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Highwood Road petitioners ignored at Full Council

Posted on Friday 20th July 2012 at 12:10 am by SH (Editor)

Demonstration against the impending closure of Highwood Road.

A petition calling on South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) to amend its long-term plan to convert Patchway’s Highwood Road into a bus and cycle-only route and instead allow access to general traffic has been rejected at a meeting of Full Council.

The decision confirms the outcome of a debate at last month’s meeting of the Council’s Planning, Transport & Strategic Environment (PTSE) Committee, where the only concession to the petitioners was a promise to review the scheme after 18-months of operation.

Voting at the Full Council meeting split along party lines, after the Conservative Group had condemned the petitioners’ demands as a “cynical” political stunt.

Two Conservative Patchway District Councillors who had earlier put their names to the petition voted against it at the meeting. They were Cllrs Brian Hopkinson and Sarah Pomfret, both representing Stoke Lodge and Bradley Stoke Central.

The Liberal Democrat Group successfully put forward a motion to additionally allow the new bus lanes to be used by taxis.

Lead petitioner Chris Mills told The Journal:

“After receiving a petition from over 4,100 residents asking for the ten-year-old plan to close Highwood Road to be reversed and one lane to be kept open as a 20 mph road, the leading Tory party dismissed the petition and called it a political stunt, and chose to ignore a large number SGC residents. SGC councillors voted to close Highwood Road to cars and motorcycles for an 18 month trial period.”

“Patchway has in the past been let down by its former Lib Dems district Councillors, Dando, Graupner and Woodley who all supported closing Highwood Road. We were again let down by the Lib Dems at SGC, as they not only sided with the Tories and voted down a proposal to open the road to cars, but concerned with the extra costs that taxis would incur amended the proposal to allow taxis to also use Highwood Road. Unfortunately, Patchway was also let down by its two Tory Councillors from Stoke Lodge, who voted to close Highwood Road – even after signing the petition.”

“I would like to thank the many people who signed the petition, the response far exceeded my expectations and we now start an 18-month campaign to get this mistake overturned and the road reopened”

Cllr James Hunt, SGC Conservative Lead Member for Communities, said:

“Over the last ten years, Labour councillors have gone along with the scheme at every stage of its development and conception. In the last couple of months they have abandoned their position to opportunistically U-turn at the eleventh hour – when more than 90 per cent of the engineering works have been already been completed.”

“Not only this but Labour let down residents by proposing to reverse the development with no mention of the almost £500k cost of reopening the road and amending the planning permission that they previously agreed. Without identifying where this money, the equivalent of £50 from every voter in Patchway, would come from, they cynically put forward an incomplete motion which could only have been rejected.”

“The successful North Fringe to Hengrove rapid transit bid is based upon using a congestion-free Highwood Road to connect Cribbs Causeway with Bradley Stoke and so Labour’s vote was very much a vote against the rapid transit.”

The Journal understands that it will be several weeks before Highwood Road is closed to general traffic, due to the need to advertise revised “temporary” traffic orders that are limited to the 18-month duration of the trial.

Related link: Highwood Road Linear Park (The Journal)

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Tags: Charlton Hayes, Highwood Road, roads

21 Responses to “Highwood Road petitioners ignored at Full Council”

  1. Felix Says:

    £500k? The price goes up every time Hunt opens his gob. He just makes it up as he goes along, ripping off the taxpayer even more at every turn. Is this man really qualified to do his job properly?

    And too right to vote against the Rapid TRansport System. It’s the biggest piece of transport daylight robbery S Glos and Bristol councils have ever come up with. Doomed to fail, mark my words.

  2. Happy Says:

    LETS JUST WAIT AND SEE WHAT ITS LIKE THEN MAKE A COMMENT

  3. Patchway Bloke Says:

    Alls well that ends well then. I don’t feel “let down” at all, and I live in Patchway.

  4. patchwayinsider Says:

    @ Patchway Bloke
    You don’t feel let down because you are one of the Tories who voted to close it!!!!
    and calling yourself Patchway Bloke is a joke, when you have been leading a campaign to leave Patchway for the last 16 months and set up a kingdom of Stoke lodge.

    Problem is Stoke Lodge is too small to go it alone, so you will have to join Bradley Stoke or Stoke Gifford, you let down a lot of people on Wednesday, but that’s what we have grown to expect from you.

  5. Richard Burton Says:

    This road completely divided the community, and caused serious local pollution, therefore it’s closure is to be welcomed. Any type of change to our roads is opposed, e.g. London congestion charging, which was predicted to fail utterly, cause massive problems and would be hated by the population. What actually happened was that there were very few problems, it succeeded well, and the population love it.

