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Council cabinet to consider 'Ring of Steel' to protect crowded streets

But Conservatives call for the plan to be scrapped

On Thursday 20th July the council cabinet will consider steps it says are aimed at reducing the risk of terrorist attacks using vehicles in Bath city centre.

The scheme is designed to restrict vehicle access to crowded streets, while still maintaining access to the city centre for residents, businesses and disabled motorists. Feeding into the discussion will be the findings of an independent Accessibility Study and feedback from a public consultation.

Current proposals are to restrict vehicle access to roads in the city centre between 10 am and 6 pm with controlled access for blue badge holders, carers, and taxis transporting blue badge holders in Cheap Street, Westgate Street, Saw Close and Upper Borough Walls.

Blue badge holders would be allowed to park on Cheap Street, Westgate Street and Upper Borough Walls on double yellow lines for up to 3 hours, subject to space being available, via controlled access. Additional seating would be provided along Cheap Street and Westgate Street to ensure adequate resting space.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat council, Kevin Guy, said:

The feedback we received was that people with accessibility issues would be disadvantaged and residents and businesses felt it was unnecessary for vehicle restrictions to be in place 24 hours a day. We've taken these views on board.

Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for Transport, added:

While there is currently no specific intelligence to suggest that Bath is under increased threat, the current general terrorist threat to the UK is "substantial" which means that an attack is likely and could take place anywhere in the UK.

"Scrap the plans immediately" say local Conservatives

Conservative councillors have responded by calling the proposals "draconian", saying that the independent Access Report and public consultation show how harmful the measures would be. A post on a local Conservative website claims:

These unnecessary measures will leave city centre residents unable to park their cars outside their properties, receive deliveries to their doors or be dropped off at their doorsteps by taxis late at night. The restrictions will also result in Blue Badge holders having to park in Council car parks rather than outside their homes.

The independent Access Report warns that the scheme would result in some people suffering more pain in getting to their destinations, and others with special toilet-related needs not risking the journey at all. Of the 522 responses to the consultation, around 60% were against the proposals.

Conservative councillor Karen Warrington said:

It's now crystal clear just how much people will suffer if these measures go ahead, simply to appease the Lib Dems' anti-motoring impulses.

Is the 'Ring of Steel' really about protecting crowded streets or, as critics claim, more to do with a Lib Dem anti-motoring agenda?

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