Traffic plans show Lib Dems are asleep at the wheel

The B&NES Liberal Democrats’ inept traffic policies show they are asleep at the wheel, Conservative councillors say.

It follows last night’s (23 June) Cabinet meeting in which the Lib Dem administration approved the roll-out of a number of Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) across Bath and North East Somerset.

LTNs are a key part of the Lib Dem administration’s Liveable Neighbourhoods policy, the aim of which, they say, is to reduce overall traffic levels and to discourage what they call “unnecessary car ownership”.

But the B&NES Conservative councillors say the measures will lead to higher levels of congestion and pollution and will result in residents with mobility problems being disproportionately affected.

Cllr Vic Pritchard, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “We are disappointed, though not surprised, to see Cabinet give the green light for 28 Low-Traffic Neighbourhood schemes to be rolled out across the district.

“We sympathise with the principle of LTNs, and with the administration’s desire to reduce overall traffic levels in the area. But we know from the introduction of LTN schemes in other parts of the country that, due to the displacement of traffic, they can lead to higher levels of pollution and congestion and can hamper emergency service vehicles.

“We have urged the administration to keep in mind all the people who could be adversely affected by these schemes and to rethink their approach. Sadly, they haven’t listened, proving that when it comes to their transport policies, they are well and truly asleep at the wheel.”

At a recent meeting of the Council’s Climate Emergency Scrutiny Panel, it was revealed that LTNs in Bath will not be scrapped even if they are initially disastrous.

As well as the approval of 28 LTN schemes by Cabinet last night, the administration is also seeking to base residents’ parking permit charges on vehicle emissions, increase the cost of on-street parking and implement on-street charges on Sundays.

The Conservative Group is concerned that proposals to introduce residents’ permit charges based solely on vehicle emissions will see those unable to afford to upgrade their cars to more environmentally-friendly models hit hardest.

The Conservatives are also concerned that proposals to start charging people to park on Sundays will hamper Bath’s economic recovery post-COVID.

And with the closure of Cleveland Bridge scheduled to take place for three months from Monday 28 June, there is a very real prospect of traffic chaos in Bath.