Employers in Bath and the surrounding area could be encouraged to put on free transport for staff who finish work late at night.

At a full meeting of Bath and North East Somerset Council on November 30th, Councillors voted unanimously to back Unite the Union’s “get me home safely” campaign at their full Council meeting on November 30th, resolving to use their licensing powers where possible for “encouraging venues to provide free transport home for night shift employees.”

Tabling it as a motion from the Labour opposition on the Council, Radstock Councillor and Unite member Lesley Mansell said: “Research shows that women feel particularly vulnerable travelling to and from work, waiting at bus stops in the dark or walking home at night, or parking in an isolated spot.”

She added: “The night time economy is often linked to violence — not a safe place to be. And here, we have got less public transport.”

The motion also saw the Council resolve to lobby the area’s MPs for government action on taxi standards, and for the Council to campaign against cuts to public transport and support off-peak and night time services and bus franchising.

Midsomer Norton North Councillor Shaun Hughes, who owns nightclub Fat Sams in the town, said: “I think its right that employers should take their responsibility seriously and ensure that staff can get to and from work safely, but its also important that this Council put in place the right measures and safety environments for people to travel.”

He said that a Council working group, convened after the murder of Sarah Everard in London in 2021, which had identified needs for more street lighting, CCTV, and marshalls but added: “After two years, not a lot seems to have changed. So although I will be supporting this motion, I think we need to broaden the scope of what we are doing here.”

Mr Hughes added that staff at Fat Sams were escorted to their vehicles by security after work and that, with no buses available, their wages reflected that they needed to drive. But Councillors added that the issue affected more people than just those in the night time economy.

As the Council meeting stretched past 9pm, Clutton and Farmborough Councillor Sam Ross said: “I couldn’t park in the centre; I have had to park at the park and ride which ended 10 minutes ago, even though its on an extended today. Which means I’m going to have to get the X39 which will drop me quite a distance from, and a walk up to, the park and ride, and I have also had to park in a very dark area.”

She added: “In addition, the local bus that takes about an hour and a half to get back to mine finishes at half past nine, so there is an issue even for people in this chamber to get to and from.”

Ms Mansell said: “It affects a lot of us, and it affects a lot of us in different ways.” She added that similar motions had been passed at many Councils including Somerset, Plymouth, Manchester, North Tyneside, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Glasgow, and Edinbrugh.

Ms Mansell was the Labour candidate for West of England Metro Mayor in 2017, coming second to Conservative Tim Bowles. Since 2021, the Metro Mayor has been Labour’s Dan Norris, with whom the Liberal Democrat-run Council has been involved in a funding row over who should pay for publicly-supported bus services.

An amendment from the Liberal Democrat group on the Council, accepted by Labour Councillors, added a specific reference to the West of England Metro Mayor into the wording of the motion.

Leader of the Labour opposition on the Council, Robin Moss, said: “Please be assured that the Labour group, if this is passed, will be lobbying the mayor just as forcefully as other members of this chamber.”

Deputy Council Leader Sarah Warren said: “Safe, affordable public transport running until late at night to all destinations is essential to our district’s vital evening workforce.

“I call yet again upon our West of England Metro Mayor to rethink his plans for expenditure of the £57m of government allocation for buses.

“He recently over-ruled proposals jointly put forward by Councillor Guy, the leader of South Gloucestershire, and the Bristol Mayor, and is frittering the funds away on giant photos of himself and his dog, additional services for already-well-served city routes, and the failing WESTlink.”

LDRS, John Wimperis