Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Bath traffic trap exposed


Bath and North-East Somerset Council may be forced to pay back thousands of pounds of parking fines raised by a notorious traffic trap in the centre of Bath—and the council’s new head of transport finally agrees there is something wrong with the system. For years, Bath taxpayers have been complaining about the inadequate signage in front of a bus gate in the centre of the city in Northgate Street.

Thousands of visitors to the city have been caught out by it, but so far the council were unwilling to do anything about this cash cow, which, in 2010, fined nearly 2,000 drivers in just one month, raising between £60,000 to £120,000. You can see how a council could get hooked on an easy income stream like that, but now, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal has ruled in favour of a fined motorist.

‘I am concerned that there remains a risk that the desired signage,’ said the adjudicator, ‘upon which the council relies may simply be lost or obscured by the surroundings, traffic flow and plethora of other instruction and information being presented simultaneously. I find the restriction was not adequately signed.’

Hooray! And a good criticism of the absurd amount of signage that councils waste our money on disfiguring our city centres. Bath’s new council transport chief agreed. ‘The purpose of installing the bus gate is to stop unnecessary traffic and congestion,’ he said, ‘not lure unsuspecting visitors into a very costly trap.’ It has certainly not been a good first impression for the thousands of visitors who put money into the Bath economy—with many of them vowing never to come back.

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