Big email write in in advance of Council considering this next Thursday. Haven’t counted but with over 100 against, I have had only 2 in support in my inbox to date. The two Conservative MPs are weighing on different sides and they are all in chaos.
the email coming in states:-
Dear Cabinet Member,
Re: Proposal to site a Park and Ride on Bathampton Meadows
I am writing to ask you to vote against the proposal to proceed with a Park and Ride (P&R) on Bathampton Meadows.
My reasons are as follows …
The proposals are being advanced in the absence of critical and basic information. Such an important decision cannot be made responsibly without substantial evidence of the need for a P&R and full analysis of the impact. For example, up to date information about:
The direction of travel of traffic – where does it come from?
Volume of traffic – Department of Transport statistics show that traffic on London Road has diminished in the last 5 years.
Nature of the traffic – for example, is it ‘through traffic’, including to the A36; commuter journeys; school run; from locations that could use public transport if it was cheaper/more frequent; from the A46 (so already choosing not to use the Lansdown P&R)?
Car park usage in the city – who parks where and for how long?
Consideration of the impact on travel/car parking of developments in IT and distance working, and how current work patterns will change.
Pollution levels in Bath and the anticipated impact on this by a P&R.
The costs (construction and operating) of each site, and put in context of costs of other options such as improved public transport.
How the proposal relates to a link between the A46/A36 – if this goes ahead, would a P&R be needed, and, if so, where would it be best sited?
Other options, not yet considered, e.g. extending the Lansdown P&R for traffic coming from the A46, and creating a smaller P&R on brownfield sites on Box Road, for traffic from the A4 and A363.
The consultation process does not provide a sound basis on which to proceed and is flawed in a number of ways. For example:
The survey form on the council website was confusing and ambiguous, meaning that it can be interpreted according to will.
Those most directly involved, e.g. the farmer who owns the land and Avon Rugby Club, have not been contacted by the council for their views (and, surprisingly, were not even informed of the proposals, undermining confidence in the management of the process).
People have been asked to comment on their preferred option of 3 sites, without supporting information (see point 1 above), or given the option of saying ‘none of these’.
Much of the limited information that has been available is historical, from the time of the previous planning application, and may not be true now.
The information given has been confusing and misleading, for example, a reason being put forward in press releases is that the P&R would ease traffic congestion and improve air quality, yet at consultation events, it has been clearly stated that there would be minimal impact on these issues.
How are people to respond in such confusion?
The suggestion in the public survey is that the sites are separate and ‘stand-alone’, yet the detailed plans show that Site F would be needed to access Site B. This has not been made sufficiently clear, including that it would introduce an access road that would not be able to be screened from surrounding villages.
The strength of feeling against the proposal evidenced by local involvement in meetings and ‘opposition activity’. This is growing daily, in tandem with awareness of the proposals. The campaign to ‘Save Bathampton Meadows’ will remain ‘hot’, and is likely to become a national issue, given the depth of local feeling and gathering resources. The ‘gift’ of a flawed consultation process leaves open the possibility of legal challenge. This battle, for that is surely what it will become, will increase costs to the tax payer at a time of financial austerity, and will presumably mean cuts in other, needed, services. It will also have an impact on the reputation of Bath as a place of beauty and of conservation responsibility.
Finally, and most importantly, the ecological, environmental, archaeological, and public health implications of all three proposed locations. The meadows are located within the Green Belt on the eastern edge of the City and crucial to the setting of Bath as a World Heritage Site. Of historical significance, they offer natural beauty and a public amenity, popular with local and visiting walkers, photographers, and cyclists. This plan is the complete antithesis of a responsible attitude towards conservation of natural resources. These ancient water meadows should be considered in the spirit of stewardship for future generations. They should be cherished and preserved, not turned into tarmac for short term gain that has not even been evidenced to be necessary.
This is a decision of great weight, with significance that will live on for future generations, for the rest of time. It is too important to be taken on the basis of political allegiance. Indeed, the local councillors who know the area and have an understanding of the consequences are fully against the proposals.
In the absence of substantial and compelling evidence to justify the destruction of these ancient water meadows, I urge you to act responsibly by voting against the proposal to site a Park and Ride on Bathampton Meadows.
and my standard reply is :-
Dear Name of writer
Many thanks for your email. When I became Leader of the Council in May 2011 I inherited a scheme from the previous Conservative administration for a park and ride scheme in the Meadows. It had funding in place and also planning permission.
I cancelled it because it was the wrong solution then and it remains the wrong solution now.
Over the following 4 years my administration developed a bold rail based solution and also showed how with new techniques we could also provide an a36-a46 link. This would have provided long term solution to our problems. It would have cost more – yes – but we were always open about this.
Whilst I am not surprised that the new Conservative administration of the Council has reverted to form and is proposing its low cost options I am very disappointed they chose to ignore the scheme we had worked up over the 4 years.