Friday, 30 May 2008

Southgate pedestrians at risk

City centre Councillor Andrew Furse (Liberal Democrat, Kingsmead) has criticised the Cabinet member for Major Projects for his failure to sort out the pedestrian hazards and other problems which have been caused by the Southgate works.

Councillor Furse has been actively seeking solutions to some of these problems, raising them with Council highways officers in January during a site visit. A list of crossing deficiencies and pedestrian safety hazards were communicated to the Cabinet member through the Southgate Project Board as long ago as February. Subsequently, Councillor Furse received assurances that a number of short, medium and longer term solutions would be undertaken before the end of March 2008. However, two months later, only a substandard improvement to the temporary crossing on Manvers Street has been implemented.

Councillor Furse commented:

“The Cabinet member is failing in his responsibility to ensure that Major Project works run smoothly. The Cabinet member’s failings on the Southgate works include:

1. Promised pedestrian improvements to the crossing layout and access-egress to the railway station have not been implemented.

2. Local businesses are not being kept informed and are suffering loss of trade from being ‘barricaded off’ – some have closed.

3. Health and Safety issues: the need for pedestrian protection from building works on and near to the highway has been ignored.

“All these issues rest with Cllr David Hawkins (Conservative, Lansdown) as the Cabinet member responsible for the Major Projects section of the Council. Adequate resources are not being allocated to the Southgate site to ensure that the contractors are operating within health and safety guidelines. Pedestrians are still exposed to circuitous and hazardous routes around the works.

“Furthermore I am frequently being contacted by local businesses who are being kept in the dark on progress of the works and on the access improvements they desperately need. The Cabinet member is clearly not concerned with the plight of the local businesses around the Southgate site.”

“Southgate is the development which has an impact on the most people, but it is not the only development for which the Cabinet member is responsible; he is also in charge of Bath Western Riverside, where there is a distinct lack of progress with residents being kept in the dark, and the new Council offices on which the Conservatives are planning to spend £38M. The Council should be looking at ways of more flexible working in the offices already in existence.

“On all these major projects Cllr Hawkins has failed the residents of B&NES, not only costing them money, but more seriously putting them in hazardous situations. It is clear he pays no attention to detail and it’s clearly time for him to step down.”