Sign of the times as council opts to remove finger posts in Bath
A tourist attraction boss has responded angrily to the removal of finger post signs which direct people around the city.
Bath and North East Somerset Council is taking them all down and replacing them with a system of “monolith” maps instead.
Phil Andrews, who owns the Chapel Arts Centre and is co-director of the Jane Austen Centre, said the new maps were not as good at directing people to the key tourist spots.
He said: “The signs are brilliant. We immediately noticed a difference when they went up.
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“The maps are very useful but they are not a replacement for signs. You can only get two or three people around one of the maps, but you could 30 or 40 people looking at signs, and the signs are far easier to use.
“The council never consults on these things, or if they do, they don’t talk to the people that count. Everybody is struggling these days and we need people to be able to find us easily.”
Mr Andrews added that the Jane Austen Centre opened after the signs were erected but paid £4,500 ten years ago to have 30 £150 signs added.
But a B&NES spokesman said there were now 33 maps around the city and they were already working well.
He said: “The council has received excellent feedback about the maps which provide people with a clear sense of their surroundings and enable them to explore and experience the hidden streets and the alleyways of the city and to appreciate the breadth and number of attractions on offer.
“The intention has always been to replace the existing finger posts with the new City Information System as part of our plan to declutter the streets of signage – a small number of finger posts will be kept on the edge of the city centre where the map monoliths are not present.”
This view was backed by Caroline Kay, chief executive of the Bath Preservation Trust, who said that once the maps were in place the signs had to go as part of a bid to reduce street clutter.
She added: “I am not convinced that the finger posts were very good at directing visitors round town – feedback was that the city was very ‘hard to read’ and the maps are attempting to remedy this.”
The chief executive of Bath Tourism Plus Nick Brooks-Sykes said: “Bath is a very walkable city and therefore we should be making it as easy as possible for visitors to find their way around.
“The new monoliths are one of the ways that visitors can orientate themselves, whilst the new, free to download Bath App is another.
“The current finger posts are in a poor state of repair and certainly need to be reviewed.
“We know from visitor research that the finger posts are an effective way of informing visitors: it remains to be seen whether the monoliths alone will be as effective.”
Visitor Sandra Downey from Cardiff said: “We didn’t really use the maps as we found our own way around by just wandering. We didn’t use the old signposts either but it would be a shame to get rid of them.”