Conservatives call on Council to scrap Bath ‘ring of steel’

Draconian plans to build a ‘ring of steel’ around Bath city centre must be scrapped immediately, Conservative councillors have said.

It follows the publication last week of an independent access report and the findings of a public consultation, both of which clearly show how damaging the proposed measures will be to residents and businesses in Bath.

The proposals involve restricting access to the city centre 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week for 365 days-a-year. They also involve erecting new reinforced bollards and anti-terror street furniture at numerous places in the city centre.

These unnecessary measures will leave city centre residents unable to park their cars outside their properties, receive deliveries to their doors or be dropped off at their doorsteps by taxis late at night.

The restrictions will also result in Blue Badge holders having to park in Council car parks rather than outside their homes.

The independent access report, published this week, questions the “reasonableness of excluding vehicles used for the purposes of enabling access” and states that the increased distance from points of arrival to destinations would result in some people “having to endure pain for longer and at higher levels”.

The report also makes it clear that using barriers and hurdles to prevent people from gaining access to city centre locations can significantly affect peoples’ wellbeing, and that increasing the distances between points of arrival to destinations will lead to people with toilet access-related needs not risking a journey.

Of the 522 people who responded to the consultation, around 60% were against the proposals.

One respondent, who is currently shielding, explained the negative psychological implications of not being able to access the city centre after having had to live in isolation for so long due to COVID-19.

Another said: “The purpose of a Blue Badge is that it allows 2.5 million people to maintain their independence. The proposals do not promote independent living. These proposals remove independence from disabled people.”

As a result of these findings, the Conservatives on Bath and North East Somerset Council are urging the Liberal Democrat Administration to scrap the plans immediately and apologise to residents and businesses for the anxiety they have caused.

Cllr Karen Warrington, Conservative councillor on Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “We’ve been warning the Liberal Democrat Administration of the problems with these draconian plans for Bath city centre since they were first tabled.

“It’s now crystal clear just how much people will suffer if these measures go ahead, simply to appease the Lib Dems’ anti-motoring impulses. “We are therefore calling on the Administration to withdraw these plans immediately and apologise to the people of Bath for tabling, at great cost to the taxpayer, such ill-thought out proposals in the first place.”