MP calls on B&NES not to lose nerve over Park and Ride

Ben Howlett, MP for Bath.
Ben Howlett, MP for Bath.

Bath’s MP Ben Howlett has issued a statement in which he calls on B&NES  to hold their ground over plans for a new park and ride site to the east of the city.

Despite protests about the spread of tarmac over the city’s outlying water meadows he says you cannot freeze Bath in time as the rest of the world is not standing still!.

Here’s the full statement:

‘The Park and Ride consultation has shown that there is a large amount of support for an eastern park and ride scheme from Bath residents, whilst those living to the east of Bath have made their views heard. The results are much as one would expect to a consultation of this nature, and it is important to remember this is a consultation, not a referendum, and I hope the Council will hold their ground and pursue plans to develop a site to the east of Bath. A park and ride on the eastern side will help reduce congestion, pollution and the number of vehicles commuting into Bath from the east.

I am made nervous about the opposition by a vocal minority in Bath to all plans for progress. There seems to be a belief that Bath should remain frozen in time, but the rest of the world does not stand still. To enable the city to flourish for future generations we need to take decisions now and plan and build infrastructure to ensure the historic buildings of our city, and its surroundings are preserved for future generations, but this does not mean doing nothing. It is worth reminding ourselves that infrastructure projects should not be looked at in isolation. Should Bath Rugby gain its long-awaited planning permission, of which I am a staunch advocate, we must ask where fans will park coming from the East of the city.

The Roman Baths.
The Roman Baths.

I was reminded of the changing perception of preservation and beauty, by a recent trip to the Bath Spa. The commentary reminds visitors, that the Spa stones are only bare because the vibrant colours which they were originally painted have worn away over time.

We preserve Bath in its sandy tradition, yet, were the Romans to arrive back they would wonder why on earth we haven’t painted everything. I am not suggesting painting the city, but I do challenge some of the “norms” under which we operate in the belief we are preserving the past.

I was particularly concerned this week to already be in receipt of correspondence objecting to the A36/46 link road, from an organisation that purports to represent the views of 12000 B&NES residents, before proposals are even on the table.

Bath cannot be preserved in aspic, we have to enable future generations to enjoy, live and work in our beautiful city. Just doing nothing, and never building new infrastructure, whilst our population and its associated traffic grows all around us is not sustainable. Ultimately trying to retain Bath as a museum piece will lead to Bath’s demise as our roads become increasingly congested, creating air pollution, and possibly threatening our UNESCO World Heritage Status and our escalating property prices freeze younger generations out of the city.

London Road traffic
London Road traffic

I was delighted to see the launch of the National Infrastructure Commission which I hope will focus minds on the need to plan for the future. I hope that here in Bath we can reconcile our desire to preserve with the increasingly urgent need for new infrastructure and urge those forward thinking residents who know we need an eastern park and ride to come and speak at the full Council meeting on the 12th November, as there are far more of you quietly supportive across Bath than the scheme’s very vocal opponents.’

Your Director points out that our MP probably means Roman Baths when he says ‘Bath Spa’ as the waters of the Thermae Spa are actually contained in a contemporary build.

The electrification of the main line to London will probably increase property prices still further.

One of the reasons Bath has World Heritage status is its geographical setting – the surrounding hills and vales of beautiful countryside.

Edinburgh’s World Heritage status is said currently to be under threat as a result of major re-building on a grand scale in the city centre.


  1. The error of the current Conservative administration of the Council consultation on the Park and Ride is that it omits the Rail and Ride option. This has been developing over the last 4 years and yes it would be a lot more expensive but it provides a long term solution and also fits in well with the new Metro West suburban rail project by providing a turn round point for the trains. It also fits in with the Governments plans to build infrastructure and it better serves the Heritage designation of our beautiful city.

  2. I am writing in response to Ben Howlett’s remarks on the Park and Ride. While I accept that Bath has a serious traffic problem, I strongly disagree that creating a new Park & Ride will solve this – the various Park & Rides in Bristol have failed to ameliorate the problem in that city.
    It is well-known that the creation of more roads and the infrastructure that facilitates roads only encourages car use.
    I believe it is now time to examine closely what constitutes a sustainable tourist policy, which supports local businesses while also supporting the environment which draws so many people to the area. Bathampton meadows – which would be
    largely concreted under the proposed scheme – are not ‘waste space’, but an invaluable green resource, supporting
    a wealth of flora and fauna.
    It is not seeking to ‘preserve in aspic’ to wish to conserve this
    area, when wildlife at large throughout the UK is under ever greater threat from industrialisation, and when people’s health is severely impaired by the growth in traffic in many cities.
    Yours sincerely,
    Bath Citizen, South Bath

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