Coaches have been banned from parading tourists through one of Bath’s most iconic Georgian streets.
The intervention follows a 20-year campaign by the Circus Area Residents Association (CARA) after the vehicles were displaced from the Royal Crescent.
Under the experimental new order, unauthorised coaches will be banned from The Circus and the surrounding area.
The city’s open-top sight-seeing buses will still be able to use the route, as will buses and coaches with a legitimate reason.
CARA vice chairman Richard Brown said: “We’re delighted it’s coming in. We’re happy the council has responded to our concerns. It’s all about enforcement.
“We want tourists to stop off in the city rather than just drive around it.
“It’s been quite a long time coming. We’ve been working on it for just over 20 years, since the ban on coaches in the Royal Crescent in 1999.
“The Royal Crescent Society were getting a lot of problems in the 80s and 90s. It took them 18 years to get a ban.
“It had a knock-on effect. Coaches came to The Circus and the surrounding streets, many of which are quite narrow.
“Four hundred different coach companies use our streets. It’s increased traffic flow and caused parking problems. They park illegally and create pollution that discolours the historic buildings and affects residents’ health.
“Many coaches drop off tourists in the area. They aren’t used to British traffic flows and we see a lot of close calls. We’ve seen coaches going the wrong way around The Circus.
“The ban is something residents and the residents association have campaigned on for years.”
Mr Brown said the council almost implemented a traffic order six years ago that would have banned coaches from the Circus, and made Gay Street one way, but “for whatever reason” it was never implemented.
He said heritage cities across Europe were recognising the impact uncontrolled coach tours were having, and were clamping down.
Mr Brown said coaches typically drive through Bath and on to Bradford-on-Avon or Stonehenge but the ban will encourage them to drop off passengers at the Odd Down park and ride.
He hopes the result will be that they spend more money in the city, saying: “Unless they get off the coach, Bath doesn’t benefit. We want our city to be a healthy, vibrant society.
“We want the tourist dollar.”
The ban is in place all day, every day, along the entire lengths of Gay Street, The Circus, Upper Church Street, Crescent Lane, Gloucester Street, Rivers Street, Russell Street, Bennett Street, Circus Place, River Street Mews, Catherine Place, Brock Street and Royal Crescent.
It is an experimental order that could be made permanent.
A B&NES Council spokesperson said: “We have responded to CARA. A relatively large number of unofficial tour buses and coaches are entering the area so their passengers can view and/or take photographs of the historic properties in The Circus.
“These vehicles often do several circuits of The Circus, or stop in the middle of the road with their engines running.
“The experimental order seeks to deter unauthorised tour coaches and buses from being driven around The Circus, but it will not prevent buses or coaches from picking-up and dropping-off passengers at the Assembly Rooms and the various hotels and museums in the roads covered by the restriction.
“In other words, buses and coaches with a legitimate reason to access commercial premises within the restriction will be exempt.”
Peasedown’s Arleen Coaches is among the firms with a legitimate reason for driving through The Circus, so it should not be affected.
Operations manager Colin Inman said companies from further afield cause the worst problems and will be impacted – but they will all be hit hard when the £100 a day charge is introduced for buses and coaches to enter Bath’s clean air zone.
“It’s going to affect every business in Bath,” said Mr Inman. “It’s going to stop a lot of tourists coming to Bath. It’s going to stop a lot of trade.
He said London coach companies will not use the Odd Down park and ride because they run to a tight schedule and have to reach their next destination.
It will also impact on school trips and universities organising events in the city, he said, and claimed B&NES Council will expand the charges to cars when it is not an election year.
“In a couple of years, Bath will be a ghost town,” Mr Inman warned.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter