Time for a coach congestion charge says BPT.

B&NES new coach parking strategy for the city comes under fire – from heritage watchdogs –  Bath Preservation Trust –  for increasing pollution and congestion and impacting badly on central heritage sites.

It goes on to call for an end to ‘coach cruising’  where vehicles tour the city’s attraction and then leave to go straight on to their next tourist destination. They suggest a congestion charge might help reduce for such activity.

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The existing coach station.

In a response to the Council’s new Parking and Coach Parking Strategy the Trust questions why such a policy does not mention heritage, air quality and congestion?

In a statement – quoted below in full – BPT say they are critical of both strategies.

‘For many years BPT has supported Council initiatives which claim they wish to reduce traffic and congestion in Bath’s city centre. Bath needs a sustainable and effective transport system underpinned by affordable public transport and a walk/cycle culture.

But the Parking Strategy proposed intends to increase the amount of short-term parking in the centre which actually increases the flow of cars, and directly contradicts the aims of its Getting Around Bath Transport Strategy adopted in 2014.

BPT instead suggests more ‘Park & Link’ opportunities using smaller sites where people live plus improvements to public transport and the provision of incentives to use it, alongside cycling and walking options.

Bath deserves the best in parking technologies including digital messaging signage, responsive charges and frequencies, and creative out-of-town event parking management.

The new Coach Parking Strategy appears even less well considered. Initial consultations seem to have bypassed properly canvassing the views of residents and city groups and are skewed towards satisfying the convenience and wish lists of tourists and the coach business stakeholders.

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The drop off point BPT are worried will become more congested and polluted.

The Trust opposes an increase in bays at Terrace Walk (Bog Island) and Green Park where parked coaches already impact the vista of these sensitive historic areas and where more would simply increase the number of coach movements, leading to yet more congestion and pollution.

The Council has a financial interest in parking, and a greater one in short term parking than longer term. Yet the two strategies are not transparent – are in fact silent – about the financial consequences set against the traffic consequences.

Similarly, the Council should be dissuaded from tolerating more coach companies ‘cruising’ the sights of the upper town before racing to the next holiday attraction. Instead, the Trust is calling for tighter regulations and consideration of a congestion charge for those coaches who bring no economic benefit to the city.

It is telling that BPT observes the phrase ‘environmental impact’ only once and the total absence of the words heritage, air quality and congestion in the 10 page summary document.

The Trust’s detailed responses to these consultations can be found at:
http://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk/parking’

Bath Newseum has asked B&NES to comment on this statement.

 

Meanwhile the Chairman of the Federation of Bath Residents’ Association, Robin Kerr, has sent Bath Newseum a copy of a letter sent to the Leader of B&NES, Cllr Tim Warren.

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Robin Kerr

It welcomes the Bath Air Quality Action Plan but warns that unless the council actually implements these measures ‘nothing will change.’

However the Federation is also critical of plans for coaches. Here is the part of the letter dealing with them.

” 8. By contrast, the coach parking strategy is totally flawed. It fails to recognise the severe adverse impact of coach traffic on the city, to analyse the contribution that coaches are claimed to make to the economy, or to attempt to strike any kind of balance between the two. Essentially, the approach has been to ask what the coach operators, drivers and passengers want, and accommodate them without regard to the impact on the city or its residents. Surveys were conducted of the views of coach companies, drivers and passengers, but none of Bath residents. In the view of many residents (and some businesses), coaches are a plague.

9. The strategy proposes that coaches should continue to come into the very heart of the city and drop off just metres from some of the Key Elements of the World Heritage Site such as the Roman Baths, the Abbey and North Parade. Coach demand is forecast to increase by 24% by 2026, but the strategy seems to suggest that this increase is simply to be accommodated. These proposals are completely incompatible with Council’s policies to cut air pollution and reduce traffic, especially

in the historic core, and a wasted opportunity to improve our city. Coach drop-offs should be provided at locations outside the city centre, within a reasonable walking distance of it. We do welcome the creation of a coach park at Odd Down.

10. The proposal to put four to six new coach bays on Green Park Road is particularly egregious. It would gobble up a valuable green space and ruin the riverside setting of Green Park, which is used by young children including a growing number of visiting school groups.

11. The strategy should be widened to cover all aspects of the presence of coaches in Bath, including illegal parking, engines left running, and the movement of coaches through the historic core of the city. Restrictions should be placed on the streets that can be used by coaches within this area, such as High Street. The coach ban currently in force in Brock Street should be extended to Bennet Street and Gay Street. Coaches are not generally permitted to come into the historic core of York, an excellent model for Bath.

12. We strongly urge you to reject the draft Coach strategy and direct that a revised one is prepared which is consistent with the traffic reduction aims of the Core Strategy, PMP, Transport Strategy and the PRMS, and with the requirement which has been placed on the Council to bring air pollution inside the legal limit as soon as possible. Coaches must be managed, not simply accommodated.”

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