Introduced by Donald Lovell, Convener, on 9 December 1997
Heavy vehicles come to Bath either to deliver goods or in transit to other places. Major stores, such as supermarkets, operate a 'just in time' regime for deliveries, especially of foodstuffs, and are unable to store on site sufficient for their daily sales. They have deliveries of complete loads in large lorries, mostly in the early hours of the morning. A few smaller shops get small quantities of goods delivered from large lorries during shopping hours, and these lorries cause congestion when they park to unload.
Lorries in transit come to Bath from the Midlands, the Severn Crossing, the London direction and from the South. The two main lines are from the M5 near Gloucester, via Stroud and the A46, or from the Severn Crossing via the M4 and A46, then through Bath to the A36 to the Warminster by-pass for either Poole via the A350 or Southampton / Portsmouth via the A36. Traffic from the London direction also comes via the M4 and A46.
The weight limit for lorries is shortly to be raised to 44 tonnes to match the European standards, so both deliveries and transit vehicles are likely to increase to this weight. These heavy vehicles are quite unsuitable to Bath streets, causing damage to road surfaces, road sub-structures, especially where they go over vaults, buildings, by vibration, and creating pollution by fumes and noise. Because some pavements and roads are narrow they are very close to pedestrians and cyclists and they can also damage pavements by mounting them or running over corners.
Both these problems - of delivery vehicles and transit vehicles - were discussed.
A weight limit of 7.5 or 10 tonnes would prevent the transit traffic but could not prevent heavy vehicles being used for deliveries. It was considered unlikely that the big stores would accept the use of smaller vehicles for 'just in time' deliveries, and, in any case, this would just increase the number of vehicles even if each one was smaller. But these delivery vehicles would cause less damage to roads and houses if their speed was limited to under 20 mph. By restricting the times deliveries were allowed to outside shopping hours the problem of parked lorries could be reduced.
Transit vehicles kept out of Bath by a weight limit could use a variety of alternative routes. Wiltshire County Council are promoting the A350 through Chippenham and Melksham for such traffic and Bath should cooperate with them. Other possible routes are shown on the map and these have been proposed to the coordinating body dealing with traffic in the old Avon CC area.