Risk of charges to cross the Cumberland Basin

Members of Chew Valley Chamber of Commerce talked about the possible impact of the Clean Air Zone in Bristol at their latest zoom meeting. Plans are being developed for a scheme which would mean cars from the Chew Valley using the Cumberland Bridge and the A4 Portway being charged even if they weren’t going into the congested and polluted City centre.


Some immediately spotted one solution which would involve de-touring through Barrow Gurney and joining the M5 at Gordano. But of course that wouldn’t help people such as farmers who would fall foul of weight restrictions and in any case, as one member pointed out, the object of the exercise is not to have people making even longer journeys and so producing higher levels of emissions.


It doesn’t look as though this issue has registered as yet with members of staff who drive to work in the Chew Valley from Bristol but it could have an impact on them and we’ll keep an eye on developments.


Our zoom meetings aren’t as good as the normal face to face variety but they still help people stay in contact and it’s always interesting to hear how businesses are coping in the current situation.


What seems clear is that whilst some businesses have unfortunately closed down during the last year, many are still doing well. A book keeper reported a doubling in the number of clients whilst a solicitor said they had taken a little while to re-organise but they had adapted and were handling a steady flow of work. They expected more flexible working practices would remain in the long term, with a combination of home and office working becoming their norm.


An accountant has changed the way they work by making more use of online services but they remain concerned about the impacts still to be felt when furlough arrangements eventually come to an end.


But overall, I think I can sense a spirit of optimism. Sheep prices are rising which is good news for farmers, bookings are coming in to the providers of self catering accommodation and whilst a new member, who is in financial planning, had a slow start to his first year in businesses, he’s seen an upturn since November, which bodes well for the rest of this year.


Finally, Chew Valley Arts Trail was done wholly on line last year and it’s not easy to predict how things will be in October, so I am considering how it could best be run this year. It may need to be a hybrid model, with some people opening their studios whilst others stay online. I’ll keep you informed !

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