Open Letter to Tim Warren, BaNES Council Leader

23 January 2017

Dear Mr Warren

I am writing to you both in my capacity as a resident of the Mendip ward and as Green Party candidate for North East Somerset. I am asking you to vote against the proposal to build a Park and Ride on Bathampton Meadows.

There are three reasons for this:

1 the Park and Ride is not good value for money

2 there are better options available for reducing congestion in Bath

3 the Park and Ride is out of date technology that will very soon become a white elephant.

Having looked at the evidence, I can see no compelling reason for tarmacing the Meadows - the parking places provided are just that, parking places. Elsewhere similar parking spaces lie empty in Baths Park and Ride locations, growing grass due to underuse. There is not anticipated to be any appreciable change in air pollution or congestion - unless BNES were to acquire powers to force use of the Park and Ride (which seems unlikely!). On a cost benefit analysis, the commitment of £17m of council tax payers money to this scheme seems reckless. Especially when one factors in (as you are bound to do) the loss of amenity of this site and setting to the city.

Instead, I believe that the money should be spent looking at ways of reducing unnecessary car journeys to Bath - such as enabling local and independent retailers to sell online and actively promoting local bus and train services and indeed revitalising those faced by cuts or already reduced. The Discovery Card scheme could be extended such that visitors arriving by public transport receive a further discount. There could be an active car sharing scheme for parents bringing children to school or for commuters with traffic measures to promote this. The reduction of car traffic into Bath is not achieved by building more parking spaces - we know that. It is reduced only by taking a holistic and creative approach that encourages people to visit and spend money in the city, just not by car. I do not believe that BNES has exhausted these means and so the spending of £17m constitutes a waste of money.

Finally, the Conservative Government is investing heavily in self drive car technology, including welcoming Google into the UK. All indicators point to self drive cars having revolutionised the way we travel within  5- 15 years. Other nations are setting deadlines for the transition to electric vehicles. Car parks will be unnecessary - all the land laid out in Bath to car parking will become unnecessary. We will see fewer domestically owned vehicles, with a dramatic reduction in deaths from air pollution and road traffic accidents. The world is changing - for the better - and Bath could be one of the main beneficiaries of this change, with quieter roads that do not detract from the beauty and history of the city. In this new world, coming as quickly as it is, we will look at the Park and Rides and think of them as White Elephants.

But it will already be too late - Bathampton Meadows will have been sacrificed to the short term desire to tarmac.

In short, the proposed Park and Ride not only is poor value for money but fails to meet the present needs of the city or surrounding areas. In the very near future, those that authorised the tarmacing of the Meadows will be seen as lacking in vision and worse, accused of vandalism.

For all these reasons I am asking you to vote against the scheme tomorrow.

Yours sincerely

Sally Calverley 

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