Chamber membership remains strong
It’s that time of year when we’ve asked our existing members to renew and it’s pleasing to see that virtually all have paid their subscriptions alongside a number of newcomers. They appreciate the opportunity the Chamber of Commerce provides to meet up and socialise with other local businesses in the Chew Valley but they also value our efforts in representing their interests, which sets us apart.
For many years we have called on the local Council, the Combined Authority and National Government to provide the funding which would establish a reliable and affordable bus into our local cities or at the least a regular link from the Valley to join up with the main arterial bus routes. That would allow at least some staff and customers to access our businesses and also enable young people to get into their local cities to work without using a car.
We have never succeeded in achieving that, mainly because this is a numbers game and we simply don’t have enough people to provide sufficient demand for a commercial service. Further reductions in services are being made this month and the big investment in public transport is being concentrated on moving people in and around large urban areas, like Bristol, which I acknowledge makes hard-nosed business sense.
Any regular and sustainable rural service is bound to need a subsidy from the public purse, but without it we will continue to be a car driving population. As people will see, the local roads are busier with cars and tradespeople in vans since the introduction of the Clean Air Zone in Bristol.
The latest plans to make up for the loss of bus services include a beefed-up dial-a-ride, now called Demand Responsive Transport (DRT). The theory is you ring up or make a booking on an app and a vehicle will arrive to take you where you want to go, when you want to go, albeit with what could be up to a 1 hour waiting time. However, there still seems to be uncertainty about which areas will be covered by DRT and helpful though this will certainly be for some individuals, it does not provide anything like the service we really need.
The Metro Mayor has also announced communities can bid into a £2m fund to create their own services to meet local need. Any funding is of course welcome, but this amount is not only to cover Bath and North East Somerset, but the whole of the West of England, which means Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire will also be putting forward their own claims. In short, that money will not go very far.
We can only applaud the amount of business going on in the rural areas by a wide range of people as our roads see much of that traffic. We usually do all we can to look on the bright side, but when it comes to public transport in the Chew Valley it looks as though the picture is bleak and that is unlikely to change any time soon.
If you would like to find out more about Chew Valley Chamber of Commerce have a look at our website: www.chewvalleychamber.co.uk