In March 2012, the B&NES parks department manager responsible for Alexandra Park reported that he had had a second approach from a company interested in the possibility of running a café in Alexandra Park and asked for the views of the Forum. At it’s meeting in April, the Forum volunteers committee decided that this was an issue that should be put to the whole community to determine. As this would take time, the chair wrote to inform the council that it would not be able to give it views till later in the summer.
In June, a questionnaire was distributed to over 2000 properties in the area surrounding the Park (annex A). The questionnaire was also put on the Alexandra Park web site together with an outline provided by the company interested in running a café of the sort of arrangements that they might propose (annex B) and details of the company web site. The distributed questionnaire did not include this information but referred people to the Forum’s web site for more information.
At the annual public meeting of the Alexandra Park Forum on 14th June, it was suggested that all those voting should have had easy access to the additional information as it could influence how they voted. To meet this suggestion, all those who had replied were sent an e-mail with the additional information. No one chose to amend their vote.
The questionnaire was also available at the Forum’s ‘Picnic-in the-Park’ on 1 July. This version included the additional information.
Number of replies – 126 (56 by e-mail, 70 by completed form)
Number of people represented by those replies – 151 (71 by e-mail, 80 by completed form)
Restricted opening 12
No license to sell alcohol 12
Parking/traffic controls 11
Site of building 9
Control of noise/no music 8
Litter/waste management 5
Type of food 3
Building design 3
Not exclusive 3
Small scale 3
Improved toilets 2
Control of seating 1
Review after 5 years 1
Family orientated 1
Open tender 1
3. Views of other entities that participate in the Forum
a. Bowls Club
The Bowls Club are generally in favour of having a café in the park which may bring more people into the park and, they hope, provide them with the opportunity to interest visitors in the game of bowls and to recruit new members.
However, they have a number of concerns relating to the building used, electricity and water supplies, drainage and sewerage disposal, car parking, deliveries, proximity to green (noise) and products to be sold (smell).
b. Petanque Club
The City of Bath Petanque Club would welcome the opportunity to have refreshments in the park.
c. Beechen Cliff School
The headmaster has concerns over boys being in the park to use the café (one probably shared by the teaching staff in general). Nevertheless, he would support the idea of refreshments being available to users of the area as there are obvious advantages in terms of enhancing the experience, provided that the school will not be called in to ‘police’ the area.
d. Allotments association
The representative reported that the people he canvassed were broadly positive, although one person was worried about litter and liked the park as it is; she felt a cafe would make it a less tranquil place.
e. Zest Boot Camp
The owner of the boot camp that operates in the Park is against a café even though she can see some benefit. She thinks that the park should be left as it.
4. Discussion of results
- 2000 questionnaire were delivered to every house within the immediate area. In addition, the questionnaire was available on the Alexandra Park web site and on the Alexandra Park Forum stand at the ‘Picnic-in the-Park’ event on 1st July. The number of replies (126 replies representing 151 people) is a reasonable response. Although one cannot say with certainty that it represents the views of the whole community, it is reasonable to assume that, given the wide circulation of the questionnaire, it is representative of those who are concerned about this issue.
- The results do not vary greatly according to the basis on which they were counted (the number of replies or the number of people represented (some replies made it clear that they were from two people)).
- The results do not vary greatly according to the method of reply (e-mail or completed questionnaire).
- Apart from one, the other entities that participate in the Forum are in favour or not opposed to the idea of a café in Alexandra Park.
- No attempt was made to analyse the views of sub-sets of the people who responded to the questionnaire because insufficient additional information was collected, although there is a view that more of those living close to the park are opposed.
5. Key findings
Of those who voted –
- A majority is in favour of the provision of a café in Alexandra Park (66% of people replying said ‘Yes’ or ‘Yes, with conditions’ against 34% replying ‘No’.)
- Among those supporting a café, there is a near even split on whether conditions should be applied to any license to operate a café (34% said yes unconditionally against 32% who want conditions).
- If one assumes that the ‘No’ voters would support the imposition of conditions if a café was considered, overall there is a majority in favour of conditions being applied to any license (66% said ‘Yes, conditionally’ or ‘No’ against 34% who said ‘Yes unconditionally’).
- The most frequently mentioned conditions were –
I. Restricted opening hours;
II. No license to sell alcohol;
III. Parking/traffic controls;
IV. Site of building, and
V. Control of noise/no music
- Apart from one, the other park ‘stakeholders’ are in favour or not opposed to the idea of a café in Alexandra Park.
A majority of the community that use or care about Alexandra Park are in favour of there being some form of a café in the park but only subject to the imposition of conditions set out in paragraph 5 (d) above to ensure that it did not alter its character or disturb its tranquillity.
It was not determined whether there are different views among subsets of the community.
Apart from one, the other entities participating in the Forum are in favour, or not opposed to, the idea of a café in Alexandra Park.