A report produced by officers of South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) ahead of a crucial committee meeting next week has recommended that the “experimental” closure of Highwood Road to general traffic be made permanent without further consultation.
The recommendation is made despite the latest public consultation on the closure showing that 89% of 221 respondents were against the scheme.
The news comes just over a year after a 4,137 signature petition calling for the road closure to be abandoned was rejected by a meeting of SGC’s Full Council.
The strength of opposition to the closure from the Patchway public was further demonstrated last week when an estimated 200 to 300 people attended a public meeting called by Chris Jenner, the community development worker for the town. That meeting was originally planned to take place in the cafe at Coniston Community Centre, but was transferred to the square at the nearby Parade shops because the numbers attending were so great (see photo above).
Many people at that meeting complained about increased traffic levels on Coniston Road since Highwood Road was closed in October last year. Other concerns raised include the number of HGVs travelling along Coniston Road and a perceived increase in accidents and near-misses.
In their latest report, officers argue that the volume of traffic using Coniston Road is actually no higher than the pre-closure situation that existed in 2008 (i.e. prior to the opening of Hayes Way, which provides an alternative route between Gloucester road and Cribbs Causeway), although the same set of data does show a 48% increase in traffic between January 2012 (after Hayes Way opening but before Highwood Road closure) and July 2013. They also note that national design guidelines suggest that the road could cope with flows more than four times present levels.
The report says there has been no significant increase in recorded accidents on Coniston Road. There is, however, no data relating to the number of HGVs using the route.
Officers warn that reversing the closure would cost the council up to £1.25 million and jeopardise government funding for the North Fringe to Hengrove bus rapid transit scheme, which is foreseen to utilise the current bus-only link along Highwood Road.
Patchway town councillors and community activists are urging local residents to attend the meeting on 4th September to make their views known. All the places on a small coach and mini-bus booked to transport interested parties to Thornbury have already been taken, but a convoy of private vehicles (with the possibility of car sharing) is expected to join them, leaving the town council office in Rodway Road at 1pm.
The meeting of the Planning Transport and Strategic Environment (PTSE) Committee begins at 3pm in the Council Chamber at the SGC offices in Thornbury.
A message posted on the Patchway Labour Group Facebook reads:
Please also collate any photos, videos or documented evidence of problems with the new proposed traffic flow we are expected to endure.
If you wish to speak there [at the meeting on 4th September], just to say ANYTHING on why you oppose the road closure, contact email@example.com or telephone 01454 864425.
For further info and to register your ongoing support please send your email address and contact name to firstname.lastname@example.org.