    I’m sure that once this scheme is in, most people will find that the doom-mongers were wrong, it works well and they wouldn’t want it removed.

  6. Dave Tiley Says:

    I can’t agree with you Richard, we are only moving the pollution elsewhere, not taking it off the roads, just driving it onto Coniston Road in particular, a more congested road.

    All of us that side of Patchway will use it, it’s obvious.

    I appreciate your views, we met at the SGC election for Stoke Gifford, and I have followed your campaigning in the media and through BUG at Airbus.

    Perhaps if Bovis hadn’t bought that strip of land to close it and have their houses facing out onto it then we could have built decent cycle lanes there instead, but we won’t get people out of their cars until we break First Group’s monopoly here and make public transport affordable.

    However, the deal has been done, decision made, and if time proves this satisfactory to all I will be glad of it, but as the new council we had to pick up what the previous council didn’t, we had no representation at SGC from The Liberal Democrats who did express concern in their reports, but took it nowhere. Residents do have to have their views heard, as do the those with the opposite view who speak on here, which I have personally found to be in a minority when out and about. We didn’t have to push this petition, believe me it pushed itself.

  7. David Smith Says:

    Dave,

    Whilst I agree that Coniston Road will see a small increase in traffic, I don’t see why it will be the doomsday scenario that is being banded about.

    The vast majority of traffic that currently uses Highwood Road comes from outside of Patchway – traffic from Stoke Lodge, Little Stoke, Bradley Stoke etc. going to Cribbs Causeway. For these people, Coniston Road is not the next-best alternative to Highwood Road. The route down via Hayes Way is shorter by about 0.2 miles, has a 40 mph limit compared to Coniston Road’s 30 mph, and has no speed bumps, whereas Coniston Road has many (although some of them are missing due to planned resurfacing work in the near future, according to what someone from SGC Streetcare told me last week). If you don’t believe me about it being shorter, try using Bing Maps to plot a route from the Aztec West roundabout to Pegasus Road. Then use the mouse to drag the route via Coniston Road and then Hayes Way, and you will see that Hayes Way really is shorter.

    People living on the Cribbs side of Waterside Drive probably already go round Coniston Road to get to The Mall. Similarly, people living on the A38 side of Falcon Drive probably go round Coniston Road to get to the A38.

    So yes, people living at the very ends of Coniston Road will now probably drive around Coniston Road rather than Highwood Road, but I don’t think it’s as many people as the campaigners are suggesting.

    At the meeting, a number of the campaigners pointed out that people in the “birds and trees” area will now “have to drive 1.2 miles” to get to Rodway Road. For Pete’s sake, these are exactly the sort of journeys that both the Government and local councils are trying to get people to do by more sustainable means. 1.2 miles is about 15 minutes walking or 5 minutes cycling. In reality, it’s probably less than 10 minutes walking or 3 minutes cycling because you can take shortcuts through Gorse Corvert, down Sycamore Drive or down the new bus road. I have sympathy for people with mobility problems who really can’t walk or cycle, but the vast majority of these journeys will be done by people who are perfectly able-bodied.

    I appreciate the fact that you say that everyone has the right to have their views heard; unfortunately, this view didn’t seem to be shared by the campaigners who attended the meeting, who did their best to disrupt my speech and any of the councillors who spoke in favour of the closure. Apparently, free speech only applies to people supporting their side, and because I live in Bradley Stoke (and didn’t agree with them) they seemed to think that I didn’t have the right to express an opinion on something that affects me, and many of the Cycle Forum members I was representing (some of whom do live in Patchway). I’m not sure where it came from, but on the seats there was a printout of an email from a number of Patchway residents supporting the plan, showing that whilst the campaigners may have a lot of support, it certainly wasn’t unanimous. However, the campaigners seemed to think that this view should not be expressed.

    In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if their actions were the cause of some of the votes against their motion, as their unruly, disruptive and sometimes downright abusive behaviour did their cause a significant disservice.

    And yes, it does affect me. It affects me because the road layout that they propose exposes me to significant and unacceptable danger when I try to use it. It affects me because this extra road space creates more traffic to fill it, and within a few years it will become just as congested as the old dual carriageway used to be before Hayes Way was built. In those days, whenever Highwood Road got congested, Bradley Stoke lost its entire bus service because all the buses were gridlocked on Highwood Road, and whereas we were supposed to get a bus every 15 minutes, you would often wait more than an hour for one to turn up.

