The story so far…(allegedly)

With the publication of this Bath Live Article confirming Joanna Wright is no longer cabinet member for transport 😦 , a comment on the Bath subreddit caught my eye:

I understand that Joanna Wright personally pushed for LTNs (Low Traffic Neighbourhoods) to be in the manifesto, so it’s all very uncertain with her gone.

I’m just a regular voter, so I have no information from inside the LibDem party. The full timeline of public events is this:

– LTNs were a major part of the Transport section of the manifesto in 2019

– It’s 2021 now, and we finally have one (!) LTN proposed, which involves closing North Road near the Cleveland Walk junction

– There was some pretty vocal opposition from the local Residents’ Association (which is led by Tories), as well as the administration of King Edward’s School (who sent factually incorrect propaganda to all parents)

– The local LibDem councillors – Manda Rigby and Dr Kumar – sided with the residents’ association, went against their manifesto and started campaigning against the LTN

– The council doesn’t drop the proposal

– Suddenly the BathNES LibDems change their leader (no reason given), and now the person who is the face of the pro-LTN campaign is sacked

Note that road closures, pavement widenings, bike lane design and other stuff like that are “single member decisions”, so whether we will get any LTNs at all depends entirely on who replaces Cllr Wright. [it’s been pointed out to me that this isn’t exactly true – see below]

In any case, if you live in Bathwick – despite being a LibDem voter myself – I’d recommend that people vote against Manda Rigby and Dr Kumar next time.

And, as always, email your local councillors to express your opinion of the events.

Link to Reddit Comment

The real power…

The council was about to walk the walk and look like they are stumbling badly. Whoever is given the role of cabinet member for transport signs off ALL Traffic Regulation Orders. They have ultimate power in all of this. Look at it this way, it makes no difference what a developer decides to build, it still needs to get through planning.

If the role goes to somebody like Cllr Rigby or Cllr Kumar who have sided against a 6-18 month LTN *TRIAL* then this statement rings exceptionally hollow:

Having a backbone

This should raise major concerns among the public. If the council folds in itself the moment there is any opposition from a vocal minority of online, Tory encouraged, trolls with some councillors suddenly experiencing angry emails for the first time, then how is this new cabinet ever going to deliver £2.2m programme of Liveable Neighbourhoods?

It doesn’t help that some of this opposition has come from their own councillors and there is a chance that one of those councillors might end up being the machiavellian kingmaker in charge of signing off all those LTN Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders and, more importantly, deciding *WHEN* to take them back out again:

  • “Here’s your signed off ETRO for your LTN! Go implement it!”
  • “Oh I’ve seen another angry Nextdoor post from Mark Strickland or Joe Scofield wrote another anti-LTN piece.”
  • “Sorry ETRO cancelled after 1 month. Y’know can’t risk losing a bunch of tory voters at the next election.”
  • “Sorry Net Zero 2030? I’m much more worried about Net Zero Votes 2023.”

It’s really simple. Whoever gets Transport will show the direction this council is taking.

Bring back Jo?

Part of me wants to scream “BRING BACK JO!” outside the Zoom Guildhall, but honestly, she needs run as far away from this cabinet as she possibly can. She will still be scapegoated. She has achieved so much despite the actions (and inactions) of some her own councillors. She probably needs time to chill and pull all the knives out of her back.

I think she’d be amazing as the next Metro Mayor‘s Active Travel Commissioner.

What can you do?

As the reddit commenter said, write to your councillor(s). I suspect they would have read this article by the time they get your email 😉

One comment

  1. Well… you said to me two years ago the Cabinet Member for Transport has a two year life expectancy. I doubt it gives either of us pleasure that you were right. I feel rather less optimistic about active travel prospects. And thus we remain a nation of fat kids and fatter adults. Sad.

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