Pressure on local parking and the creation of more ‘rat-runs’. Just two of the concerns – about the proposed Clean Air Zone for Bath – raised in a lively and more than normally packed annual meeting of the Camden Residents Association on Thursday last.
According to local resident, David Kernek, the meeting subjected B&NES Cabinet member Councillor Mark Shelford to a grilling on the council’s proposals
, the public consultation period for which closes on Sunday.
David – a former editor of the (then) Bath Evening Chronicle – has sent in the following:
“Under the proposal, all high emission buses, coaches, HGVs, taxis, vans and private cars would be charged – approximately £9 – when driving in or close to the city centre from late 2020. Coun. Shelford said there would be exemptions for disabled drivers, emergency services and, possibly, bus runs organized by schools.
Concerns voiced by Camden residents, who were joined by householders from neighbouring Fairfield and Larkhall, covered:
- The fear that the CAZ would create yet more rat runs in and around Camden
- Pressure on parking spaces in roads just outside the planned zone
- Difficulties and costs for Bath families driving north/south and east/west across the city to see friends, on business, or to and from the RUH
- With a 24-hour, midnight-to-midnight charging period, night shift workers could be paying £18 to get to and from work
- The financial hit for drivers who can’t afford to upgrade to low-emission cars, and those whose diesel cars now have little if any trade-in value
- The possibility, based on its previous experience with major development proposals, that Bath & NE Somerset Council might not be able to respond to responses lodged by the public during the consultation period … in other words, the fear that comments submitted by residents will be placed in the tray marked Trash
The council, said Coun. Shelford, was working with central government ministries, and also with the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), which comprises Bristol, B&NES and South Gloucestershire councils.
The question of subsidies for local bus services was raised by David Kernek, a Camden resident since the 1980s and a former editor of the (then) Bath Evening Chronicle. He said that that one of the benefits of the CAZ might be that it would encourage people to use, or think about using, local buses services for trips into the town centre. “If so, will the council re-instate the subsidies – some of which were by the council’s own definition De minimis or trivial – it has in recent years terminated for services and routes that First Bus claimed were uneconomic?”
That, said Coun. Shelford, was largely a matter for WECA, which was now responsible for transport in the region. It was working on a bus strategy, but it was “late”. Pressed by Mr Kernek, he said he didn’t know why it was late.
Perhaps the councillor ought to find out by asking his Cabinet colleague, B&NES council leader Tim Warren who, as it happens, represents our local authority on WECA’s board?
Residents might also want him to ask just what, precisely, WECA – with a chief executive on a salary higher than the prime minister’s, and an elected mayor with a £60,000+ allowance – is doing for Bath.