The Bathampton Meadows Alliance has expressed grave concern about “serious omissions and shortcomings” in two reports that are due to be presented to the Council’s Cabinet today regarding a new park & ride for Bath.
The council’s cross-party Scrutiny committee held a public inquiry day in March looking into how to ease congestion to the east of Bath.
During the day the committee heard a range of evidence from transport and academic experts, as well as from council officials and campaigners against the Park and Ride.
The Bathampton Meadows Alliance says the report that the committee has now produced fails to reflect this evidence strongly enough, and that as a result, the cabinet will not have the full facts when they evaluate the options in the coming weeks.
A spokesperson for the BMA, Batheaston parish councillor, Emma Adams said: “These serious omissions and shortcomings in the information that the Cabinet has been given will seriously undermine public confidence in whatever decision the Cabinet makes.
“No evidence was presented at the Scrutiny Day that this Park & Ride would make any real difference to pollution or congestion in Bath, and in fact the evidence that was given instead showed that a Park & Ride would make pollution on the eastern London Road significantly worse. “
The BMA said that the second report, by the Local Development Framework Steering group (or LDF), also failed to take into account the clear evidence that Bath’s three existing P&Rs are underused, and that ‘a fourth P&R would follow a similar pattern, failing to attract commuters or ease congestion’.
Councillors and members of the public attending the public inquiry day were shocked when B&NES Council’s consultants, Mott MacDonald, said the proposed £10million Park & Ride would at most remove 5% of cars on the London Road during the morning peak, and even that figure wouldn’t be achieved until 2029.
Ms Adams continued: “This is a shockingly poor return on taxpayers’ money. Councillors are in danger of approving a costly white elephant because they have not been provided with the evidence that we all heard at the Scrutiny day that this Park & Ride will not achieve their stated objectives.”
The BMA says it is particularly disappointed that the Scrutiny report continued to peddle the myth that Bath’s Transport Strategy commits it to a further Park & Ride.
“Bath’s transport strategy only requires the Council to ‘establish the need for increased Park and Ride capacity’, and this is something that council transport officials have failed to do.”
The BMA has said council officials were instead relying on theoretical models that would require a huge shift in people’s behaviour to make a reality, and were using survey data from 2009 (which says 43% of users are commuters when new data available since 2014 makes clear that only 24% are commuters).
The Alliance said officials had also not done a proper evaluation of where traffic is coming from and why, and who will use a Park & Ride.
“This is despite the fact that they are required by their own transport policy to establish there is a need. Instead the body of evidence which does exist, and has been analysed, leads to the inescapable conclusion that a P&R to the east will not meaningfully contribute to reducing congestion and air pollution.”
“Even the Conservative party manifesto only promised to consult on a Park and Ride, not to deliver one, and it is deeply concerning that a political agenda continues to dominate these discussions.”
The Bathampton Meadows Alliance welcomed the fact that a number of its own recommendations were adopted by the Scrutiny panel, in particular the importance of the impact of air quality.
However, Ms Adams concluded: “This makes it even more surprising that Bath MP Ben Howlett has this week again called for a Park & Ride on Bathampton Meadows when we know that building it will push toxic NO2 levels on the eastern London Road over the legal limit.
“The government’s own policy guidelines no longer recommend Park & Rides. And it comes in the same week that a cross-party committee of MPs has warned of a national health emergency because of air pollution in this country. It is time that B&NES and Mr Howlett listened.”