It’s NOT an April Fool’s Day joke – hundreds of protestors will be taking to the streets of Bath today – Saturday – on an April 1st march to demand B&NES council leaders meet them over controversial changes in the city.
Bath is bracing itself for its third big protest in as many months, as angry residents gather in the Circus tomorrow morning for a march down Milsom Street.
They say they are demanding that council leaders attend a public meeting – chaired by an independent moderator – to answer resident’s questions.
The protest, organised by a new umbrella group Bath Deserves Better, which unites several of the leading campaign groups in the city, say they are expecting hundreds to attend.
Protestors, who include arts funding, Bathampton Meadows park and ride and library service campaigners, will be joined by other disaffected groups in the city including the newly-formed campaign against a proposed cable car across Bath.
Opposition councillors from the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Greens are also planning to attend.
Save the Library campaigner, and one of the protest organisers, Dionne Pemberton, said: “We are marching to demand that council leaders stop evading our questions and begin providing honest answers. We want a face-to-face meeting to discuss these controversial and expensive changes that council leaders are pushing through despite huge public opposition. We believe that many of these changes won’t help our city; they will harm it.”
“But instead of engaging with the people who elected them, the leadership of this council tries at every turn to obfuscate and mislead. Their continuing refusal to provide well-thought, well-evidenced arguments for these plans, several of which will change the face of our city forever and put at risk our World Heritage status, leads us sadly to the conclusion that they can’t be justified.”
The group Bath Deserves Better delivered a petition to B&NES council on Monday signed by more than one per cent of the Bath and North East Somerset electorate saying they have no confidence in the current leadership. Under the council’s constitution, this should automatically trigger a debate at full council or the local authority can choose to host a public meeting or an enquiry.
However, campaigners say they’ve been told by the council that the earliest they can meet is July, at a council meeting.
Campaigner Emma Adams, of the Bathampton Meadows Alliance, said: “We are very disappointed by the council’s response, and have written to the council leader Tim Warren asking them to re-think. We need this conversation to happen now.”
“We are tired of being fobbed off at council meetings, where we are restricted to 3 minute speeches and then ignored. We want a proper public meeting, which we will organise, with an independent chair.”