Street area more “vibrant”. The project is led by B&NES Council’s Renewal Team, funded by Historic England, with match funding from the council and Keynsham Town Council.

But this week Chris Oliver, who runs Keynsham Hardware, said that the team behind the scheme “do not know or care how Temple Street works” and he branded the consultation that was held as “a sham”.

He said: “The ‘Kill Keynsham Completely’ campaign continues in November with planters, cycle parking and seating on the Riverside side of Temple Street. Then, in January the ‘hard landscaping’ on the other side of the street begins. They say ‘access to businesses will be retained’. It may be maintained during the works, which I doubt, but despite many businesses telling HS HAZ not to take the parking away, that is exactly what they are going to do.

“The reduction will be from 20-odd spaces to eight, plus the two existing disabled bays, exactly what they proposed before the ‘consultation’. They have not listened to us or amended their plans significantly at all. They are going to put planters in between the parking spaces, just like the disabled access group advised them not to do on the High Street.

Temple Street

“They are going to ‘support’ Keynsham town centre with a ‘shop local’ campaign whilst taking away facilities that encourage people to shop here.”

Mr Oliver managed to get more parking in Temple Street just 18 months ago after successful lobbying of local councillors. He said the move had kept his business going.

He said that those affected by the proposed removal of parking spaces would be customers, especially those with limited mobility, visiting local shops and businesses, including tradespeople quickly running into his shop for the job they are on. Also hit will be carriers and lorries trying to make deliveries to Temple Street as the loading bay is going to be outside St Keyna Court; and taxi firms picking up “old and vulnerable” residents at the Riverside block.

Mr Oliver said he had discussed the plans with nearly every one of his customers: “They include cyclists, pedestrians and people who parked outside. No one was in favour.”

In a message aimed at B&NES Council, he said: “You would have thought the issues with the High Street scheme would have taught you a lesson but no, you carry on regardless with your grand ‘greening’ scheme whilst swathes of Green Belt are built on. Presumably we will be told to familiarise ourselves with the lack of parking, plethora of planters and ‘spill-out’ seating outside The Trout?”

Another Temple Street trader, Debbie French, from bra fitting shop Perfect Fit, said: “I am very concerned about the loss of our parking, I was told that they were going to listen to the traders but sorry to say they have not.

“It is extremely hard on traders at the moment with all the taxes and bills going up, at least they could have done is given us the parking. We are going to have to put up with all the construction work which will be starting very soon and going on for some time. You only have to look at the main High Street to see what problems and chaos it has caused and still ongoing.

“Now it is Temple Street’s time, which I am not looking forward to, as it is yet again going to cause chaos for all the traders and our customers.”

Susan Charles in Keynsham High Street earlier this year

Susan Charles, from disability campaign group Access B&NES, said she was “furious” about the Temple Street proposals and accused B&NES Council of “killing small shopping areas”.

In Issue 741 (3rd August) we highlighted that her group had flagged up problems with the design and safety problems with the proposed Keynsham High Street refurbishment prior to the work starting, but had been ignored. Their concerns included the stepped kerb between the cycle lane and the road, where dozens of people have tripped or fallen, with some sustaining serious injuries. The equality group had also been concerned about the difficulties that people who are mobility challenged would have in crossing the road with the different levels, and the hazard of planters.

This week Susan Charles said of Temple Street: “This council are taking away parking areas where people could pop into a shop/office quickly and making life difficult.

“We did not as an Access group attend a consultation, we were not invited as a group, but made our individual comments, pointing out the obstructions for those with mobility issues, just the same as Chris Oliver did.”

Keynsham councillor Alan Hale, who has been a fierce critic of the High Street changes, told us this week “Both Cllr Brian Simmons and I have constantly made the point that whatever happens in Temple Street, there should certainly be no reduction in the available on-street parking on the west side of the street. This is a position that I am sure we will continue to hold and promote.”