Bath Voice News – Letter to the Editor: cross-Party Challenge to the Southlands Liveable Neighbourhood Scheme

Dear Sir, I am writing as the Leader of the Opposition and Labour Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, and as the Lead Call-In member of a cross-party group concerned about the Southlands Liveable Neighbourhood Scheme.  Councillors have now laid a cross-party challenge to the Council’s decision to make the Southlands ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ traffic order (in Weston, Bath) permanent. This will be heard at the climate scrutiny panel on Monday 19th February at 10am in the Guildhall.

Cllr Robin Moss

The first three Liveable Neighbourhood trials in Bath have attracted controversy, with this one in particular attracting significant local opposition – 71% of consultation respondents were against it.  The councillors’ challenge (called a ‘call-in’) is on four grounds and states:

“While we support the urgent need to reduce pollution and tackle the climate and ecological emergencies, the manner of this specific intervention is fundamentally flawed:

1.     We note that the two other ETRO [Experimental Traffic Regulation Order] trials had a majority of consultation respondents in support, which is why we are not including those in this call-in

2.     The Council’s consultation found 71% of 322 respondents objected to, and only 26% supported, the trial ETRO

3.     Evidence to support the ETRO appears weak and the consultees felt strongly that it resulted in increased journey times, pollution and isolation, and had negative impact on residents’ wellbeing, explicitly the elderly, disabled and less wealthy.

4.     A significant number of respondents (37) proactively expressed concern about the consultation’s quality

5.     During a time of unprecedented pressure on local government budgets and a cost of living crisis, spending £13.7k of tax-payers’ money on an unwanted and controversial intervention is not a wise use of public money, when directly improving public wellbeing should be among the administration’s top priorities.”

The call in has been signed by a cross-party group of BANES councillors: Colin Blackburn; Chris Dando; Sarah Evans; Alan Hale; Gavin Heathcote; Shaun Hughes; Eleanor Jackson; Grant Johnson; June Player; Karen Walker; and Tim Warren.

Independent Councillor Group’s spokesperson, Cllr Shaun Hughes (Midsomer Norton North), said that “these decisions are supposed to be evidence based and go through a worthwhile public consultation. The Council needs to listen to locally affected residents prior to making these decisions that affect people’s quality of life.” The Leader of the Conservatives, Cllr Tim Warren (Midsomer Norton Redfield), has said that it is “without evidence that this scheme would improve the lives of residents, when actually the total opposite is more likely to be the case. We felt it should not be imposed upon residents when 71% of respondents opposed it.”

Labour wholeheartedly supports the principle of reducing pollution to save our planet. But when almost three-quarters of local respondents say they’re against it, it can’t be seen as a good use of £13,700 of public money, which could be better used to help people struggling with the cost of living.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Robin Moss, Opposition Leader (Labour, Westfield)

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