Do we really need all this?

January 25, 2011 12:22 PM

I recently visited Bath council’s self-congratulatory ‘Treasure and Transform’ exhibition on the city’s future. Aside from the amusingly pointless design fluff of comparing Bath to a gentleman’s shoe or cricket ball, the nitty-gritty of the exhibition seemed to reinforce a feeling that despite our belt-tightening times, Bath & NES council is determined to go on a spending spree with our money.

There is the £14 million devoted to redeveloping Bath station, but what exactly do we get for this? The southern entrance will be re-instated, a new civic square created and the development of the vaults into restaurants and other unspecified facilities. Are there not enough restaurants just a stone’s throw away (indeed cafés struggling to get business)? Is the space in front of the station not adequate enough? So that leaves an awful lot of money being spent on a new entrance.

Similarly, an undisclosed sum of money is being spent on supposedly much-needed improvements to Bath Abbey, including a multi-purpose space, whatever that means, a café for visitors (are there not enough nearby?), environmentally friendly heating, plus developing (yet again) the vaults for unspecified purposes. All very nice, but do we really need it? Both these projects are swallowing millions of local taxpayers’ money that could be spent on essential services, surely?

At Keynsham and Midsomer Norton we have £28.8 million being spent on new Community Resource Centres. All very pleasant if there was money going spare, but would anyone really miss these projects if they weren’t there? Then we have the re-building of Keynsham Town Hall with library and shops to create a ‘flagship building’, said a helpful advisor at the exhibition. Price unspecified, but again, can all this not wait for when the public coffers are overflowing? It’s no good government putting up taxes and cutting services on one hand and then on the other blowing millions on buildings we don’t really need. I know the council’s answer will be that this money is an investment in creating jobs, but many of these jobs will be in the public sector, when the real engine of recovery will come from an energised private sector and that needs lower taxes and less regulation to get it going.

Tim Newark, Bath TaxPayers’AllianceI recently visited Bath council’s self-congratulatory ‘Treasure and Transform’ exhibition on the city’s future. Aside from the amusingly pointless design fluff of comparing Bath to a gentleman’s shoe or cricket ball, the nitty-gritty of the exhibition seemed to reinforce a feeling that despite our belt-tightening times, Bath & NES council is determined to go on a spending spree with our money.

There is the £14 million devoted to redeveloping Bath station, but what exactly do we get for this? The southern entrance will be re-instated, a new civic square created and the development of the vaults into restaurants and other unspecified facilities. Are there not enough restaurants just a stone’s throw away (indeed cafés struggling to get business)? Is the space in front of the station not adequate enough? So that leaves an awful lot of money being spent on a new entrance.

Similarly, an undisclosed sum of money is being spent on supposedly much-needed improvements to Bath Abbey, including a multi-purpose space, whatever that means, a café for visitors (are there not enough nearby?), environmentally friendly heating, plus developing (yet again) the vaults for unspecified purposes. All very nice, but do we really need it? Both these projects are swallowing millions of local taxpayers’ money that could be spent on essential services, surely?

At Keynsham and Midsomer Norton we have £28.8 million being spent on new Community Resource Centres. All very pleasant if there was money going spare, but would anyone really miss these projects if they weren’t there? Then we have the re-building of Keynsham Town Hall with library and shops to create a ‘flagship building’, said a helpful advisor at the exhibition. Price unspecified, but again, can all this not wait for when the public coffers are overflowing? It’s no good government putting up taxes and cutting services on one hand and then on the other blowing millions on buildings we don’t really need. I know the council’s answer will be that this money is an investment in creating jobs, but many of these jobs will be in the public sector, when the real engine of recovery will come from an energised private sector and that needs lower taxes and less regulation to get it going.

Tim Newark, Bath TaxPayers’Alliance

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