Councillors in Bath and North East Somerset have backed calls for a 6-month limit to be put on a trial bus lane due to be implemented on Bath’s Dorchester Street next week.
At a B&NES Full Council meeting on Thursday, 16th January, councillors voted to support the Conservative proposal, which also asks the authority to spell out the criteria by which the bus gate will be deemed a success and bring the issue back to councillors for further debate at the end of the trial period.
An attempt by the authority’s ruling Liberal Democrats to water down the proposal was thrown out by councillors.
Conservative councillors have criticised the Council for failing to properly explain what it hopes to achieve from introducing the bus lane, which will be in operation from 10am to 6pm seven days a week on the street’s east-bound carriageway. Concerns have also been raised over the impact the bus gate could have on traffic and pollution on nearby roads, with the Council’s traffic modelling suggesting that up to 160 cars an hour could be displaced onto the A36 and a further 130 pushed onto North Parade.
At one point during the debate, Liberal Democrat Councillor Roger Symonds, who was the Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport when the bus gate was first proposed, admitted that it was a “half-baked scheme”.
Conservative shadow transport spokesman, Cllr Anthony Clarke (Lansdown), proposed the motion at the Council meeting. Following the meeting, he said:
“We’re obviously very pleased that our calls for a 6-month limit on the Bus Gate trial were ultimately a success. It’s just a shame the Lib Dems tried to scupper it and instead push on ahead with their plans.
“Residents are fed up with the Council’s piecemeal approach to transport projects. This lack of joined-up thinking is only shifting traffic problems from one place to another and making congestion worse.
“Therefore, what we’ve asked for is for the effect of the bus gate in terms of traffic and pollution to be properly monitored, and for the matter to be looked at again by councillors before a final decision is taken on making it permanent.”
City centre councillor Brian Webber (Cons, Abbey), who seconded the Conservative motion, added:
“Residents in the city centre don’t feel that their concerns over this bus gate have been listened to by B&NES. At least now the Council will need to undertake this trial properly, with some measurable objectives set against which the success or failure of the bus gate can be judged. I also hope the Council will more fully consult residents on their views of the bus gate before deciding whether to make it permanent.”