    Had there been an option to keep Highwood Road as a dual carriageway with bus lanes on both sides down the full length, I would have supported that as a compromise. However, this is no longer an option, and I simply cannot support what the campaigners want because it is too dangerous.

    The facts of the situation are this: the Southern side of Highwood Road has been sold off to developers, and repurchasing it back to re-open Highwood Road as a dual carriageway is not a realistic option because of the cost. I’m not going to get into the details of exactly how this happened, other than to say that I remember the consultation signs being up for months, and SGC say that there were very few objections (in fact, one of the councillors who now vehemently opposes the scheme originally supported it), and as a result, SGC gave permission to the developer to develop Northfield on the condition that the developer also did the work to convert Highwood Road into the new bus route. The developer went ahead and did this work to fulfil their part of the agreement, and what was the southern carriageway of Highwood Road is now being built on.

    So, re-opening Highwood Road as a dual carriageway is not an option. Also, keeping it open to general non-commercial traffic is also not an option because it is too narrow to support the levels of traffic that use it. There are very few opportunities for cars/vans to overtake cyclists safely because of the high levels of oncoming traffic. The result is that, rather than wait for a safe spot, many drivers overtake cyclists unsafely. When I cycle down there, I’d say that there’s about a 1-in-3 chance that someone will attempt an overtaking manoeuvre so dangerous that I have to swerve and slam on the brakes to avoid being hit.

    The road is simply too dangerous to be left as-is, which is what the campaigners want. So, if the road were to be left open, it would need to be widened by about 3 metres to add proper cycle lanes down the side. This would cost a huge amount of money.

    So, the councillors had a choice – either to go ahead with the trial, see what happens and then if the doomsday scenario does occur then take some action to deal with it (which may even include reopening the road), or just assume the trial is going to fail without even bothering to try, and commit the council to spending large amounts of money potentially unnecessarily. In my opinion, the councillors made the correct decision.

  8. Happy Says:

    @David Smith
    that was a very well written speach and made a lot of sence .

  9. Dave Tiley Says:

    Sure, it’s a well written and researched speech, and makes sense in parts, however I disagree with some of the fundamentals that make this decison and development flawed now, but they are historical ones, despite the fact that the airfields closure and redevelopment changes everything in my view, and the fact a relief road doesn’t relieve when you close the road it relieves. Many voiced concern long ago but were ignored and mis-represnted by those who served them at the time, we never had decent representation at SGC by the LibDem incumbents, they didn’t raised this despite writing about it locally, I’ve walked into the current anger and picked it up with my colleagues, but indeed, we will never please everyone. I’m disappointed to hear about some behaviours at SGC, and apologise for that, no one encouraged that, I was unable to attend as in Esher for the week with work. I’ll tell you one thing though, no one can reach SGC ConDems if they have been told to vote a particular way, recent evidence of that was made available by Ben Walker and Ed Rose who claimed they were bullied by senior members to vote in favour of the airfields closure, and resigned accordingly. The uniform unanimous voting there on both this and the airfield tells me free speech and opinion is not encouraged there, and we face some brutal decisions now in this age of austerity that will seperate those who care from those who don’t. However, I do hope public transport and cycling are truly encouraged for the future of us all, we do have to find an alternative, and I do support yourself and Richard Burton in the work you do, so agree to disagree on this one, but here’s to true democracy, I don’t do the angry stuff it’s no good to any of us.

  10. SH (Editor) Says:

    Here’s a link that will take you straight to a seven minute piece about the Highwood Road decision, broadcast last Thursday on BBC Radio Bristol.

    It includes contributions from Patchway Cllr Sam Scott.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/p00v4r2g/?t=2h9m40s

    Available only until Thursday morning (26th July 2012).

  11. SH (Editor) Says:

    Some more background, recorded for posterity:

    Chris Mills’ speech to the meeting of SGC’s Full Council on 18th July 2012

    If anyone else who made a speech, for or against, would like it to appear on this website, please get in touch.

  12. Ray Gregory Says:

    I have just listened to Pat Hockey on the radio and cannot believe she is serious in that the Patchway people have changed their minds.We have not changed our minds at all Pat, and I invite you to come to Patchway and get a true feel of the strength of opinion.
    And as for the people who are supposed to represent us,it seems political point scoring is far more important than trying to resolve the most important issue and that is what the majority of Patchway residents want,and that is for the road to stay open
    As for David Smiths view on travelling by sustainable means can he explain to me how the elderlyand the disabled our going to manage to travel by bike or walk 1.2 miles in the wind and the rain,what a stupid man
    And theres my point these people have all the answers but in fact they have no answers because they cannot think outside there own world and really do not give two hoots how people really will cope
    And one final point , I understand two councillers signed the petition and then voted against it, I can only say them to try national politics next as you will fit right in with the other waste of spaces that have made this country a mess

  13. Happy Says:

    why would the old or the disabled walk in the rain for 1.2 miles when there is the four towns mini buses to use for taking them anywhere around in South Glos.And not all of Patchway residents are for this road to stay open to normal traffic.

