1. In March 2018 B&NES unveiled proposals to improve air quality in Bath (http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/bath-breathes-2021), with the emphasis on a Clean Air Zone in the city centre. Robin Kerr wrote to the Council Leader and The Chronicle (12 April edition) broadly welcoming the initiative, but making a number of points including the need to address traffic congestion in parallel.
2. The FOBRA Executive will continue its discussions with the Council leadership and officers as the detail of the Clean Air Plan is developed. Attached is a note setting out the lines we propose to take in these discussions. The Chairman took part in an initial discussion with Council officers and their consultants CH2M (now rebranded as Jacobs) on 19 April. The topic will also feature in discussion at the next of Wera Hobhouse MP's transport conferences on 9 June, at which FOBRA will be speaking.
3. A key issue will be the size of the CAZ. We have already commented on the need for the CAZ to cover areas surrounding the city centre in order to prevent the diversion of traffic and pollution onto nearby residential streets. A number of Associations have issues with the boundaries of the CAZ, and will be pursuing these with the Council. This is absolutely right, but it would be helpful if member Associations would keep me informed so that we can draw out city-wide issues, and provide support as necessary. It might, for example, prove sensible for FOBRA to advocate a larger CAZ altogether.
4. The other important issue will be the Class of LEZ. Class B applies to buses, coaches and HGVs; C to LGVs in addition; and D also to cars. Class D would be the most comprehensive, but it would also have the most financial impact on residents, and would particularly affect less well-off car-owning city residents. There are alternative means of reducing city centre air pollution by reducing traffic volumes, such as parking control and traffic management. For example, the bus gate on Pulteney Bridge substantially reduced traffic on Great Pulteney Street; likewise the rising bollard at Lower Borough Walls has greatly improved the environment around Stall Street. That is why B&NES should be urged to bring forward a range of comprehensive packages for consideration.
5. Members' views would be welcome on how best to manage this process. We could, for instance, set up a FOBRA working group with the Associations affected, or it may suffice to rely on email contacts.
6. The Council started work on 16 April on the new long-term coach park at Odd Down. We welcomed this part of the coach strategy, which should alleviate the problem of coaches parking on city streets where as often as not they leave their engines running. Enforcement will still be required to prevent this.
7. It does not, however, address the major problems of coaches dropping off in and driving around the city centre, causing congestion and air pollution. We have yet to see revised Council proposals on these matters.
Patrick Rotheram, Transport Lead 27 April 2018