Conservative councillors on Bath & North East Somerset Council are calling for a rethink to proposed security measures in the centre of Bath following the reduction in the terror threat level.
The Liberal Democrat administration is proposing to restrict access to the city centre 24 hours a day, seven-days-a-week, as well as erecting reinforced bollards and anti-terror street furniture.
On-street disabled spaces in the city centre would be removed, and delivery services including food, parcels and other goods will not have access to properties within the strengthened zone.
Those who need large goods delivered would need to apply for a ‘one-time-use’ access permit, which requires a 20-day notice period.
A consultation on the plans was launched in November last year and extended through to the end of January to gather feedback from residents.
A statement from the B&NES Conservative Group says: “These unprecedented and draconian steps will leave city centre residents unable to park their cars outside their properties, receive deliveries to their doors or be dropped off at their doorsteps by taxis late at night.
“The restrictions will also result in Blue Badge holders having to park in Council car parks rather than outside their homes.”
“The reason for these proposals, according to the administration, is to protect residents against terrorism.”
At the time the proposals were drawn up, the UK’s terror threat level was rated ‘Severe’, though earlier this month it was reduced to ‘Substantial’, meaning an attack is less likely.
Councillor Paul Myers, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “The Lib Dem administration’s plans to completely restrict traffic from the city centre were bad enough when they were first proposed.
“But now the UK’s terror threat level has been reduced, the Council should rethink its plans to ensure residents and businesses are not negatively impacted.
“With the UK economy facing a double-dip recession and the mammoth task of recovering from the COVID pandemic approaching, we should not be implementing measures that could seriously hamper businesses and the Bath economy.
“The Conservative Group is calling on the Liberal Democrats to stop using the threat of terrorism to further their anti-motoring agenda, and to respond to the reduction of the national terror threat level by rethinking their draconian proposals.”
Speaking last November, when the consultation was launched, Liberal Democract Councillor Dine Romero, leader of the council, said: “The council is committed to enabling the on-going recovery of Bath, and the need for security and safety remains a significant factor in re-building Bath’s vitality.
“We appreciate how important vehicle access within the city is for our local businesses, residents and visitors, particularly people with restricted mobility.
“We also know that Covid-19 has had a big effect on the footfall within the city. However, the threat from terrorism within the UK is still significant.
“We’ve been working closely with Avon & Somerset Police to shape proportionate measures to improve security and safety within the city centre to an appropriate level we think will be a big factor in supporting the city’s recovery and future success.”