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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