Rat runs fears of air zone charges

Bath Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE -

Pe­ti­tion signed by 1,800 peo­ple calls for a halt to be put on ‘tax on the poor’ Out­rage over gov­ern­ment plans to ‘claw back’ £500,000 from charge paid

Res­i­dents who live on roads that will in­evitably be­come rat runs when driv­ers at­tempt to dodge the new clean air zone in Bath are fum­ing. Coun­cil­lor Richard Sa­muel said Bath and North East Som­er­set Coun­cil needs a com­pre­hen­sive plan for deal­ing with routes that will be used as di­ver­sions, po­ten­tially mak­ing the en­tire Bath road net­work “un­man­age­able”. The zone bound­ary has been al­tered since it was first pro­posed adding some new ar­eas and re­mov­ing oth­ers. Speak­ing at Mon­day’s com­mu­ni­ties, trans­port and en­vi­ron­ment scru­tiny panel, Cllr Sa­muel said: “There will be high lev­els of di­ver­sions from driv­ers try­ing to avoid the charge. That’s go­ing to cause prob­lems all over the city. “It will cre­ate a lot of un­hap­pi­ness. Peo­ple have al­ready worked this out for them­selves. “The coun­cil has to pro­duce plans that could stop that. It’s a ma­jor de­fect of what’s be­ing put for­ward.” He said roads out­side the pro­posed clean air zone - many of them nar­row and packed with parked cars - will suf­fer “mas­sive” and “un­man­age­able” dis­place­ments of ve­hi­cles try­ing to dodge the charge, as he would do him­self. Among the streets he cited was Bel­grave Cres­cent, where it is “im­pos­si­ble for any vol­ume of traf­fic to go down”. “Res­i­dents there are ex­tremely an­gry,” added Cllr Sa­muel. “That’s likely to be re­peated all over the city.” He said the coun­cil needed to an­a­lyse how the dis­placed traf­fic would af­fect dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties at a road-by-road level. “There needs to be an ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tive to the pri­vate car,” said Cllr Sa­muel. “That has to be buses. The is­sue is about ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties not hav­ing ac­cess to ser­vices at all. Within the city, whole ar­eas sim­ply aren’t cov­ered by the bus net­work. Some jour­neys are im­pos­si­ble - there’s no east-west ser­vice to the RUH.” Since the zone bound­ary has changed af­ter it was first pro­posed some res­i­dents said they wanted to be in­cluded, oth­ers were cer­tain they did not. The coun­cil said it wants to set a bound­ary that works for the Bath com­mu­nity. En­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and li­cens­ing man­ager Cathryn Brown said: “We’re un­der no il­lu­sions about the sig­nif­i­cance of these pro­pos­als. “We recog­nise the im­pacts both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive to peo­ple who live, work, com­mute and run busi­nesses in bath and the wider North East Som­er­set area. “We need feed­back from the com­mu­nity to get an­swers.”

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