Wednesday, 31 December 2008

My predictions for Bath in 2009

This is an edited version of my column from the Bath Chronicle printed on January 1 2009

Bath's crystal ball....

It is time, once again, for me to delve into my crystal ball and wonder what the year ahead will mean to Bath . I have done my Nostradamus act in my Bath Chronicle column for two or three years now and had a pretty good ‘success rate’ at predicting things to be honest.
That is with one major exception.
So, let me start there.
For the past two years I have predicted that the arguments about The Rec would be solved and we would finally have a decision about the permanent home of Bath Rugby. And on both occasions I have been wrong.
Well, adopting the totally unproven theory of ‘third time lucky’ I am going to do it again.
For I am now more confident than ever that another Christmas will not pass before we know for definite where Bath Rugby will finally be able to lay their hat.
There has been much to-ing and fro-ing behind the scenes and I detect that we are within touching distance of a decision. My head and my heart still wants Bath Rugby to stay at The Rec but if there is even a hint of any more long-term delays, I think they should move – simple as that.
The club needs to secure its position once and for all – and I am predicting that in 2009 it will do so.Still with Bath Rugby I am also predicting even more good things on the pitch. Our newly crowned Chronicle Team of the Year had a fantastic 2008 and are rightly seen as the most entertaining team in club rugby in the UK.
Next year we would love to see them win another trophy – either a league title or cup, I am, not fussy – and I am predicting they will do so. Still with sport, I am confident TeamBath will secure a play-off spot in their league and don’t rule out a late surge from Bath City either. They have been a bit inconsistent in recent months but when they are good they are very good, and don’t be surprised if they make a charge into the play-offs in the months to come.
Away from the sporting field, I think no one is denying that 2009 could be a very tough year for our city in economic terms. Dire warning follows dire warning on the national news programmes, but Bath has a lot of its business infrastructure right and also has the spirit and the management skills to really hit back. We will be launching our own campaign shortly to lead that fight but no one should deny that 2009 will see a fair bit of upheaval.
Above all, we will all need to keep our nerve . . .
What will help Bath is that there are a couple of major improvements to the city which will come to fruition. SouthGate will open its doors for the first phase of shops in the autumn (and I predict it may even be earlier, looking at the speed of the work being done) and before then we will see the new bus station up and running. The debate about the ‘busometer’ will grow again at that time I imagine, but I predict few will be disappointed with the station which should be first class.
Elsewhere I believe that the longest running Bath soap opera – the Western Riverside project – will FINALLY begin. There have been more stops and starts than in a tennis match over this, but I believe we are tantalisingly close to the end of the fifth set now, and I am predicting that in 2009, the Bath Western Riverside project will kick off. I am also pretty certain that despite the fantastic community-led opposition to it, the Bath Transportation Package will also hit the road but I wouldn’t rule out some late compromises to try to bring more of the public on board.
So there is my snapshot of 2009 predictions. I believe the year will be economically tough but on the plus side, The Rec will be sorted, Western Riverside will begin, SouthGate will open, we will have a great new bus station and our main sports teams will all have something to cheer about. See, 2009 doesn’t look so bad now, does it?
Happy New Year everyone......

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