In May 2017, during the Spring 2017 campaign for the West of England Mayor, we met with candidates from the Green Party, LibDems and Labour. The Conservative candidate who was subsequently elected, Tim Bowles, did not respond to our invitation to meet and discuss the best way to solve Bath’s transport issues while also protecting Bathampton Meadows. Here is the presentation we shared with those we met.
In Feburary 2017, opposition Councillors ‘called-in’ the cabinet decision of 25th January and the BMA both submitted a report and spoke at the meeting alongside the Bath Preservation Trust, Transition Bath and National Trust. We spoke about the sub-standard nature of the Cabinet paper, the superficial and inaccurate nature of the rationale subsequently published, as well as other aspects of the call-in, such as the misrepresentation of the public consultation. Although the majority Conservatives on the panel all voted against the call-in and it wasn’t upheld, we had strong support from our own Ward Councillors and opposition members on the panel for which we are very grateful. We have published a letter to supporters following the meeting.
In late October 2016 we released a video that illustrated the under-usage of Odd Down car park. This car park is so rarely at capacity that giant weeds cover sections of it. The Council has since cut these plants back and tried to say that it was overspill for Christmas Market time. This is simply not the case – the original planning application to extend Odd Down makes no reference whatsoever to any areas being overspill or peak parking. The forecasts put in front of the planning committee were plain wrong. Worryingly, the same forecast tool is being used for the east of Bath.
In early October 2016 we met with the new Council Chief Executive Ashley Ayre to talk him through the reasons for our campaign and set out a summary of our research. If you’re new to the campaign this is a good starting point to have a read through.
In May 2016 we responded to a new set of forecasts released by the Council that tied the success of a new east of Bath P&R to providing a bus shuttle to the RUH hospital, despite the hospital opening a car park of the same size in the same period and having not asked the Council to provide this facility. The forecast usage of the park and ride was also at odds with peoples’ daily lives and showed that the car park would continue filling until 3pm when it would then remain far fuller later in the evening that any existing park and ride in the city. There was no explanation as to why our lives would alter in this way and it was only because we turned a table of data into a chart that we could identify what was being put forward.
In March/April 2016 we commissioned automated traffic counts in Batheaston for five weeks to measure the impact of the holidays on traffic levels. This was in response to the clear change in congestion patterns seen in the area when schools are off and also out of frustration that the Officer in charge of the park and ride proposals has a wider remit than just park and ride and yet had dismissed the school run as a “non-issue” at the March public Scrutiny Day to examine an integrated solution for the East. Such refusal to engage with the issue of the school run persists today.
In March 2016 we took part in the Scrutiny Day to examine an integrated transport solution for the East of Bath. This was a session that had been agreed in the November 2015 Council resolution and attended by a range of speakers and participants. At this session we expanded on the ideas we had set out in February at the Bailbrook House Hotel and brought new information about critical parking reports that had been withheld from the Public Consultation and report to Full Council in 2015. In the afternoon we participated in a workshop to explore alternatives to an East park and ride. We were extremely disappointed in the Scrutiny Panel write up and recommendations following this day, which itself had clearly concluded against a large-scale Park and Ride for the east of Bath. Our publications from this meeting were:
- Our Report and Presentation
- A statement of the things we had heard as participants on the day
- Our recommendations for consideration by the panel following the day, including alternative transport solutions
- Our response to the report published by the Council following the day
In February 2016 we held a public meeting at the Bailbrook House Hotel, attended by Council Leader Tim Warren, Strategic Director Place Louise Fradd, Cllrs Liz Richardson, Alison Millar, Martin Veal and Geoff Ward. At this meeting we set out the background traffic and pollution situation to the East of Bath, as well as the under-usage of the existing Park and Rides. We focused too on the lack of research and data in the process, especially why people travel around Bath and who might use any new park and ride. We explained to the meeting that it would contravene the EU air quality directive to site a park and ride in an area, such as the Meadows Basin, where pollution would reach illegal levels. We did this in a way not presented in any of the Public Consultation materials, which themselves had lacked any robust data.