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Keep the Economy Moving

What looks like the beginning of a successful roll out of the Covid vaccination programme could be the prelude to a return to something like the life we used to call “normal”.

It remains to be seen quite what the new normal will look like, but one thing I think we can be certain of is that it will involve a lot more moving around than at present. So it’s very timely that Bath and North East Somerset Council is starting a consultation period into what our transport system should look like in the next few years.

Cabinet members say “we need to radically rethink the way we get around if we are to tackle the climate and ecological emergency … cut congestion, reduce emissions and become less reliant on our cars and walk or cycle more instead”.

Those are admirable sentiments, but we also have to think about tackling the economic emergency which poses a threat to the whole community, including the Council, which needs a strong business sector to generate the funds it needs to run things like social care. It will be enough of a struggle to re-vitalise the city centre without making it even more difficult for people who want or need to come into Bath in their cars. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of people will be living on the outskirts of the city or in our rural areas and they will not be able to rely on public transport any time soon.

Our members have regularly said they have no objections to things like greater pedestrianisation in the historic centre but only providing suitable parking and reliable public transport are in place first. There will always be transport problems if you put the cart before the horse, so to speak. It’s vital to get mitigation measures in place before you start to impose restrictions if Bath is not to gain a reputation as being anti-car.

Residents, workers and visitors all have a part to play in producing a sustainable local economy and the interests of all three groups should be taken into consideration when formulating long term plans. So I very much welcome the consultation period and I really hope there is a broad response to it from a range of people who may have different views. This is much too important a subject for it to only be approached with some ready cooked opinions so please get involved and have your say. If you stay silent and you don’t like the outcome you’ll only have yourself to blame.


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