‘Halt trial and cancel fines’ – Conservatives call for end to Dorchester Street Bus Gate farce

Conservative councillors are demanding that Bath and North East Somerset Council to call a halt to the Dorchester Street Bus Gate trial and tear up or refund any fines issued to date.

Conservatives have said that the new Bus Gate has become a ‘pointless farce’ which is damaging Bath’s reputation as a destination for visitors, tourists and business.

The Council’s opposition Conservative Group, which campaigned against the Bus Gate’s introduction, has warned that the Liberal Democrat-run Council needs to put a stop to the trial as soon as possible before further damage is done to the city’s image and economy.

They have said that the if the Council were to re-start the trial at a later date it should only be as part of a wider strategic approach to transport in the city rather, and following a full review of the signage and road markings for the Bus Gate.

The Conservative calls come after it was revealed that B&NES was set to raise over £250,000 in fines in just one month after nearly 9,000 drivers were caught breaching the Bus Gate.

Conservative Shadow Transport spokesman, Cllr Anthony Clarke (Cons, Lansdown), said:

“The Dorchester Street Bus Gate has descended into a complete farce which is damaging Bath’s reputation as a destination for visitors, shoppers and business, and as a result causing immeasurable harm to our local economy.

“More and more people, including local residents, are now saying they would rather go and spend their money elsewhere rather than risk further fines or hefty parking charges by coming into the centre of Bath.

“The Council’s Lib Dem leadership was warned time and again that their botched handling of the Bus Gate would cause resentment amongst residents. Even the former Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Transport admitted it was a ‘half-baked scheme’, yet they ploughed on regardless.

“In order to salvage some of its reputation, and in the interests of fairness to the thousands of motorists caught unawares, the Council now needs to call an immediate halt to the Bus Gate trial, tear up the fines issued so far, and refund any money already received. By calling a moratorium in this way, it will save B&NES the time and effort of dealing with and assessing all the countless appeals which have been streaming in.”

City-centre Councillor Brian Webber (Cons, Abbey), who seconded a motion at a Council meeting in January which called for the Bus Gate trial to be limited to a maximum of six months, commented:

“The fact that so many drivers have been going through the Bus Gate in its first three months makes the trial completely pointless and any findings from it worthless. It simply won’t be possible to assess the impact on other routes such as the A36 and North Parade when so many cars are still using Dorchester Street.

“By halting the trial, this would give the Council breathing space to properly review the signage and road markings and consider whether it is worthwhile continuing with this idea.”