‘Mr Clean’

‘Mr Clean’

The city our millions of tourists briefly visit is not the same as the one Bathonians have to live in.

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Their coaches add to the constant central pollution the local authority has been told to clean up and the government has set a 2021 deadline to do it too.

A Clean Air Zone is the proposal and citizens are currently being asked for their views on various proposals. The local MP doesn’t think Council plans are radical enough.

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Maybe its time to pedestrianise the whole city centre! But will that kill business?

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Meanwhile, there are other pollutants to deal with.  Domestic rubbish and street litter are also high on the ‘clean up’ agenda with news now that the Universities have been drawn in to help bear the cost of clearing rubbish once the students move out.

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Then there’s the gulls!

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If anyone can lay claim to the title of ‘Mr Clean’ its Cllr Bob Goodman – B&NES Cabinet member for Development and Neighbourhood. It’s his job to deal with these issues and he’s determined to stay the course.

Bath Newseum met him in Parade Gardens to go through his ‘hit’ list.

So let’s start with that public consultation about a Clean Air Zone. What are the people of Bath saying?

Pleased to say – the day after our interview – the steps of the Guildhall have been cleaned!

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Good to see the gull mess has been​ cleaned off the Guildhall steps!

But across the road bags of rubbish were on the pavement until around 10.15 am and the residue remaining looks disgusting.

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Clean Air Zone studies underway

Clean Air Zone studies underway

Detailed studies, to establish possible charges for different types of non-compliant vehicles driving into a proposed Clean Air Charging Zone, were announced today by Bath and North East Somerset Council.

The council has been told by the government, along with 27 other local authorities, that it must comply with NO2limits by 2021 at the latest because Nitrogen Dioxide pollution, caused by vehicle emissions, exceeds required limits at several hotspots in the city.

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Three options for a clean air charging zone have already been put forward by the council, only one of which includes charging high-polluting cars as well as buses, lorries, taxis and vans.

No decision on a preferred option, including which vehicles might be charged and how much they will be charged, can be made until extensive assessments are completed later this year.

The council needs to establish the minimum charge that will lead to the necessary reduction of higher-emission vehicles travelling in the zone to meet the targets set by the government in the shortest possible time.

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To inform this work the council is undertaking a statistical survey among a panel of 1,100 people who currently drive non-compliant cars in the city asking about the impact of charges ranging from £3 to £13 should the third option, which would include charging higher-emission cars, be proposed.

The aim is to determine what impact a range of different charges have on the possible behaviour of drivers, including paying the charge, swapping to public transport, using park and rides or changing their vehicle.

Councillor Bob Goodman, (Conservative Combe Down) Cabinet Member for Development and Neighbourhoods, said: “A great deal of technical assessment is now underway and the research on what charges would effectively change the behaviour of drivers is part of that work. We want to be open and transparent about this whole process, and keep people informed of the work we’re doing.

“It is essential to stress that we have to ask people about charges for statistical purposes but this does not mean the charges quoted in the survey or even charging for cars will be in the final proposal.

“Decisions cannot be made about what vehicles will be included in the CAZ, what charges will be applied, and what exemptions may be offered until the technical and economic assessments, public health impact assessments and public engagement are complete.”

Alongside this work, the council is talking to bus operators about winning available government funds for updating fleets, or to retrofit older buses with compliant, cleaner engines. It has also in dialogue with taxi drivers and representatives from a range of bodies such as including the Road Haulage and Freight Transport Associations. It is also encouraging business owners driving light goods vehicles (vans) to drop into events at popular trade centres over the summer.

To determine the minimum charge for non-compliant, higher emission buses, HGVs and taxis, as well as LGVs, the council will build on the work done in London and Leeds, while taking into account the different economies in each city. These are the vehicles that would be charged should a Class B or Class C CAZ be the preferred option.

The results of all this work will be used alongside the analysis of an Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) survey, completed over a two-week period from 31 October to 13 November last year. This recorded more than 500,000 separate number plates identifying the number and type of higher polluting vehicles typically travelling in the city.

Councillor Goodman added: “All this data will assist in modelling which CAZ options are capable of achieving air quality targets within the timeframe which is required of us, and will help improve Bath’s air quality making the city cleaner, healthier and a more attractive place.”

