Campaign groups across Bath deliver joint petition demanding that council leaders attend a public debate with angry residents
A petition signed by more than 1% of the B&NES electorate has this morning (27th March) been sent to the council, calling for the Council leader Tim Warren and his cabinet to attend a public meeting to debate controversial proposals such as relocating the central library and the proposed new Park & Ride on Bathampton Meadows, which have deeply angered residents across the city.
More than 1,600 people have signed the petition saying they have no confidence in the current leadership of B&NES ‘to take decisions in the best interests of those who elected them’. Instead, they say, policies that the council leadership is pursuing, like cutting the arts budget by 100%, will ‘irreparably damage the city they are meant to protect, and go against the clearly expressed wishes of residents’.
The petition is the latest in a series of protests and campaigns against this council’s leadership and their policies over the past 12 months. In scenes not seen in Bath for many years, hundreds of people have taken to the streets to protest against deeply unpopular council measures, like the plan to move the central library allegedly to save money while at the same time proposing to spend at least £16 million on a Park & Ride that campaigners say won’t help the city’s chronic problems of congestion and pollution.
“Enough is enough,” said Caroline Ambrose, of the Save Bath Library campaign. “20,000 people have signed our previous petitions, but the council has ignored them. They’ve evaded our emails and refused to engage or properly discuss proposals that will affect thousands of people in this city. Instead they give us seriously misleading and completely inadequate statements; but no business case, no proper public consultation. No business would be run like this. It is completely unacceptable and it is time that the leadership of B&NES council was held to account.”
This latest move brings together for the first time the campaign groups Save Bath Library, Bathampton Meadows Alliance, and Stop Arts Cuts, under the umbrella ‘Bath Deserves Better’.
Bathampton Meadows Alliance campaigner Emma Adams said: “We have come together because there is so much frustration at what this council is doing, and they are just not listening. We know that resources are tight in the current climate, but the way that they are spending millions with one hand while cutting 100% of their arts budget with the other is just not acceptable. The arts in Bath are one of the reasons that tourists come to this city; and so is the beautiful setting of Bath, which this council is proposing to spend millions of pounds cementing over when they know it won’t help air pollution on the London Road, or congestion.”
“The people of Bath are saying, we do not agree with what you are doing. Stop. We are demanding that they come to a public meeting, with an independent chair, to have a proper discussion about the way forward, not some council debate where members of the public are silenced after three minutes. People are losing confidence in this council, and they must start listening to the people who elected them.”
Under the council’s constitution, a petition signed by 1% of the electorate automatically triggers a full debate at council; or the other options that the council can adopt are a public meeting or an enquiry.
The newly-formed umbrella group, Bath Deserves Better, says a public meeting is the only option that will ensure a proper open debate; and have promised a big protest next weekend, on April Fool’s Day, to back up their demands.
For further information: Louise Hidalgo m 07800 835 325 Dionne Pemberton m 07710 535 930