We have joined together with the Save Bath Library campaign, Bath Against Cuts and the Stop (B&NES) Arts Cuts to launch a petition calling on B&NES to reverse the Park & Ride decision, the relocation of Bath central library, and the cuts to the arts budget. These are all hugely unpopular decisions which will impact on our city, its economy and reputation, and our well-being. There has been no proper and meaningful consultation on any of them, and in the case of the Park & Ride, which will cost millions of pounds, there’s not even a proper business case yet.
As well as calling on the council’s leadership to overturn these decisions, the petition calls for B&NES’ cabinet to attend a public meeting where these issues can be properly debated and at which residents may decide to hold a vote of no confidence in the cabinet and its failure to do what’s best for the people of Bath.
If 1% of the B&NES electorate sign (that’s just over 1,300 residents), the council is obliged under its own rules either to debate it at a full meeting of the council or to hold a public meeting – which is what we’re calling for.
There’s deep anger in the city, and it’s growing. The council hasn’t been listening or consulting properly, and these decisions that it’s taking will have far-reaching consequences for all of us and damage the city that we love.
It’s going to cut our beloved arts funding by 100%. Even though Bath’s reputation and its tourist industry relies heavily on the city’s cultural heritage and its wonderful festivals. This decision will have a lasting effect on the city.
It’s going to move the central library to a new location where there will be far fewer books on display and there’ll instead be an Argos style click-and-collect system. The move will cost £4.4 million, and it looks like they’ll be letting 25 staff go. The savings this will make are £800k a year from sometime after the next election. But there’s no been no business case and no real consultation. And our central library is well used – by students, school-children, people without computers or printers, parents with young children, as well as the general public.
The Bath Community Academy has also been told it must close and children will now be filtered to other schools across Bath, instead of being able to attend a school close to where they live and which they love.
And, at the same time as all this, the council is planning to spend between £14 and £17.5 million on a Park & Ride that many people think will be a highly damaging white elephant. The council has already spent £1.1 million on the plan, and has just been allocated another half million pounds without saying what it will be spent on. This is despite the fact that the council’s own consultants have warned a new Park & Ride will at best take 100 cars off the road, and only then in the morning rush hour by 2029. And the council’s own Q&A on the Park & Ride says the impact on air pollution in the city will be insignificant. But yet it’s still pressing ahead with a plan that will end up costing £20,000 a parking space and will ruin one of the most beautiful landscapes in Bath’s World Heritage setting. (Bathampton Meadows is one of the Telegraph’s top 10 beauty spots in Britain under threat.)
We know Bath has to make cuts, but to damage such valued city assets and borrow money for a costly ‘white elephant’ is mismanagement of our money. The council leadership must listen to the people whose best interests they are supposed to represent.