The Conservatives on Bath and North East Somerset Council have accused the ruling Liberal Democrats of using the threat of terrorism to justify forcing their anti-motoring agenda on the residents of Bath.
The Council’s Liberal Democrat Administration is currently consulting on proposals to restrict access to the city centre 24 hours a day, seven days-a-week for 365 days a year.
They also want to erect new reinforced bollards and anti-terror street furniture at numerous places in the city centre.
These unprecedented and draconian steps 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 draconian restrictions will also result in Blue Badge holders having to park in Council car parks rather than outside their homes. Given a person is eligible for a Blue Badge if they cannot walk more than 50 metres, the Conservatives believe that, as a result, this policy will have a devastating impact on the lives of people with mobility issues.
Only in a window from 6pm to 10am is it being proposed that vehicles delivering and collecting from shops and businesses will be allowed to access the city centre. But the Conservatives say this time slot is far too small and will create unnecessary difficulties for businesses at what is already a tough trading time.
The Administration claims the measures are necessary to prevent terrorists using motor vehicles as weapons to target pedestrians at busy times. But the opposition Conservative Group has pointed out that terrorists could just as easily target people using motorcycles, bicycles or, quite simply, while on foot.
Questioning the timing of the proposals, the Conservatives have pointed out that although the UK terror threat level is currently ‘severe’, there have only been four instances since 2006 (when the threat levels were first published by MI5) where the threat level has been below ‘severe’. If these measures haven’t been necessary for the past 15 years, there is no reason to believe they are necessary now.
Councillor Paul Myers, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “The Conservatives on the Council, along with many residents, have serious concerns about these draconian proposals for our city centre.
“With the UK economy facing a double-dip recession and the mammoth task of recovering from the COVID pandemic approaching, we should not be implementing measures that could seriously hamper businesses and the Bath economy.
“The Liberal Democrats are using the terrorism threat to further their well-publicised anti-motoring agenda and have not properly considered the consequences of these proposals for residents and businesses.”