New Council leader must rethink priorities for B&NES

The new Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council needs to urgently rethink the Administration’s priorities for the area, say opposition councillors.

B&NES Council will next month formally elect a new leader following the surprise resignation last week of Cllr Dine Romero, who has held the position since May 2019.

As a result of the shock resignation, the Council’s opposition Conservative Group is urging the Liberal Democrat Administration, and whoever is elected leader, to urgently reassess their skewed priorities for B&NES.

Their draconian plans to completely restrict access to Bath city centre will leave 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. They will also result in Blue Badge holders having to park in Council car parks rather than outside their homes.

Although the Conservative Group supports the principle of Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), and recognises the need to reduce pollution levels in Bath, the introduction of LTNs may result in the displacement of traffic to areas already congested, restrictions on movement for those with mobility problems and unnecessary obstacles for local businesses trying to return to normal as we begin to recover from the pandemic.

A lack of consultation over proposed Active Travel schemes and the decision to charge residents to recycle material at the Household Waste Recycling Centre could also have seriously detrimental effects of residents.

Environmental issues are important, and the Conservative Group welcomed the introduction last month of the Bath Clean Air Zone, which began its life under a Conservative Administration.

But the current Liberal Democrat Administration’s decision to prioritise dealing with environmental issues above post-pandemic economic recovery is, the Conservative Group says, a serious misjudgement which shows how hopelessly out of touch they are with the needs of residents.

Cllr Paul Myers, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “We were surprised to hear of the resignation of Cllr Romero after just two years as Leader of the Council, and we wish her well in future endeavours.

“However, far from offering an opportunity to Green Party elements in the Lib Dem camp to demand ever more extreme measures, this offers a perfect opportunity for the Administration to take stock and reflect upon the damage some of their policies are having on the people of Bath and North East Somerset.

“The misguided and dogmatic pursuit of their anti-motoring agenda along with policies that will see parking charges increase and new charges apply at the recycling centre will only be detrimental to residents and businesses.

“This at a time when the Council should be doing all it possibly can to support people as we begin to recover from the pandemic, while of course recognising the importance of the climate emergency.

“We are therefore calling on the Administration to rethink their policies for B&NES and the serious long-term consequences for residents and businesses of sacrificing the local economy and jobs in order to win the badge as the country’s premier Climate Emergency zealots.”