  14. David Smith Says:

    @Ray Gregory:

    Throw all the insults and abuse you like; it doesn’t make your argument any more valid.

    Like I said before, I have sympathy with people who really *can’t* walk or cycle, but even still, most of them will have free bus passes to use either the 75 or 4T&VL. The remaining few might still have to drive, but that’s a tiny minority, and the effects of the extra traffic on Coniston Road will be miniscule. It would only take a small proportion of the non-disabled users to switch to more sustainable transport means to negate this effect.

    In the UK, 38.5% of all journeys under 2 miles are done by car (Source: DfT National Travel Survey 2010). That’s easily under half an hour walk or 8 minutes cycling. You cannot tell me that all of these are due to people who are sufficiently disabled that they are unable to walk, cycle or get a bus.

    By the way, you might be interested in another statistic from that survey – 25% of households do not have access to a private vehicle (car/van/etc.).

    As a society, we need to realise that unlimited use of transport is not a God-given right. We have to act responsibly, and make some changes in our lifestyle to avoid destroying the environment. Yes, that means making some sacrifices sometimes. Yes, I do own a car, but I only use it when there is no other realistic means of transport. I chose to live in Bradley Stoke rather than somewhere “nicer” so that I could cycle to work rather than drive.

    We need to get to the people who, when they need to go somewhere, seem to be unable to see past the car keys on the table. The whole point is to try to encourage people, wherever possible, to use their cars less. That needs to be done both by discouraging car use, and making the alternatives more attractive. If Highwood Road remains open, the buses will keep getting stuck in all the traffic. The problem is that we have a vicious circle – the bus service is terrible because they keep getting stuck in traffic because of all the cars on the road. But the bad bus service means that even more people choose to drive. We need to break that circle.

    As for your other comment, you have proposed no solution to the problem of the bus network being neutered whenever there is a traffic jam on Highwood Road. You have proposed no solution to the homicidally dangerous behaviour of motorists encouraged by the reopening of Highwood Road you so enthusiastically support. You have proposed no solution to the routing of the BRT – you may like to claim that this is a number of years off, but the bid is going in to the DfT soon, and if Highwood Road were to be re-opened, everyone knows that in a few years it will create enough traffic for it to get clogged up again, and then we’ll be completely back to square one. As a result of this, if Highwood Road were to be re-opened, the BRT funding bid would have to contain a credible and funded alternative route because the DfT will not support a project with such a basic flaw. That will incur a huge cost which is not currently funded. Your only “answer” appears to be “keep Highwood Road open so I can drive up and down it as much as I like”. So, which of us “has no answers because they cannot think outside there [sic] own world and really do not give two hoots about how people really will cope”?

    Like I said before, it’s only an 18-month trial. If it doesn’t work, then it can be revisited and maybe a different decision taken. You, on the other hand, aren’t even willing to try.

    Incidentally, a colleague from work lives on Coniston Road, makes most of her journeys by car, and yet is in favour of the closure. Fancy that.

  15. Happy Says:

    Well said David smith

  16. Ray Gregory Says:

    Responding to David Smith

    I am sure the people of Patchway classified by you as a tiny minority will be very pleased to have your sympathy with the additional hardship they will suffer,it will be of a great comfort to them
    As for your assumption that the extra traffic on Coniston will be miniscule,well that beggars belief,and I notice that you cannot offer any clever statistics on that ,just a personal misguided opinion I suppose
    Yes I agree with your point that we dont have a god given right to transport but why do you believe you have the god given right to pursue a anti car crusade against the people of Patchway,and pronounce your self as some kind of St David,plenty of us cycle and drive because we can,and St David good of you to comment that you could live somewhere “nicer” than Bradley Stoke
    So where do we draw the line St David, have you seen how much traffic is on the A38, maybe your next target,and oh yes Patchway is actually split in half by this road perhaps you or your other asylum inmates could have a crack at getting that closed as well
    Yes I do want to carry own using Highwood Lane and yes I do find it convenient what a selfish individual I must be to stand in the way of something that is still fantasy
    And finally I have cycled down Highwood Lane many times and to date have had no problems,not so many homicidal motorists around as you think Sir

  17. Jen Says:

    I live in Bay Tree, where the exit onto Highwood Lane is going to be closed. The exit from my Close will then be along Sycamore Drive which often has double parking and blind spots. Increased traffic along this road means increased risk of accidents, and damage to parked cars. I wonder what the council are going to do to make this route safer.

