Cabinet urged to rethink ‘harmful’ traffic schemes

The B&NES Liberal Democrats must rethink their plans for Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods, Conservative councillors say.

It comes ahead of a crunch Cabinet meeting next week (23 June) in which proposals to introduce Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) will be taken forward.

LTNs are a key part of the Lib Dem administration’s Liveable Neighbourhoods policy. The aim, they say, is to reduce overall traffic on the roads of Bath and North East Somerset.

But Conservative councillors say the measures will lead to higher levels of congestion and pollution and will result in residents with mobility problems being disproportionally affected.

Cllr Vic Pritchard, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “Next week’s Cabinet meeting will be crucial as we will finally learn which schemes the administration intends to take forward as Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods.

“Although we sympathise with the principle of LTNs, we are concerned that problems that have been reported with them in other parts of the country will also emerge here. These include higher levels of pollution and congestion caused by displaced traffic, unfair restrictions on peoples’ freedom of movement and delays to emergency service vehicles.

“Residents and businesses across the district have serious concerns about the consequences of these schemes, and the Conservative Group is calling on the Lib Dem Cabinet to heed these concerns and rethink what could be extremely harmful policies.”

At a meeting of the Council’s Climate Emergency Scrutiny Panel last week, it was revealed that LTNs in Bath will not be scrapped even if they are initially disastrous.

In September 2020 in the London borough of Ealing, a protest against LTNs was attended by around 2,500 people, with more than 10,000 people having signed a petition objecting to them.

In October, Harrow Council introduced four LTNs. Six months later, they were all removed on account of causing higher levels of congestion and pollution and delaying emergency service vehicles.

Following calls by the B&NES Conservatives for a rethink, the administration last month agreed to pause their plans to restrict access to Bath city centre.

The Conservative Group hopes the administration will heed its warning over Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods and once again puts the brake on the policy.

Cabinet will meet to discuss the proposals at 6.30pm on Wednesday 23 June.