The Liberal Democrats in charge of Bath and North East Somerset Council have reached a “climax of incompetency” following a deluge of poor decision making.
The claim, made by B&NES Council’s opposition Conservative Group, comes after a number of controversial decisions have recently been made by the Lib Dem administration.
Despite declaring a Climate Emergency in March 2019, and an Ecological Emergency in July 2020, the administration has recently announced its intention to allow development on the ecologically sensitive Tufa Field site off Englishcombe Lane, despite initially promising to save the field.
The administration is also progressing with plans to build on green spaces such as Entry Hill and continuing with the roll-out of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, despite concerns from residents that they will increase congestion on main roads.
The administration recently decided to ban members of the public from speaking at public meetings if they failed to provide the full text of their speech beforehand. The consequences of this policy became clear when one local resident was barred from speaking because he had been providing humanitarian aid to the victims of war in Ukraine and, as a result, had been unable to write a speech beforehand.
This was called “the murder of democracy” by opponents and last month, after a cross-party campaign to oppose the measures, the administration ditched the policy.
This follows other U-turns the Lib Dems have performed in recent months, such as the decision to introduce car parking charges in Midsomer Norton and the attempt to charge people to recycle certain materials at the tip – dubbed the ‘Tip Tax’.
Other recent examples of the administration’s incompetency include being too slow to fix the safety issues on Keynsham High Street which have landed some residents in hospital, tabling proposals to increase car parking charges in Keynsham and their support for a proposed development in the ecologically protected Cotswold AONB.
And this week, with the Cleveland Bridge repair works still ongoing, the administration’s poor handling of the project could see it overrun by almost a full year, with one Lib Dem cabinet member saying it could be October before the bridge is able to open to two-way traffic.
Earlier this week Cllr Kevin Guy, the Lib Dem Leader of B&NES Council, said Bath needs its own tourist information centre. But it was the Lib Dems who took the controversial decision to close down Visit Bath, the city’s designated tourist management company.
Cllr Vic Pritchard, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “Recent decisions made by the administration add up to a climax of incompetency.
“The Lib Dems lurch from one bad decision to another, all the time completely oblivious to the harm they are doing to the council’s reputation and to Bath and North East Somerset.
“By banning residents from speaking at public meetings, allowing development on the Tufa Field, progressing with controversial Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods, failing to get a handle on the Cleveland Bridge repair works and being slow to respond to safety issues on Keynsham High Street the administration has badly let down residents, businesses and tourists.
“You would struggle to find an administration from any council across the country with a catalogue of failure as extensive as this.”