    My main transport is my pushbike. I have cycled along the dual carriageway quite happily and safely for many years. Since the roadworks I have not felt safe and have seen a large number of accidents and near misses from bad signage, frequent changes of layout, pedestrian crossings turned off so people had difficulties crossing and on one occasion a confused car driver who tried to turn into a pedestrian crossing thinking it was the road junction, then getting stuck because no one would let them out. I had to stop the traffic by standing in the road to give this person an opportunity to get out safely.

    I do not believe the bus lane will be safer, having seen some of the bus drivers negative attitude to cyclists in ‘their’ lane.

    I also have a car, and do not wish to go round Coniston Road to get to my home, they get enough traffic already. I already use my bike and my feet to go to the local shops, it takes me 15 minutes to walk, ok for me because I am fit, but for more frail residents it will not be so short or easy.

    And there are proposals to build more houses in Bay Tree; getting the lorries down Sycamore will be interesting…

    Emergency access to our street will be affected as they will have to put a barrier or verge up on the Highwood Lane exit, so the emergency vehicles will have further to travel. Not good if I get an anaphylactic reaction, but never mind, at least we will get less pollution – but we won’t really as the cars will just have to travel further to get to the shops and those that use Highwood Lane will just go another way. Of course we could use all the buses that will suddenly go along the new bus lane as long they run on time and can afford the fares. I used the bus network a lot in the last few years, but finally gave up and got a car.

    I would happily have a gated access point and a pass so that I can access my street without having to go through others that have enough traffic already. But I suspect the council have already spent enough on their bus lane and probably don’t have much spare change.

    Perhaps when coming up with plans like this the councillors should go to the place where they are making change and LOOK at the implications for the local residents rather than play political point scoring in their chambers. But we never voted them to represent us did we?

  18. Dave Tiley Says:

    Well said Jen.

    If there was a like button here I’d click it.

    A lot of people who live outside ‘our’ bit of Patchway, this side of Highwood, really miss the point of how we will now have to go around the houses to get in and out of here, and our best and shortest route is going to be via Coniston.

    Hayes Way is fine as a joint relief road, but not a road we here would use by choice or use unless we have to.

    As for the Councillors at SGC, it’s a dead loss taking issues there, they vote as told, just look at their records, and when it’s not to appease their alleged bullying leaders like Lopresti then it’s just to protect their villages and dump on us, they don’t give a damn about Patchway or Filton, just looking after their own interests. If they step out of line they stand to lose 10K a year + expenses…

  19. Jen Says:

    Thank you Dave!

    I also understand that the Council have said this change in road layout will now be on a 18 month trial basis. Will the council really change it again if it doesn’t or will they say they can’t afford to?

    The writing painted on the lanes are causing confusion for cars travelling along Highwood Lane as they say they have to turn, and then see other cars using the bus lane…Yesterday I saw a near miss as a result of that confusion. The council could have waited to paint until just before car access was stopped. Perhaps the councillors use Hays Way instead.

  20. Dave Tiley Says:

    Hello Jen.

    That’s a massive question, only time can answer, I daren’t, but have my suspicions.

    Yes the painting, directions and lanes have been confusing all along, we have told SGC that to little avail. This chaos will continue until ‘completion’ which really doesn’t look any nearer.

    Walking the dog the other night and crossing the road there I realised the potential for an accident was worryingly obvious, and I fret over that personally whichever way it ends up, as Bristol City Centre has shown pedestrianisation and buses are not a good mix, it’s all very confusing, especially for kids god forbid.

    We have had our say over and over, but SGC and a few here don’t agree, there’s little else I can say or do. I hope it all works out for the best no matter what.

  21. Jon Moore Says:

    Hi Jen

    I believe the SGC will turn round and tell us they don’t have the money to re-open it. It was one of the issues I said when I addressed that council before they voted to close the road to public traffic. To make some sense of it, in their additional notes to public members they had costing figures for closing and keeping the road open. Some how closing the road and re-opening it again in 18 months would be cheap that just keeping the road open. The way this has been handled is a disgrace, and funny enough at the same SGC meeting on highwood road you would(hope) expect a traffic officer there to provide key information regarding the roads etc, none were present.
    The costings are not a true cost but more a political one, where by both Tory and Liberals have a lot standing on this, so the cost to keep this road open changes/increases depending on which Tory/Lib dem you speak to. Common sense has gone out the window.

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