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Wiltshire Council attempts to politicise Bath Clean Air Zone

April 1, 2021 4:54 PM
By WC (edited)

In the run-up to the local elections, Wiltshire Council has publicly shared its correspondence with key figures on Bath Clean Air Zone (CAZ) after agreeing to do so in its Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 16 March.

Wiltshire Council has adopted a petulant approach to the CAZ, instead of working constructively to deal with any extra traffic coming into the county.

Here's the WC release. My comments in italics:

The correspondence begins in 2018, with emails between Wiltshire Council and Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) officers and Wiltshire Council's official response to the CAZ consultation. This is followed by a 21 November 2020 letter from the Leader of Wiltshire Council, Cllr Philip Whitehead, to his BANES counterpart at the time, Cllr Dine Romero. It also includes letters to Dr Andrew Murrison, MP for South West Wiltshire; Rebecca Pow MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at Defra; and Rachel Maclean MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport.

The CAZ sees some vehicles that do not meet emission standards charged to enter some parts of Bath. Private cars are not charged, but many trucks, lorries, vans and HGVs have to pay a charge to enter the zone.

The council remains concerned that many drivers will reroute through Wiltshire communities to avoid paying the charge, potentially aggravating issues with traffic congestion and air quality.

The CAZ came in a fortnight ago. We should know by now how many and whether that potential is real or not.

Terence Herbert, Chief Executive of Wiltshire Council, said: "Following discussions in a Cabinet meeting, we have shared our correspondence with BANES, Defra, the Department for Transport and the MP for South West Wiltshire regarding the Bath Clean Air Zone.

"While we recognise BANES' desire to improve the air quality in the city, we want to ensure that this doesn't have the knock-on effect of making the air quality in West Wiltshire worse, particularly in Bradford on Avon and Westbury.

HGV traffic is not allowed through Bradford on Avon as there's a weight limit on the bridge.

"We'll continue to work with all partners to push for sufficient monitoring of both traffic volumes and air quality in West Wiltshire so we can measure the effect that the Bath Clean Air Zone is having in our county."

You don't need to 'work with partners to push for' Terence: you're the chief executive of Wiltshire Council - you can just go ahead and do it.

People can view all the correspondence here: