Councillors have warned that the early draft of the Council’s new transport strategy contains ‘big gaps’ and that a large amount of work will need to be undertaken to make it fit for purpose.
The Council’s opposition Conservative Group has also said that huge question-marks remain over proposals put forward by the Council’s ruling Liberal Democrats to create a new rail-based Park & Ride facility on the Bathampton Meadows.
Conservatives have promised to drill-down into the Liberal Democrats’ proposals and are pressing for the Council to undertake a proper feasibility study to ascertain whether a rail-based Park & Ride would be deliverable, as well as undertake a full public consultation on the idea.
The comments from Conservative councillors come after the unveiling last week of the Council’s initial Transport Strategy.
Conservative Group Leader Councillor Tim Warren said: “After three years of inaction by the Lib Dems, the fact that B&NES is finally taking steps towards producing a transport strategy is to be welcomed.
“It’s something Conservatives have been pressing for ever since the Lib Dems tore up the Council’s previous transport plan.
“However, there are clearly big gaps in the Council’s current proposals, and I think it’s fair to say that those who saw the presentation felt it was a bit of a damp squib.
“What we have largely heard are either statements of the obvious about the need to improve public transport and reduce congestion, or long-discussed ideas like a Park & Ride or link road to the east.
“What the strategy is still missing are some real proposals to improve traffic flow around the city, particularly for those travelling between the north and south, as well as a greater emphasis on the need to consider Bath’s transport issues within the wider context of B&NES and neighbouring authorities.”
Commenting on the idea of building a rail-based Park & Ride to the east of Bath, Conservative transport spokesman Cllr Anthony Clarke said: “There remain huge question marks over the idea of building a rail-based Park & Ride – not least what its actual cost would be, how it could be funded, how feasible it is, and when it could be delivered.
“What residents want to see are genuine, deliverable solutions to Bath’s transport problems; we don’t want to be led up the garden path with more projects that don’t get off the drawing board and never see the light of day.
“Therefore, we will be pressing for the Council to undertake a feasibility study into these ideas so that we can take a proper judgment on them, as well as a proper consultation with residents.
“Conservatives were at the forefront of calls for a Transport Strategy to be produced for Bath, and so we will continue to endeavour to work cross-party on the Council to help improve upon the initial strategy and try and make it more fit for purpose.”
A spokesman for Bath and North East Somerset Council declined to comment, and referred to a statement from earlier in the week.
In that statement, Cllr Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), Leader of the Council, said: “We’re looking forward to hearing people’s ideas on how to resolve a number of transport issues that affect Bath and the roads in to Bath, so we’re inviting comments from members of the public and businesses.”