Wiltshire’s Liberal Democrats lay blame for increased air pollution off the back of the Bath clean air zone at the feet of the Tories.

Leader of the group, Cllr Ian Thorn said the clean air zone was first outlined when Conservatives held power in Bath, and was agreed upon by a Tory government.

A spokesman for the Lib Dems said that “long overdue” repairs to the Cleveland Bridge and the introduction of the CAZ “may well result in West Wiltshire residents suffering”.

Cllr Thorn said: “Wiltshire’s Conservative-controlled council and Conservative government should have seen this coming. They should have had a plan to deal with it. They don’t.

“Certainly the Lib Dem leadership of Bath and North East Somerset raised with government the need for action and their desire to see no deterioration in neighbouring communities air quality. They urged the government to act. They didn’t.”

The group leader added that the party would work “immediately” with councils impacted to develop an air quality monitoring strategy with B&NES.

Despite the blame being levelled at the council’s current Conservative administration, leader of the council, Philip Whitehead said that Wiltshire had previously had good working relationships with the former Tory B&NES council.

“That is not the case with this administration and I raised in person with their leader in a one-to-one meeting on April 1, 2020, stating categorically that we would allow Cleveland Bridge to be closed temporarily for safety reasons, but for no other reason,” he said.

“You currently have a Lid Dem administration heralding the success of their clean air zone project by exporting their pollution to Wiltshire towns.

“We are taking legal advice on how we can proceed.”

In their response, B&NES wrote that funding for outside monitoring of the impact of the CAZ had been rejected by DEFRA, but was committed to working with Wiltshire over its concerns.