The future of Bath’s controversial new Park & Ride is being questioned by campaigners after the councillor in charge of transport in Bath and North East Somerset refused to be drawn on the subject.
Speaking on BBC Radio Bristol on Friday, 23rd June, Cabinet member for transport Anthony Clarke refused to give a clear answer when asked by BBC presenter Emma Britton what the latest situation was with the P&R proposal, which has drawn strong opposition from across the city.
Cllr Clarke was asked the question twice by presenter Emma Britton before finally answering that the council wouldn’t be making any new announcement about the project until a new regional plan for the West of England had been agreed.
Campaigners say that agreement on the final plan is not due until July 2018, according to a report going to the new West of England Combined Authority next week, which means it could be another year at least until Bath finally knows if the project is going ahead.
It is now five months since B&NES Council’s cabinet formally decided to build the Park & Ride on one of two sites on Bathampton Meadows. However, within two weeks of the decision, the Council was told by Highways England that the agency could not approve the access to Site B from the Batheaston bypass because it was too dangerous.
Campaigners have this week been told by Highways England, which is responsible for maintaining and developing England’s road network, that it has had no further discussions with the council about either Site B or Site F, the only other site that the council is still considering.
Christine Boyd, of the Bathampton Meadows Alliance, said: “We were astonished to hear that – five months after that decision and almost two years since this whole troubled project began – the council has not even had discussions with the body responsible for road safety about whether Site F would work.”
“We call on the council to come out and tell us once and for all what is going on.”
“The people of Bath and the residents of the three villages need to be told. Is the council still planning to go ahead with this Park & Ride? Or are they hoping to quietly shelve it?”
“So much public money has already been spent on this. We cannot wait another year, until the West of England regional plan is agreed, to find out whether or not it’s going ahead.
“We can’t wait another year for no action on Bath’s traffic and pollution problems – issues that Cllr Clarke himself acknowledged in this interview have gone to the top of the political agenda? Is that going to be left in a vacuum for a year too?”
“We also heard from Highways England that things have changed since 2009, when planning permission was last granted for Site F, and that the Council cannot assume that the approval will be given again without a new assessment.”
You can hear the interview with Cllr Clarke on BBC Radio Bristol here on the iPlayer. It will be available until 22nd July.