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'We still need a park an ride' says mayor

A city leader says it feels like “heresy” to want a park and ride on the east of Bath after the furore over Bathampton Meadows. 

Plans to build on the unspoilt farmland have been consigned to the scrapheap as it looks set to be transferred to the National Trust for protection in perpetuity. 
But Gerry Curran said councillors had been calling for a park and ride somewhere east of Bath for decades and congestion and pollution remain major issues. 
Transport boss Joanna Wright welcomed its removal from the West of England joint local transport plan (JLTP) but said the region needs to do more to cut carbon. 
Councillor Curran, the current mayor of Bath, told the Bath and North East Somerset Council meeting on February 25 as it adopted the infrastructure strategy: “Not delivering a viable park and ride to the east of Bath is perhaps the biggest failing of B&NES Council since it came into being in 1995. 
“For the first 20 years, all the parties were by and large in favour of bringing it forward as a part solution to congestion and air pollution.
“It’s interesting that now the mere mention of a new park and ride east of Bath is akin to some form of heresy. I fear I’m in danger of offending people by mentioning it. 
“It’s with regret that the east of bath park and ride is to be struck from the JLTP without a report on what the alternatives may be in the future to solve the problems.”
The council was forced into a U-turn after massive opposition to its plans to build a park and ride on Bathampton Meadows. 
The authority is in talks with the National Trust about an asset transfer, and has removed references to a new park and ride on the east of Bath to “intercept traffic on the A4 corridor” from the fourth iteration of the JLTP. 
It will look at turning the park and rides in Newbridge, Lansdown and Odd Down into “interchange hubs”. 
Cllr Joanna Warren, the cabinet member for transport, said: “We’ve removed references to the destructive Bathampton Meadows park and ride. We are committed to addressing issues in the east of Bath and city centre. 
“We’re looking at existing car parks to introduce link and rides, supporting our existing bus services and improving bus infrastructure. 
“We’ve updated references to a south Bristol orbital corridor to a ‘low-carbon corridor’. Building a new road for private vehicles is no longer acceptable. 
“We’re working with the community to develop the right solutions, including walking, cycling and mass transit. 
“The JLTP4 is the most progressive plan to date, and represents a good start on the urgent journey to be carbon neutral by 2030. 
“The JLTP4 is unlikely to be enough. It needs to be seen as an interim plan. 
“The plan is not perfect, however it does allow us to bid for Government funding and secure support for mass transit on the A4, a new railway station at Saltford, and innovative measures to manage demand, including the introduction of low traffic neighbourhoods, possible congestion charges and support for wholesale changes to how we use road space.”
References to the south east Bristol orbital corridor have also been updated – but campaigners repeated their calls for it to be scrapped altogether. 
South Bristol Wrong Road founder Faye Dicker said: “Why engage in a consultation if you aren’t going to listen to the results? 
“We were consulted on lines on a map, and then told they were just indicative. 
“Building roads generates traffic. The climate emergency is a reality now. 
“How can you build a ring road? It will destroy the environment and divide a community. 
“Please remove the ring road from the JLTP. Let’s make the right decision for hundreds of years to come.” 
The plan says Whitchurch felt that the ring road plans were well developed but “only initial modelling options have been assessed at this stage”. 
The council voted to adopt the JLTP4 as an interim plan. 
Work will start almost immediately only the follow-up.

By Stephen Sumner, local democracy reporting partnership

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