Lib Dems reject Dorchester Street bus gate review

A bid to halt to plans to create a new bus gate on Dorchester Street in Bath has been blocked by Liberal Democrat councillors.

Conservative councillors had called on Bath and North East Somerset Council to rethink its plans for a new eastbound bus lane on the city centre street, raising concerns over the amount of traffic which will be displaced onto nearby roads.

Conservatives had used the Council’s ‘call-in’ procedure to challenge the proposals by referring the Liberal Democrat Cabinet’s decision to a cross-party committee of councillors.

However, at a meeting of the Council’s Planning, Transport and Environment scrutiny committee last Tuesday councillors voted not to ask the Cabinet to reconsider its plans, with the panel’s four Liberal Democrat councillors joining together to vote down the panel’s three Conservatives.

This means the Liberal Democrat Cabinet can now press on with the idea, which will see the new bus lane in operation between 10am and 6pm each day for an eighteen month trial period.

Conservatives have said they are disappointed with the result, having argued that the new bus gate will add to traffic on the already congested A36 through Widcombe, whilst producing little benefit for pedestrians and cyclists using Dorchester Street.

Conservative Group Leader and the Group’s Transport Spokesman, Cllr Tim Warren, who led the call-in, commented:

“The problem with the Council’s plan for Dorchester Street is that it won’t do anything to cut congestion; it will simply push more traffic onto nearby roads. North Parade and the A36 through Widcombe, in particular, will suffer as a result of this new bus gate, with an extra 160 cars an hour projected to be displaced onto the A36 at peak times.

“The Lib Dems have shown a complete unwillingness to listen to the concerns of residents over these plans. At the very least the idea should be shelved until the Rossiter Road project has been completed and a wider Transport Strategy produced. Our one hope is that the new Cabinet Member for Transport, Caroline Roberts, will be more willing to listen and will rethink these plans once she has taken up her post.”

City centre councillor Brian Webber (Cons, Abbey), who supported the call-in, added:

“This part-time, eastbound only bus lane on Dorchester Street will cause significant disruption whilst producing little benefit. It will add to traffic on other already heavily congested roads and make it more difficult for city centre residents to access their homes. Yet pedestrians and cyclists will still have to contend with all the westbound traffic on Dorchester Street as well as the eastbound buses, taxis and coaches which will still be able to use the road. There seems to be no clear logic to this idea at all.”