Bold Liberal Democrat plans to finally fix Bath’s traffic and pollution problems have been given crucial support by the Government today. It has welcomed the Bath Transport Strategy which includes plans for a new railway station, dubbed Bathampton Parkway, with a large hidden car park. This is the clearest indication yet that the scheme will get the green light.
The Transport Strategy, which was adopted last month, includes a visionary Park & Rail scheme. This will mean that local residents and commuters arriving from the East of the city will avoid the current stop-start struggle into the city along London Road. Instead they will be whisked into Bath in just 4 minutes on trains running four times an hour. A knock-on benefit to Bath residents will be significant reductions in traffic and pollution.
Parliamentary candidate for Bath, Steve Bradley, recently visited Bathampton with Nick Clegg to explain Bath’s desperate need for the schemes, leading to today's announcement. Steve commented:
"I want to make Bath even better, and I believe that these schemes will make a massive difference to the everyday lives of people in and around the city."
Leader of the Council, Councillor Paul Crossley, added:
"This very positive announcement allows us to move to the next level with this project, one that the LibDems have championed from its inception. There will, of course, be full public consultation on these schemes."
And speaking up for B&NES residents who live outside the city, Wera Hobhouse the Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset said:
"Bathampton Parkway Station will be a great help to people who live in the South or East of Bath. It will be much easier for them to get into the city or Bristol and beyond. To get a brand new station in our area is fantastic."
Today's government statement on the National Infrastructure Plan can be seen here: LINK.
The section on Bath reads as follows: "Bath City Centre Congestion Relief: The Government welcomes the strategy put forward by Bath and North East Somerset Council and the West of England LEP to improve transport capacity East of Bath and reduce city centre congestion. The government will consider a business case, which will be developed by Bath and North East Somerset Council that assesses the viability of proposals including a park and ride, as well as a park and rail service, located to the East of Bath."
On Friday night in Saltford Hall, North East Somerset Liberal Democrats selected former teacher and Paulton resident Wera Hobhouse as their candidate for the General Election in May 2015.
Wera has a long record of successfully campaigning on local issues, having saved library buildings and helped deliver play areas when she was last a Councillor. The Hobhouses are an old Somerset family, and Wera moved to Paulton with her husband so that they could be closer to older family members once her children had grown and left home.
Wera said, "I'm absolutely delighted to have been selected to stand up for local residents in North East Somerset. We have such a wonderful variety of towns and villages across this area, with different heritages and priorities. I want to promote a thriving economy for these areas, so that employers are attracted not just to Bristol or Bath but to our home too. That's why I support the Lib Dem-run Council who have got the regeneration projects in Radstock, Keynsham and elsewhere off the ground."
She added, "As a former teacher, education is one of my top priorities. The Lib Dems have invested an extra over £10million in BANES schools, funding teaching assistants, IT systems, school trips and more. I want to see that keep making a difference, and to make sure teachers' voices are heard when it comes to making policy changes."
Wera is also a strong environmental campaigner, and has supported the successful Liberal Democrat campaign to prevent fracking in Bath and North East Somerset.
On hearing the news, Paul Crossley, Leader of BANES Council said, "I am thrilled that Wera has been selected to champion the people of North East Somerset. I know she will fight tirelessly for residents across the area, and will be a brilliant voice for them."
Liberal Democrats in Bath have welcomed the news that the Cleveland Pools Trust has won its bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Cleveland Pools are a significant part of the UK’s history and heritage, being the only surviving Georgian lido in the country.
This funding will enable the team there to get the Pools back to their glory days when the pools were open to the public for outdoor swimming.
The Liberal Democrat administration on B&NES Council backed the Cleveland Pools bid with a pledge of £200,000 towards the match funding requirement for this scheme.
Ann Dunlop of the Cleveland Pools Trust commented:
“I have to say that the current Lib Dem administration have made the big difference to our success by pledging to support us if we got the HLF grant. Many councillors had supported us when in opposition and continue to do so in a variety of ways now for which we are extremely grateful.”
Steve Bradley, PPC for Bath, who has volunteered at the Pools, said:
"Cleveland Pools are a real historical gem, and one of Bath's best kept secrets. The community group behind it deserve huge credit for bringing this piece of national and local history back to life."
TV historian Dan Snow was in Bath this week, collecting signatures on the "Let's Stay Together" open letter to Scotland, ahead of the referendum on independence next month.
Notable public figures including Sir Mick Jagger, Dame Judi Dench, Sir David Attenborough and Tom Daley have all been brought together by Dan Snow and fellow TV Historian Tom Holland to say to Scotland: "We want to let you know how very much we value our bonds of citizenship with you, and to express our hope that you will vote to renew them. What unites us is much greater than what divides us. Let's stay together."
Dan Snow, commented: “I feel passionately about Britain and everything we've achieved together throughout our long shared history across these islands. I don’t have a vote in the Scottish referendum but I certainly have a view and I really hope that our shared country stays together."
Dan Snow is pictured with Councillor Paul Crossley (Southdown) signing the letter.
If you would also like to sign the open letter, please visit www.letsstaytogether.org.uk. The Scottish Liberal Democrats are also collecting signatures from South of the Border, and you can view that campaign here: www.libdems.org.uk/why_stay_petition