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BATH: RPZ plans “unnecessary”

BATH: RPZ plans “unnecessary”

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Shock plans to charge for on-street parking in a quiet Bath neighbourhood have been slammed as “scandalous and unnecessary” and a “complete overreaction”. 

A letter from Combe Down councillor Bharat Pankhania sent this week said many residents had expressed concern about on-street parking in Hansford Square and the nearby roads, and some believe a residents’ parking zone is the answer.

However, the resounding response to Bath and North East Somerset Council’s consultation is that an RPZ is not needed because parking in the area has “never been an issue”.

The authority has selected Entry Hill in neighbouring the Widcombe and Lyncombe ward as one of 15 priority liveable neighbourhood schemes that will see the rollout of a range of measures such as traffic calming, RPZs and electric vehicle charging.

But the proposals appear to have come out of the blue for many in and around Hansford Square, with all but one of the comments posted from the area in the last four days following Councillor Pankhania’s letter.

It included a map showing a possible RPZ between Wellsway and Bradford Road, stretching from Fox Hill in the east and past Hansford Road to Midford Road in the west.

The consultation includes a map where people can “pin” comments to different locations – but it does not stretch as far as Fox Hill.

The letter raises questions about what stage the proposals are at and what is proposed in the other 14 areas. “Co-design” with the community is not meant to happen until February following the current round of engagement.

Hansford Square resident Matt Conibere told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “There will be a lot of people who just aren’t aware of the consequences of this. I think it’s terribly undemocratic. I was shocked when I saw the vast swathe of land.

“We’re two miles outside the city. We don’t have a parking problem. There’s bags of parking. This is another attack on motorists.

“My biggest concern is them trying to close Entry Hill [for a low traffic neighbourhood]. That will push traffic onto Wellsway and add to the congestion.”

One person who responded to the consultation from Hansford Square – where most homes have driveways, garages or both – said: “This is a ridiculous idea. Residents have not been consulted and a few people have had leaflets through their door today with a closing date for today – ridiculous!

“There is no need for a parking scheme here and there has been no consultation with residents. It will just push parking onto the adjoining cul-de-sacs.”

The consultation was due to close on December 20 but the council has extended the deadline so residents have until January 3 to respond.

Councillor Pankhania said that, with the consultation due to close, there was an “urgent matter about allowing residents to choose between having an RPZ or not”.

“It had to be done very quickly,” he said. “It’s forward-thinking. We could get residents’ parking in view of developments that may or may not happen nearby.”

A bike park is planned at Entry Hill, and some have warned of “chaos” if a low traffic neighbourhood blocks off the road to traffic.

Describing the mooted RPZ as “scandalous and unnecessary”, a commenter said: “If this has been suggested because of the new bike park, then surely they should be the ones made to provide enough parking for their customers.

“Why should local residents be forced to pay for a permit to park outside our own houses?”

Parking permits in Bath currently cost £100 for the first vehicle and £160 for the second, but that is set to change in a shakeup that will base the price on emissions.

The letter also had Councillor Pankhania’s Combe Down ward colleague Councillor Gerry Curran’s name, photo and signature on but he said he was unaware it had been sent out.

“I’m all for asking residents their views,” he said. “It would strike me the RPZ for Hansford Square is not required.

“There’s a legal process that would need to be gone through that requires consultation. It’s not just a political party that decides who has an RPZ.

“I’m aware there’s an argument that if you bring RPZs to all the wards of Bath you stop people travelling in and parking in residential streets.

“It’s debatable what that’s trying to achieve. It imposes a cost on residents and complicates things like visitors, deliveries and workmen.”

BANES Council was approached for comment.

Words: Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter

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