Row over timing of ban on through traffic in Bath
Rival politicians have locked horns over the timing of a controversial ban on through traffic in the centre of Bath.
Conservative councillors have called for other traffic improvements to be completed before the through route ban on cars using Dorchester Street and Manvers Street is implemented.
But Bath and North East Somerset Council's ruling Liberal Democrat leadership says action is needed now.
The council wants to get through traffic out of Dorchester Street and Manvers Street, while making Green Park Road and Rossiter Road two-way streets.
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The aim is to reduce the number of cars in the area around the bus and railway stations and remove traffic from Widcombe Parade.
Conservative politicians say that they support an experimental ban in Dorchester Street and Manvers Street, but that work on Rossiter Road should be completed first, to avoid causing gridlock, along with the widening of the junction of North Parade Road and Pulteney Road.
Conservative group deputy leader Councillor Anthony Clarke (Lansdown) said: "It's right that the council should look into what traffic schemes could be put in place to improve traffic flows and tackle congestion.
"However, the timing of these plans has to be got right or else they could cause gridlock. Obviously doing several major road schemes at once risks bringing traffic to a standstill."
He added: "This should be done sequentially and strategically. It is only common sense to undertake one major upheaval at a time."
But council cabinet member for transport Councillor Roger Symonds (Lib Dem, Combe Down) said: "Measures to improve the local environment, enhance safety and make bus services more reliable are required immediately.
"If the council waited until the completion of the Rossiter Road scheme to conduct the no-through-traffic experiment on Dorchester Street, people will be waiting an awful long time to see whether this scheme is effective.
"Rossiter Road is not due to be completed until the end of 2013 at the earliest.
"This is not acceptable in my view. The gridlock and safety issues outside the bus and train station must be tackled now.
"If the experiment causes problems then it is within the council's gift to stop it quickly, and we would consider other ways to reduce traffic in the main shopping and visitor areas in the city centre."