B&NES say they have listened to the concerns of Blue badge holders in announcing access arrangements for them, and other permitted drivers, in some Bath city centre streets, which will close as part of proportionate anti-terrorism security measures to protect the public.
The Council says it’s introducing its proportionate, preventative measures to protect public safety, based on police advice, in:
- Lower Borough Walls, Stall Street, Abbeygate Street, Abbey Green, Swallow Street (south), Bath Street, Beau Street, and Hot Bath Street;
- Cheap Street, Westgate Street (including Parsonage Lane), Saw Close and Upper Borough Walls.
Access for Blue Badge holders driving into the security zone is via Cheap Street, and Blue Badge holders wishing to gain access via taxis or carers, will start from 1 January 2022 and details can be found at www.bathnes.gov.uk/bathcitycentreaccess
The council is writing to Blue Badge holders where it has their information, as well as residents and businesses within the security zone with the details of the access arrangements.
Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for Transport, said: “Our priority is to keep the public safe and we know there is also a balance to ensure accessibility. As part our work on the scheme we commissioned a detailed independent accessibility study earlier this year. We have listened to consultation feedback from residents, business and Blue Badge holders and these mitigations strike the right balance.”
The restrictions mean that at certain times of day, only vehicles performing the following functions can enter and use the roads without arranging prior permission:
- Emergency services
- Royal Mail and Parcel Force vehicles collecting from letterboxes or the Post Office
- Construction, roadworks and emergency utility works (such as repairing gas leaks and flooded drains)
- Vehicles required for major building, industrial or demolition operations
- Private vehicles or taxis with an occupant (or picking up a passenger) carrying a valid Blue Badge card (Cheap Street access point only)
Initially, the council will manage and operate the restrictions through a team of onsite marshals and staff in its CCTV control room, using existing gates and the ‘rise and fall’ bollard on Lower Borough Walls. Gradually, the council will replace this arrangement with automated and static bollards, later in 2022.
Blue Badge holders (or a carer, relative or friend who is driving) can drop off pick up or park for up to three hours on double yellow lines on the following streets inside the restricted area: Cheap Street, Westgate Street, Saw Close and Upper Borough Walls. Between the hours of 10am and 6pm, they will need to show their Blue Badge to the safety marshal positioned at the gates to enter and exit these streets.
If a relative or friend drops a Blue Badge holder off on a restricted street before 10am, that same person can return to pick a Blue Badge holder up, as long as they have the Blue Badge to hand for checking purposes.
Taxi’s carrying a blue badge holder as a passenger will also be permitted to pick up and drop off at any time on these streets. Between the hours of 10am and 6pm they will need to show the Blue Badge to the safety marshal positioned at the gates to enter and exit these streets.
Residents who are Blue Badge holders who are being picked up via a carer, relative, friend or taxi will need to call Council Connect on 01225 39 4041 and they will transfer you to our CCTV team, who can check your 6-digit Blue Badge Card number and vehicle details.
People can now hire mobility equipment whether a resident or a visitor. There is a range of equipment available on day-by-day hire, from Assured Mobility in Hot Bath Street. To find out more, visit their website, call on 01225 831 960, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Residents and businesses will only be able to access these streets between 10am and 6pm by applying for a one-off permit for things like a house move, or the delivery of large pieces of furniture. Permits are free of charge, they will need to demonstrate that the access is essential and can’t be arranged outside the normal operating hours of the street closure.
The decision last week to proceed with the public security measures follows months of extensive consultation, talks with disability access groups and meetings with businesses and residents.
However the council will trigger a public inquiry for one street in the scheme after one member of the public upheld their objections to the proposed traffic regulation order for anti-terrorism purposes in York Street, despite work to mitigate concerns.
A public inquiry is held when an objection remains to the Traffic Regulation Order and agreement cannot be found. It is anticipated the Inquiry will be held in the spring.
While the York Street traffic regulation order for anti-terrorism purposes will be the subject of a Public Inquiry, the road will reopen on 1 January 2022 for five days, when a separate Temporary Traffic Regulation Order starts, to enable the public realm works to be carried out as part of the work on the World Heritage Centre scheme. The works will starts on Thursday 6 January.
The works, which are essential to the long-term maintenance of York Street, were initially scheduled to be delivered alongside the works in Swallow Street during summer 2021. The York Street section was delayed in order to minimise the impact on local businesses during both the busy summer months and Christmas trading period.
The security proposals include vehicle access restrictions on streets defined as crowded places in and around Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths while maintaining managed access to the city centre for residents, businesses and blue badge holders.
They were initially based on a counter-terrorism security survey on Bath city centre in September 2016 which identified the areas as being vulnerable to a potential hostile vehicle attack.
In February 2020 Avon & Somerset Police Chief Constable asked Bath & North East Somerset Council to consider an ATTRO covering the wider city centre of Bath which would be used in the event of a heightened threat, specific intelligence, as a result of an incident or if there are events taking place that create crowded places.
Following consultation with Counter Terrorism security advisors and the council, which centred around the crowded places indicated within the National Counter Terrorism Security Office report, it was considered proportionate to introduce permanent restrictions covering a smaller area in the city centre resulting in the current measures, which the Chief Constable supported.
The council has continued to work alongside the Counter-Terrorism advisors to protect these areas, through both physical measures and training for front line staff, both from public and private sector.
- Cheap Street, Westgate Street, Saw Close and Upper Borough Walls: vehicle access restrictions from 10am to 6pm, with controlled access permitted for Blue Badge holders and carers, or taxis carrying Blue Badge holders as a passenger.
- Lower Borough Walls, Stall Street, Abbeygate St, Abbey Green, Swallow Street (south), Bath Street, and Hot Bath Street; vehicle access restrictions from 10am- 6pm
- York Street: extend restricted access operating hours to 10am to 10pm, to support the increased footfall which is anticipated from Terrace Walk to the new Clore Learning and World Heritage Centres.
- Extra Blue Badge and resident permit parking and loading spaces nearby, but outside of the restricted area.
To implement or enforce parking restrictions of any kind on a public road, a Traffic Regulation Order first needs to be introduced. The city centre security scheme proposed uses a combination of TROs and Traffic Regulation Orders for anti-terrorism purposes.
The proposed orders were amended from the proposals first laid out by the council after listening to feedback from residents in its previous consultation, which ran from November 2020 to January 2021. They have also been informed by an independent Accessibility Study.