Conservatives challenge Dorchester Street bus gate

Conservative councillors have launched an official challenge to plans by Bath and North East Somerset Council to create a new bus gate on Dorchester Street in Bath.

Conservative councillors have used the Council’s ‘call-in’ procedure to trigger a review of the decision taken by the authority’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet.

The call-in means that a cross-party panel of councillors will be convened to review the decision and decide whether or not to ask the Cabinet to rethink their plans. No date has yet been set for the call-in hearing, but council rules state it must take place within fourteen days of the call-in being submitted.

The Liberal Democrat-run Council wants to introduce a new eastbound bus lane on Dorchester Street, which will operate between the hours of 10am and 6pm.

However, Conservative councillors have criticised the plan, warning of increased congestion on the A36 through Widcombe and arguing that the experiment should not go ahead before the Rossiter Road project is completed.

Conservatives have also launched a petition calling on the council to halt the proposals, which councillors plan to present at the call-in hearing and residents can sign online at www.bathconservativesurveys.com.

Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Tim Warren, said:

“Going around randomly closing off roads will not solve Bath’s congestion problem, it simply pushes the traffic elsewhere. In this case, closing Dorchester Street will result in a major increase in traffic using the A36 and North Parade, especially at peak times.

“We’re challenging this decision because it has been poorly thought-through, there has been a lack of consultation, and it is not part of a proper strategy to improve transport and traffic flows in the city. The council should go back to the drawing board and reconsider the idea once the Rossiter Road project is complete.”

City centre councillor Brian Webber (Cons, Abbey), commented:

“There seems to be no clear logic to the Lib Dems’ plans for Dorchester Street. It will hardly become a pedestrian paradise, as walkers will still have to contend with all the buses, taxis and westbound traffic. We also have no idea by what criteria the council will deem it a success at the end of the eighteen month trial.

“At the same time, the Cabinet made a last minute decision to change the end time of the bus lane from 4pm to 6pm for no apparent reason, claiming 4pm in the published report to have been a typing error.”