For years now politicians of all stamps have done little or nothing to stop people in Bath being poisoned. Now that we finally have a well-researched plan it is really important that our local politicians don’t play politics with it but implement it and that it does not become hopelessly diluted by giving in to special pleading.
The plan has been consulted on for months now and certainly, all politicians and major pressure groups have had many months to make points and raise concerns and suggestions. It is a complex issue and there will always be room for disagreement about details such as boundaries, business impact and the need for exceptions and mitigations to protect the vulnerable but those have been extensively debated and the plan has undoubtedly evolved in response. However, too often in BANES perfect is made the enemy of good to serve political ends and we are concerned that this does not happen here,
Finally, we would ask everyone to remember that this project is, and should be, about reducing pollution sooner rather than later it is not about traffic management or congestion. This is particularly important when discussing the charging regime which is still too often referred to as a congestion charge rather than what it is a levy on polluting vehicles.
If people can make a good case for making the zone bigger and it will not delay the implementation of the CAZ it should be made bigger. A good candidate might be Pulteney Street.
The damage to peoples’ health in the city and incidentally to the historic buildings on which a substantial part of our economic prosperity depends, is substantial and has been allowed to go on for far too long. Fixing this problem should be BANES’s top priority. Charging people a substantial amount of money to bring high emission vehicles into Bath is the only viable way to remedy this with the urgency it deserves. It will incidentally have the minimum impact on commercial activity in the city of any of the proposed more complicated solutions. Our only concern is whether the proposed charge is high enough.
We would support and advocate a number of measures to mitigate the impact on individuals and companies in the short term:
· Extended opening hours at the park and ride
· Overnight secure parking at the park and ride
· Financial support for residents and local businesses within the zone to upgrade from non-compliant cars
· Financial support for local businesses within the zone to upgrade from non-compliant commercial vehicles
Longer term we would support and advocate:
· Public transport improvements on key routes into the city and within the zone
· Smaller park and ride sites along existing bus routes
· Support for local HGV owners to retrofit Euro 4 and 5 diesel vehicles
· An eastern park and ride
· An A36 A46 link