Expensive ‘shared space’ in Bath?

The Council in Bath is planning to spend £1.2m of taxpayers’ money on a ‘shared space’ in the city centre, which according to reports will consist primarily of levelling pavements and kerbs along several streets, and re-paving the area. Now, I can’t say I’ve noticed local residents or traders clamouring for this expenditure – marching along the streets with banners demanding a ‘shared space’ for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. In fact, many are speaking out against it.

Although Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) says they have consulted disabled groups about the design of the shared space, many locals I have spoken to are against it for practical reasons. A lack of differentiated road and pavements can be treacherous. ‘Accessibility should be what underpins any plans, not whatever cyclists want with anyone else being expected to like it or lump it,’ says one disabled resident. ‘Many places no longer allow plans for shared spaces because it has now been recognised that they are dangerous.’

But despite the lack of desperate need for such a project – and active criticism of it – Bath residents are getting it anyway.

‘It links to the priorities of the emerging wider transport strategy Getting Around Bath,’ says a B&NES spokesperson, ‘which will emphasise sustainable travel to reduce congestion and support the long-term economic strategy for the area.’ Whatever that means!

This is the same council that is shutting public toilets that people actually want and care about. And the same council that is happy to keep raising parking fees, which nether residents nor traders want.

Now, if only that ‘shared space’ money could be shifted into dealing with real concerns, then we’d all be a lot happier in Bath. But, apparently, that’s not the way government likes to use our money… is it?

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