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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Response to the Scrutiny Inquiry Day (Tue, 22nd Mar 2016)

We found the quality of the professional presentations of a high standard and gained much useful information.

However, the representatives of the community who were invited to speak seemed unbalanced. One speaker did not seem to represent any community and there were multiple speakers who represented Batheaston. There were no speakers representing London road residents or city centre residents nor did any speaker represent the interests of the business community. There were apparently no speakers from communities living near proposed P&R sites other than the water meadows.

The stated aim of the day was as we understood it, to look at integrated transport options for the east of Bath. However, most of the discussion was focussed on P&Rs and indeed one potential P&R site.

Our primary focus in addressing this topic is the reduction of pollution in the city centre and we think that that the reduction of NOx and small particulates needs to be set as a key objective of any strategy. We also think that there needs to be more monitoring of small particulate pollution in the city centre canyons such as Broad Street where there is residential housing.

We think that any strategy needs to be based on realistic assumptions and well-researched forecasting rather than wishful thinking about technological progress and radical changes in peoples’ behaviour.
For Bath to remain a vibrant and successful city we need people to come to the city centre and for the foreseeable future, a large number of those journeys will be made by diesel and petrol driven vehicles.

These vehicle journeys need to be managed. People need to be encouraged to park out of town if possible and this requires the provision of good P&R facilities near all the approach routes of the city. These need to be accessible to people when they need them so consideration should be given to extending the hours of operation.

Goods vehicles should wherever possible be incentivised to use out of city freight consolidation hubs.
Low emissions zoning can play a role in increasing the rate of uptake of both out of town parking and less polluting technology.

However, for the foreseeable future many, people will, for a variety of reasons, continue to drive into the city centre and they need to be directed as efficiently as possible to adequate off-street parking so that they do not circle the city’s streets adding to pollution by the sort of stop-start driving this inevitably involves. We need to put in place deterrents to coach operators who do not stop in Bath but drive around the cities iconic sites.

While we would like to see an increase in the amount of affordable public transport we also recognise that under the current ownership framework this would require public subsidy and, therefore, it might be worth considering the sort of levy that Nottingham use to generate revenue and incentivise businesses to encourage staff to use out of city parking and other forms of transport.

While cycling and cycle routes have a role to play in an integrated transport system it needs to be recognised that the city's geography and indeed demography place considerable limitations on how big this role can be. It also needs to be recognised that in the confined space of the city centre pedestrians and cyclists are inherently incompatible and formal and informal attempts at creating shared places have been widely seen as failures.

The provision of high-speed broadband needs to be seen as part of any integrated transport solution as a mechanism for shortening and eliminating physical journey.

Action needs to be taken to prevent or incentivise social housing providers from continuing with policies which involve moving city centre workers out of the city.

Above all, we would call for the council to show leadership. Stop constantly discussing strategies and implement the strategy you have already created at great expense because while you debate people’s health is being impacted and lives shortened.

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