The B&NES Conservative Group has today outlined plans to solve the congestion problems that blight Bath.
It follows successive weekends of complete gridlock in the city centre, with some motorists stuck in traffic for hours on end.
Cllr Vic Pritchard, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, has teamed up with local residents and colleagues in the Bath Conservative Association to draw up plans to get traffic moving again.
The plans have been split into short term, medium term and long term aspirations.
In the short term, the Conservative Group is calling for:
- Negotiations to open with utility companies to seek a temporary halt to all roadworks during busy periods at least until Cleveland Bridge has fully reopened
- Park and ride services to be made free at weekends and, during the week, to charge by the vehicle rather than the number of passengers
- The easing of temporary road restrictions until Cleveland Bridge has fully reopened
In the medium term:
- Intensive discussions to start with the city’s major employers and generators of traffic to investigate alternative transport arrangements for staff and visitors, including dedicates shuttle buses from park and ride sites
- Plans to introduce Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods to be put on hold to avoid displacing traffic to roads that are already at full capacity
In the long term:
- Negotiations to begin with neighbouring authorities, WECA and central government to impress the urgent need to redesign the strategic road network to divert through-traffic away from Bath
A major contributor to the current congestion problems is the ongoing work by Wessex Water to divert a sewer near Avon Street car park to allow work to start on the Bath Quays North development. After the B&NES Liberal Democrat administration initially said this was nothing to do with them, it was revealed last week that Wessex Water was acting on the express instruction of the council.
The Conservative Group is calling for this work to be temporarily put on hold until Cleveland Bridge had reopened in order to reduce pressure on the road network.
Alarmingly, members of the Lib Dem administration have previously indicated that traffic chaos in Bath is desirable, claiming that increased levels of congestion “will allow new travel habits to evolve”.
This, the Conservatives say, is completely the wrong approach, and will result in Bath being permanently gridlocked.
Cllr Pritchard said: “For a number of weeks now, Bath has been at a complete standstill at weekends. Last weekend, one resident said that an eight-minute journey ended up taking three hours.
“This level of disruption on the roads is extremely damaging, with residents left feeling like prisoners in their own city, completely unable to move around.
“To be clear – such traffic chaos is exactly what the current Liberal Democrat administration appears to want for Bath. Cllr Sarah Warren recently gave a frank admission that congestion on this scale is desirable because it will force people to abandon their cars and take up walking and cycling instead.
“But people will not change their behaviour in the way that Cllr Warren thinks because they need to be able to get about. Although we encourage the use of active travel, it’s not practical to expect everybody to cycle or walk around hilly Bath.
“We believe these proposed measures will go some way towards reducing pressure on the road network and we call on the administration to begin taking them forward at the earliest opportunity.”