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Bath’s Clean Air Plan in summary

The council is encouraging residents, interest groups, commuters and business owners to get involved, ask questions, and share their views on the three options for a Clean Air Charging Zone in Bath that have already been proposed.

All this work will feed into the Outline Business Case, which will outline the preferred option and proposed charges for the zone. It will be published later in the year when again people will be able to have their say.

There are a number of ways people can get involved and find out more either:

  • Drop into a scheduled BreATHE event, or a public surgery offering a 30-minute bookable slot with an informed Council team member
  • Submit comments via social media, email, letter or an online form.

Details of regular events throughout the spring and summer, and other ways to comment are available from the Council’s website www.bathnes.gov.uk/breathe.

To keep up-to-date, follow up on Facebook and Twitter with hashtag #BathBreathes2021.

Making Bath clean and ‘green’.

Making Bath clean and ‘green’.

MP announces Transport and Pollution Conference for Bath

While our council deliberates over a clean air zone for the city centre, l hear Greenpeace has been pulled in to talk about air quality at a Transport and Pollution conference for residents being organised on June 9th by Bath’s MP, Wera Hobhouse.

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Bath’s MP, Wera Hobhouse.

She told Bath Newseum:  ‘Last February I organised a Briefing session for residents, on Bath’s Traffic and Pollution problems. We heard about student numbers, tourist numbers and our increasing population; we heard from business and public transport. Across the city, residents have held their own meetings. 

I am delighted to announce that Greenpeace’s Air Quality campaigner, Rosie Rogers, is our first Keynote speaker. Rosie has worked tirelessly over the last 3 years to bring Air Pollution to the top of the political agenda. She will be outlining the dangers of air pollution, and the solutions available. 

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Rose Rogers, Greenpeace.

Bath University’s Dr Ian Walker is our second keynote speaker. He’ll be looking at the psychology around cars and car use, and the challenges of creating behaviour change in a culture that’s only ever known cars.’

Then there are the other options available to us, such as trams, light rail, pedestrianization and increased cycle use, and we can look at how other cities are dealing with traffic and pollution. I also think it is vital that we explore the remaining options to the east of the city. ‘

Finally, I am asking some key local groups to tell us what they think the solutions are. The speakers are Prof Graham Parkhurst from the University of the West of England, Robin Kerr from Federation of Bath Residents’ Associations, and Joanne Wright from Transition in Bath.’ 

The conference will take place on Saturday the 9th June, beginning 9.45am at Komedia, in Westgate Street.

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The Komedia Centre

Tickets are free for BaNES residents, and available from office@werahobhouse.co.uk. Further details will be announced at www.werahobhouse.co.uk. 

Two-way traffic’s back on Cleveland Bridge.

Two-way traffic’s back on Cleveland Bridge.

The temporary traffic lights – which caused rush-hour holdups on Cleveland Bridge – are now gone. Work on the damaged toll house will continue for a week or so.

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The temporary traffic lights – and scaffolding – has gone.

I was told when the lights would go good in an interview with James Byrne who is Project Directing the repairs to the toll house – on the London Road side of the bridge – which was badly damaged during a traffic incident.

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The damaged toll house.

The bridge – and it’s four Greek Doric-styled lodges – was built for the Duke of Cleveland on the site of an ancient ferry crossing – back in 1827. It is one of the finest late-Georgian bridges – in Greek Revival style – which combines the antique with the use of new materials.

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Some of the damaged section that has needed replacement.

It’s 30-metre cast-iron span has since been strengthened and restored.

Work on repairing the damaged section has been causing lengthy rush-hour queues but James Byrne told Bath Newseum why the traffic control has been necessary. Apologies for the noise but – if you are a motorist using this road – you will know what it is like!

Many of the construction photos are courtesy of Mr James Byrne MSc MRICS.

In Bath, we rust.

In Bath, we rust.

There’s a good chance those rust-covered and expensive planters may stay on the London Road after all – though maybe in different positions.

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The irony of moving the container when it clearly bears a message referring to the London Road – supreme gateway to Bath – is not lost on me.

