The call-in of the Council Cabinet’s decision on which site should be promoted as a Park & Ride to the east of Bath has been dismissed by the Communities Transport & Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel.
As part of the Council’s open and transparent decision making processes, the recent decision by Cabinet (made at its meeting on 25th January 2017) was reviewed by the Communities Transport & Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel held at a public meeting yesterday, 23rd February.
The Call-In followed a decision by the Cabinet to consider which site should be promoted as a P&R east of Bath.
13 councillors formally asked for the Cabinet Member’s decision to be reviewed – or Called-In.
Some of the reasons for the call-in included:-
- Concerns with how residents were engaged during the consultation process;
- Insufficient consideration of the conclusions from the Policy Development & Scrutiny Inquiry day into alternative integrated transport solutions;
- Too much weight was placed on the report from the Local Development Framework Recommendations;
- The Cabinet report was misleading, incomplete and inaccurate.
The call in process means that an Executive decision, which has been made but not yet implemented, can be scrutinised to check that it was made following the correct evidence and procedures.
The original decision resolved the following:
1. Note that both sites F and B could deliver the required outcomes for a P&R site to the east of Bath.
2. Refuse that site F with 800 or 1,200 spaces should be promoted as the preferred site for a new Park and Ride east of Bath.
A) that site B with 800 spaces should be promoted as the preferred site for a new Park and Ride east of Bath based on the advice in the report, but subject to satisfactory arrangements for the purchase of the site and agreement from Highways England on access.
B) If site B is not deliverable for the above reasons, within a reasonable timescale, then site F should be progressed.
4. Delegate authority to the Strategic Director (Place), in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Transport, to make all necessary arrangements to implement the above, including, as necessary, the appropriation of land under Section 122 of the Local Government Act 1972.
5. Approve all necessary expenditure to enable the site to be secured and requests the development of a full business plan for appropriate executive approval.
6. Fully approve an additional £500,000 to support delivery of the next steps.
To assist in their deliberations, the Panel received a range of written and verbal evidence, interviewed the Cabinet Member for Transport, senior Council officers, and a representative Councillor Alison Millar on behalf of those Councillors who signed the request to review the decision for the call-in request. There was also written evidence from members of the public.
Having considered the evidence, the Panel voted to dismiss the call-in and allow the decision to be implemented as set out.
Cllr John Bull, the Panel chair, said: “The call in meeting was very constructive, with a very comprehensive submission by Cllr Millar for the call in signatories and answers from the cabinet member.
“Several members of the public gave their views which were welcomed by the panel. Whilst some members of the Panel were disappointed that the call-in was dismissed, the majority view of the Panel was that the cabinet member’s decision needs to be implemented.”
Councillor Alison Millar, the lead Councillor on the call-in, expressed huge disappointment at the decision of the panel to dismiss the opposition challenge.
Councillor Millar (Lib Dem, Bathavon North) commented: “The dismissal of the call in is a blow to campaigners against the park and ride. A huge weight of evidence was put forward by speakers calling for the decision to be revisited and explaining why it had not been robustly made.
“This was completely and comprehensively ignored by those members of the panel who voted against the call in.”
“The Cabinet’s original decision from 25 January will now be implemented, but this is not the end of the fight. There are still a lot of hoops for the proponents of the park and ride to jump through, including the planning process, funding and the likelihood of a judicial review.
“The West of England Mayor will also be a game changer as he or she will have extensive powers over transport and planning.”
“I will continue to support local residents to the East of Bath in our fight against this highly damaging and unjustified scheme.”
Councillor Dine Romero (Lib Dem, Southdown), Leader of the Lib Dem group, added: “It was quite notable that three of the five usual Conservative panel members had been substituted.
“Although we are disappointed at the panel’s vote, it was not entirely unexpected, given that at least two of the substitutes had previously spoken out in favour of the park and ride and given that the vote was entirely divided along party lines.”