Answers at Camden’s Question Time
The Association is non-party-political so writing up last Monday evening’s ‘Camden Question Time’ is bound to be treading a fine line. These comments are as I noted from my position as chair of the meeting. There is the opportunity for anyone else to comment upon them. Errors of fact can be corrected on this post.
Generally speaking all our nine issues got support from most of the candidates so whatever the political persuasion of the winners of today’s elections in Walcot, Lansdown and the rest of Bath and NE Somerset we will press our newly elected councillors to take them forward.
Jeremy Labram, Chair
|Issue Title||Description and context||Response summary|
|The Camden Crescent/ Lansdown Road junction||This is a potentially dangerous and awkward 5-way junction without any zebra crossings for pedestrians. Camden Rd is also missing a pavement for pedestrians on the south side, approaching the junction.||There was very little in the responses to suggest something new or novel – it seemed to be an intractable problem, further emphasised from the Chair in that it confronts many visitors who are unfamiliar with the junction. The audience was far more creative. Subways and steps down to Camden Lawn, a mini roundabout, a zebra crossing on Camden Road and a raised table. We are pursuing fresh, independent expert advice.|
|Giving buses priority||On week-days there are 80 bus movements a day along Camden Road and three major pinch-points. This adds up to 240 potential vehicle-to-bus confrontations per day which can also have an impact on pedestrians, wheel chair users and cyclists.||Like the previous issue – this is well known about but little is being suggested. There was a general view that bus use is a good thing and should increase. Therefore, all other things being equal, the situation can only get worse. Residents don’t want less parking spaces. There was talk of bus gates at peak times. The Chair is struck by the disciplines imposed in the village of Stratton on Fosse where the main road is similarly divided into sections by chicanes but there is priority assigned at the entry point to each chicane by give-way signs and road markings.|
|Local bus service subsidy||The termination of the de minimis B&NES Council £39,000 subsidy in 2016 for the looped 6/7 First Bus service doubled bus traffic on Camden Road and had very serious consequences for bus users in Fairfield getting to their local stores in Larkhall and London Road; they now need two buses for a journey for a journey of 1.5 miles.||The candidates were split on this. Necessary savings in these times of austerity on the one hand and remoteness from the local needs of the decision-making fund holders (eg WECA) as well as the ineffective business model with the bus companies on the other apparently could be could be solved by ‘franchising’ according to the Lib Dems. A subsequent reflection on this by the Chair, prompted by the BIG candidate does provoke the question as to how a world heritage city with 6 million outside visitors each year bringing in ‘new money’ every day can be pleading poverty?|
|Pavement Refurbishment||We have provided detailed evidence to the Council of the dangerous reduction in protection afforded by the kerb to the pavement users from both no effective step up on to the kerb and pavements ‘falling’ too steeply towards the road.||This got unanimous support from the candidates as well as a desire to stop pavement parking, which is a national initiative. Bollards seem to be the answer but nonetheless some loading and unloading is necessary on bits of our streets which are so narrow that a blockage is inevitable – which is worse – angst from causing a blockage or the possible risk of pavement damage? The discussion developed further during the next topic.|
|Low Traffic Neighbourhood||We have seen proposals for ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’ that use a combination of approaches to reduce through traffic while allowing residents access. We would like to work with the Council on the feasibility of this for Camden.||This was generally agreed to be a good idea but Labour validly pointed out that the effects of displacement of the issue elsewhere would need be considered, so it is a Bath-wide issue of too many vehicles. So this neatly segued into the next topics of the NE Bath rat run from the A46 and for some parking and riding provision to the east of the city.|
|NE Bath Rat Run||Our report showed that large amounts of traffic from many directions, some involving school-runs and RUH workers, uses a rat-run through Larkhall and Camden to avoid the London Road. This somehow needs minimising during week-day peak times?||There was no challenge to the existence of the problem but the apparent contradiction of many buses making cycling and walking less safe for school children was pointed out by the Greens who suggested that children should go to their local school rather than crossing the city. The use of P&Rs was suggested by the Conservative and a busgate by the Lib Dems.|
|More Park and Rides||Park & Rides on Bath’s outskirts already make an invaluable contribution to the reduction of car traffic congestion and pollution, but to be really efficient, they should run longer hours and their pricing should be per car and not per passenger. All major entries to the city should have one P&R, particularly to the east, as it would reduce the peak-time use of the narrow roads of Camden and Larkhall as rat runs.||The panel was split on this. The past history of the Batheaston Meadows and the proposal of using one of the dual carriageways of the A4 to accommodate a ‘pop-up’ P&R probably caused the most vehemence. This is suggestive of a hot vote winner or loser which might cool down in a week or two’s time. It is a topic much debated UK wide and has developed its own folklore. One new example of this was the belief that making P&Riding completely free will encourage residents to drive out to a P&R, rather than pay for a bus journey or simply walk in. On further examination in the pub afterwards with the proposer this seemed to be most unlikely. BIG made the obvious, but significant ‘elephant in the room type’ comment that unless the alternative to P&R, i.e. inner city parking, is reduced then they will not be properly used – another tough decision for a council The Chair believes this topic must be referred to and considered by those outside the city who are being offered the service – not by residents who have no direct need for it but have everything to gain from it.|
Two further issues the CRA intended to raise but due to time constraints didn’t were:
|Speeding signs||We watch how this street operates and can see that vehicles exceed the 20mph speed limit when they can. The Council has given us the use of a Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS) which will be trialled very soon.|
|Freezing Hill Lane||Traffic, travelling south on the A46 and approaching the roundabout at the A420, is directed to continue to Bath on the A46. The London Road is severely congested and polluted, and drivers use routes through Larkhall and Camden to avoid this. There is another possible, soon to be improved, route via Freezing Hill Lane, currently signposted to the P&R. Would you support additional signage at the roundabout directing traffic to Freezing Hill Lane as an alternative route to the RUH and into Bath?|