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Snapshot confirms picture of the Valley

Bath and North East Somerset Council is currently developing an Economic Strategy for the district. Working out what needs to be done to ensure long term economic success, helping businesses to thrive, providing good jobs for residents and so producing a vibrant community.


They have used a variety of data sources, including the 2021 Census which provides a useful snapshot. It’s not perfect but better than just relying on guesswork. The information has been broken down by ward, in our case combining the two wards that make up the Chew Valley. I love nothing better than poring through statistics and these tell an interesting, though perhaps not too surprising a story. It certainly provides food for thought about what our local economy needs in the years to come.


When it comes to the workforce, we find there are almost as many retired people as there are those in full time paid employment – that’s 1,385 retirees compared with 1,427 full time employees. Having said that, a further 700 work part time and virtually the same number are self-employed, which explains why almost half of work is done mainly from home and only 1.5% travel more than 40kms to work.


Overall we know that rural businesses make a significant contribution to economic activity in Bath and North East Somerset.


In the Chew Valley the census says we have an ageing, though relatively healthy population. Up to the age of 19 the proportion of the local population is in line with the district average. But it falls sharply for the 20 – 24 age group and it doesn’t get back to the average until 35 – 39 and it exceeds it after that. When it comes to disabilities, we sit mid-table for district at 14%. Twerton is the highest with 25%.


To find the reason for that age picture you only need to look at the figures for housing. Out of the 2,379 households in the Chew Valley no fewer than 1,354 are detached houses, which is an amazing 57%. That’s by some distance the highest percentage in the district, coming above Saltford on 51% and Mendip on 49%. The overall average is 22%.


Just look at the property pages and estimate what an average detached house costs and it’s no wonder we don’t have many 20 or early 30-year-olds.


Another important factor is the lack of public transport. Residents have responded by investing in cars and the figures show 95% of households have access to a vehicle. In fact, 41% have two cars and 22% have three. Once again that puts us top of the league table in that category.


So what does all this suggest that we need for a more sustainable economically successful future ? More affordable homes and better public transport – no surprise there !


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