Open Letter to the Leader of BaNES Council, Cllr Kevin Guy

16 July 2021

Cllr Joanna Wright

 

Dear Cllr Guy, Leader of B&NES Council

Will you restate the council’s commitment to walking and cycling and recognise that keeping traffic moving goes against everything that this administration has been working to achieve?

At Friday’s (15th July 2021) Cleveland Bridge repair closure meeting on mitigation’s measures, held for ward councillors, parish councillors and local residents, the cabinet member for transport, Cllr Rigby, stated that “we need to keep traffic moving.”  This statement is alarming, as it works against the council’s commitment to walking and cycling and was the traffic policy of the former cabinet member for transport, Cllr Anthony Clarke, some years ago.

It is therefore interesting that you are quoted in the press release (see below) as attending the UK 100 ‘International Net Zero’ event with Cllr Warren, the Deputy Leader for Climate Emergency and Sustainable Travel, where you stated: “Through our Liveable Neighbourhoods proposals to create connected, healthy communities across B&NES, we will reduce the use of cars for short trips and improve health and wellbeing.”

It has been shown through many research projects that the act of ‘keeping traffic moving’ actually creates more traffic and increases the use of cars for short car journeys. As a council that has signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals (the UK100 have also signed up), you are no doubt aware that the main goal is that more trips are non-motorised (walking and cycling) or using public transport, and that the climate emergency requires all sections of society to reduce their carbon output by reducing surface transport.

B&NES Council has already stated that data shows approximately 42% of all car journey in Bath are for journeys of less that 3km, and  “Now, more than ever, we must encourage daily physical activity to help boost health and well-being, and protect us from the worst effects of Covid-19”.

The closure of Cleveland Bridge gives a rare opportunity to encourage the act of walking and cycling, but the cabinet member for transport is saying that “we need to keep transport moving”.  This is a clear change of direction for transport in B&NES and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).  The Joint Local Transport Policy (JLTP4) shows a clear commitment from B&NES at a regional level to enable walking and cycling, and it recognises that ‘the need to keep vehicles moving’ enables pollution, congestion and greater use of cars.  Academic research proves this (see the Royal Society article)

Bailbrook Lane in Lambridge has for many years been a no through road. This ‘no through’ road has no pavements or measures in place to stop drivers misusing this narrow lane, and residents have for many years requested support. Some residents were involved in a study with University of Bath in collaboration with Transition Larkhall in 2017, which undertook quantitive data gathering due to the ongoing “rat running” issues. The result can be seen here: via this link. The lane has a large number of families with young children who are unable to walk or cycle safely and the closure of Cleveland Bridge has increased misuse of this no through lane.

At Friday’s meeting I did challenge Cllr Rigby’s comment, pointing out that the main priority of the council is its duty of care to protect residents and that keeping traffic moving goes against present transport policy. It was made quite clear by the Deputy Leader, Cllr Warren, that only through consensus in the community will a Liveable Neighbourhood option be used.  As ward councillor for Lambridge I am aware that there are no Liveable Neighbourhood schemes in development for my ward, although a Liveable neighbourhood pro-forma was sent to the Council in April 2021 on behalf of Lambridge residents.

As ward councillor for Lambridge I am at a loss as to how consensus will be reached in a community where there is no action or scheme for a Liveable Neighbourhood, whilst having to endure large lorries and vans, and extra drivers due to the repairs on Cleveland Bridge. It would appear that this press statement is just another rhetorical ‘PR exercise’ from the council, claiming a greener that green agenda, when in reality the cabinet member for transport is steering a car centred agenda.

A clear request is being made from local residents for immediate action to support safe travel due to the repairs taking place on Cleveland Bridge, to protect the community from vehicles that are not meant to be passing front doors, as well as a Liveable Neighbourhood pro-forma supplied outlining the problem. The response from the Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Rigby is that we need to keep vehicles moving, which is in contravention to the stated aims of this Council. This statement is further alarming when Cllr Rigby has openly opposed a bus gate on North Road and the culture change that would be enabled from this infrastructure scheme that has support in the community.

I look forward to you restating the council’s commitment to walking and cycling, and recognising that keeping traffic moving goes against the Climate Emergency and your many press statements.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Joanna Wright

Green Party Councillor for Lambridge






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