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CLEAN AIR ZONE: Council ‘open minded’ on Bath expansion

CLEAN AIR ZONE: Council ‘open minded’ on Bath expansion

Image: LDRS

Council bosses are “open-minded” about expanding Bath’s Clean Air Zone to tackle issues it has created but it would not be a quick fix.

After becoming the first outside of London when it launched in March – following one of the biggest consultations ever seen in Bath and North East Somerset – residents have complained it has displaced traffic and created new rat runs.

Councillor Shelley Bromley said a lot of noncompliant vans had started using Weston as the main route from the M4 and asked if the boundary was likely to be reviewed.

Zone manager Cath Brown told the climate emergency scrutiny panel meeting on June 21: “We need to see where we are in a year. Changing the boundary is quite involved.

“We would need to have a public consultation and do further modelling and assessment.

“It isn’t something that can be done quickly. We have to think of the economic and social impacts of changing the boundary including more people in the clean air zone.

“However, we’re open minded to it.

“In the first instance if there was an issue of displacement we would try to find a local solution to deal with it that we could implement more quickly.

“I’m not saying it couldn’t happen but it would be something we’d really have to think about and plan for.”

Private cars entering the zone are exempt from charges but drivers of non-compliant vans, taxis and private hire vehicles face a £9 daily charge, while those behind the wheel of a bus, coach or HGV have to pay £100 a day.

More than 54,000 charges have been paid so far and some 28,000 fines have been issued.

Anyone who fails to pay the charge within six days of entering the zone faces a £120 fine, which would be halved if paid within 14 days.

Ms Brown said modelling ahead of the zone’s launch showed that it was likely to result in more traffic in some areas and less in others as drivers avoided the charges, but she took residents’ concerns seriously.

Deputy council leader Sarah Warren, the cabinet member for climate and sustainable travel, said there had been some “teething issues” but overall the zone’s introduction had been managed successfully.

Words: Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter


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