Bath Bridge, as a local community interest company concerned with promoting the identity of Bath and the quality of life for all who live, work and play in the city, has long been concerned with the transportation and environmental challenges faced by the city. Playing an active role in working with the two legal entities responsible for transportation, namely the city's Council, Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES), and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), through the co-ordination of the 21 member-strong Bath Alliance for Transport & the Public Realm, we remain committed to supporting the city's activities to achieve the vision of Bath that the Alliance promotes - "A beautiful city in a green setting with vibrant public spaces, a historic centre free of all but essential traffic, clean air, good mobility and excellent transport infrastructure."
Bringing together a coalition of Bath organisations established to influence the achievement of excellence in transport and public spaces, we have led and co-ordinated the Alliance for several years now, with two of us, as Bath Bridge Directors, playing a key role in its leadership, firstly, my colleague, Van DuBose and, more recently, myself, Robin Kerr. Having been resident in Bath for over 50 years, I am well-versed in the challenges and issues facing the city's current transportation and am delighted to be working with the Alliance's members to provide a unified voice for many of Bath's key stakeholders with vital shared interests in excellent transport and public realm.
Since stepping in to lead the Alliance, I have sought and held one-to-one meetings with 19 out of our 21 members to capture the main issues and suggestions for next steps. Following these meetings, I met, very helpfully, with joint Cabinet members for Transport, (Cllrs Joanna Wright and Neil Butters), the Council Chief Executive (Will Godfrey), and the Director of Partnership & Corporate Services (David Trethewey) about the organisation which conceives and implements Transport Policy. The Alliance is continuing to urge the Council to develop and deliver a comprehensive, long term transport plan for the city, and offers guidance on the framework for this plan through its Manifesto. In 2014, the Bath Transport Strategy was approved, and more recently, the Council has published five relevant policy documents to reach its target of ‘being carbon neutral by 2030, and to tackle the current climate and ecological emergencies’. Both the Alliance and Bath Bridge welcome this development.
These five documents are:
1. ‘Breathe’ – the introduction of a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) on 15 March 2021.
2. ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods’, covering Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Parking Policy.
revision and Electric Vehicle charging.
3. ‘Partial Update to the Local Plan’, which includes much Transport content. Alliance
comments were submitted (posted on the Alliance website).
4. ‘Bath City Centre Security – Permanent Access Restrictions’, with the aim of
‘keeping the city’s streets and spaces safe and secure from the threat of terrorism’.
5. ‘Bath Transport Delivery Action Plan’ – members of the Alliance’s team took part in a
discussion with the relevant Officers before the Alliance comments were submitted
(posted on the Alliance website).
The Alliance website provides a useful summary of Bath’s Transport Policies, including links
to key documents and more detailed information, which can be found in more recent blog posts on the Clean Air Plan, Traffic Movement and the planned repairs and alterations to Cleveland Bridge. More about the city's challenges and what needs to be done to address them can be found in a remarkable and highly relevant interview with the Cabinet Member for Transport (Cllr Joanna Wright) given on 3 March 2021.
In parallel with all that the city needs to tackle in this critical area, is the need to repair Cleveland Bridge, one of the four major road bridges in the city, and the one which carries most of the HGV traffic between the A36 and A46. This will involve one-way working in April, and total closure for 12 weeks in May. The Council’s diversion plans are hazy, and significant congestion is anticipated, just as the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) begins to operate, which will inevitably lead to pollution outside the legal limits. This is another area in which the Alliance is pushing for greater clarity and action.
Lastly, one of the Alliance’s aims is to persuade the Council to establish a wide-ranging
Stakeholder Consultation body to advise on current major policy developments taking place and those to come, in line with the approach taken by the Bath Transport Commission, chaired by Sir Peter Hendy, a few years ago. We will continue to seek ways of working in partnership with, and supporting, B&NES and WECA in our collective drive to improve our wonderful city's transportation and public realm, and the vision we believe should be adopted by Bath.
If you are interested in talking to the Alliance or Bath Bridge about these matters, please get in touch.
Robin Kerr is Co-ordinator of the Bath Alliance for Transport & the Public Realm and a Director of Bath Bridge