6 December 2021
In a recent article on Bath’s “ring of steel” that the Council chief of B&NES, Cllr Kevin Guy, calls appalling and states that he “wasn’t part of the original plans”, that it was a “decision of the previous administration” is somewhat surprising given that Cllr Guy was a full time member of the that previous administration and was regularly kept updated on this work.
Many including Cllr Guy were repeatedly told that it was a not a council led initiative, that the measures being taken forward were to keep everyone safe and that they were recommended by the Home Office based on the level of risk to the historic city centre to counter self initiated terrorism, in particular from vehicles. The present risk level in a crowded place such as Bath is now considered highly likely.
The new measures advocated by Cllr Guy that will allow taxis and blue badge holders is still a security risk. As the part-time cabinet member who led the original consultation I have always appreciated that there is a need for access to the city centre for those with blue badges and for all people with accessibility issues. I recognise that many with accessibility issues have few options to access the city centre as it is one of many locations that has serious surface issues that makes much of the space hostile to many. This was even outlined in the Atkins report that the council commissioned.
It is well known that many individuals who do have accessibility issues also do not own a car or have access to one. Therefore the requirement to make this space for blue badge holders using cars will further prohibit those with accessibility issues who do not have access to a private vehicle from entering the city centre. The group without access to a private vehicle will now not only have to face uneven pavement surfaces, but they will now not be able to use the closed roads which are presently more level and accessible.
What Cllr Guy fails to address is that the city of Bath requires a long term solution to fix its accessibility issues. As a Green councillor I am calling on B&NES Council to initiate proposals to the Government to secure £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund so that the city centre can be made accessible and a safe space for all residents.
In recent weeks it has become all too apparent how important security is where large groups of people gather. Both in Liverpool and in Wisconsin in the USA, cars have killed people. The opening of streets in the city centre of Bath would presently allow private vehicles to have access to a space where many people gather and could easily be used to place a bomb or use the actual vehicle as a weapon to inflict harm. This is the very reason why the city centre security proposal was initiated.
Cllr Joanna Wright
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