Took B&NES a couple of years to take action on a safety audit that had suggested the trees planted in some of them obscured the vision of motorists pulling out from side roads.

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Will the planters now be allowed to stay?

So – suddenly – the trees are ripped out or sawn off – and the artist-produced containers – that were designed to rust and which bear poetic quotes – seems destined for scrapping or replacing some of those unattractive (but necessary) concrete blocks in the city centre.

However, l hear there has been a softening of attitudes in that – as long as the safety issue is addressed – the planters can stay where they are or be moved slightly to new sites on the London Road where there is no obstruction to worry about.

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Crouching down to car driver level. I can still see what’s coming.

Have to say l crouched down to car driver level to take some pictures this morning and – as long as they are re-dressed with low growing plants – l cannot see any problem.

 

A B&NES spokesperson said they are looking into the business of visibility:

“The Council is still investigating issues caused by the positioning of the planters. One tree has been removed because it was dying and others removed temporarily and replanted whilst the Council gives further consideration to the issue of visibility at junctions on this stretch of London Road.

The positioning of the bus shelter will also be checked as part of the work on junction visibility. ”

 

 

Toll house repairs continue this week.

Toll house repairs continue this week.

Monday, April 23rd. St George’s Day, Shakespeare’s birthday was also the day work will finally begin to repair Bath’s historic Cleveland Bridge Toll House which was damaged in an incident last year.

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The damaged toll house.

The specialist repair works are expected to last two weeks, with two-way temporary traffic signals operating 24/7.

Signals will be manually operated from 7am to 8pm weekdays and from 8am to 7pm over the weekend, in order to be as reactive to traffic conditions as possible and minimise delays.

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Prepare for hold-ups .

The work had to be rescheduled from March due to severe cold weather affecting specialist building materials. Historic England – which is overseeing the works – advised that the lime mortar would not set properly due to the temperatures being below five degrees centigrade.

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The last repair job to do at this busy junction,

Councillor Mark Shelford (Conservative, Lyncombe) Cabinet member for Transport and Environment, said: “These are essential works and unfortunately there will be delays but we ask drivers to be patient with us while the work is carried out. Extended working hours will be in operation in order that the works can be completed as quickly as possible and to minimise disruption.”

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Prepare for hold-ups .

The council has co-ordinated a series of roadworks in the London Road areas over recent weeks to minimise disruption. The main resurfacing works on London Road have been completed. The new loading bay works on London Road should be completed by the end of this week; with only yellow boxes and line markings left to do – this will involve only a partial closure of the A4 London Road West of the main traffic signals.  The A36 and East of the traffic signals will remain open under two way traffic control; these overnight works will start at 8pm and be completed before 6am.

Gas works have also been completed to avoid further disruption again later in the year.

The council’s Variable Message Signs located across various routes into Bath will display the latest information to drivers.

Bath Preservation Trust support for Clean Air Zone.

Bath Preservation Trust support for Clean Air Zone.

Bath Preservation Trust  has come out in support of the proposal by B&NES to introduce a Clean Air Zone in Bath (CAZ) – particularly because its boundaries take into account the through traffic crossing Cleveland Bridge and exiting the City along the London Road. 

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In a press statement – released today, Tuesday. April 10th – BPT say:

‘We support the highest category of restriction (category D) in order to encourage behavioural change for car users as well as commercial vehicles.

Bath traffic results in three problems which can damage the listed buildings and harm the amenity of the World Heritage Site: pollution, congestion and vibrations. The CAZ is primarily aimed at the former (pollution) though it is to be hoped that it will also change behaviours of both longer distance drivers and local users.

While the CAZ is therefore by no means a total solution to the traffic problems of Bath, we hope that this will provide a first step towards providing a number of ‘carrot and stick’ methods to changing behaviours regarding vehicle movements in the City.

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London Road traffic.

We have two specific requests to make. The first is that any ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) installations used to run the charging system collect data as long as possible BEFORE the imposition of the charges so that there are definitive ‘Before and After’ datasets which will allow the effectiveness to be measured; and that secondly the income form the CAZ is at least in part hypothecated to incentivising other forms of non-polluting transport such as clean delivery methods, clean buses, strengthened public transport, and increased prioritisation of cycling and walking infrastructure.’