‘Siston Says No’ to eastern M4 Junction 18a option

Around 60 residents attended an extraordinary parish meeting in Siston tonight to show the strength of feeling against the possibility of the eastern M4 Junction 18a and link road option.

The meeting was called by parishioners who did not feel the parish council was doing enough to get a campaign going.

A £500,000 study being led by South Gloucestershire Council in partnership with Highways England into where to put a new M4 junction and link to the ring road has suggested Pucklechurch as an option.

It had long been assumed that a Junction 18a would be close to the Bristol & Bath Science Park at Emersons Green, which is still an option. But the Pucklechurch option which would see a junction further east at Westerleigh Road (the B4465) came as a surprise when it emerged in June.

It would involve a new link road crossing countryside between Pucklechurch and Parkfield Rank to cross Shortwood Road at the Siston Lane junction, and then continue between Siston and Shortwood to join up with the ring road.

Cllr Bob Symons and Gail Boyle from Pucklechurch Parish Council

The route from the junction with the M4/B4465 proposes two possible options for the link road. Eastern Option A would run close to Parkfield Rank while Eastern Option B would cut across fields closer to Pucklechurch village.

Chairman of Siston Parish Council Cllr John Hunt told tonight’s meeting that councillors had agreed at their last meeting to voice their concern and opposition to the eastern option, and that leaflets telling people in Siston about it and how to oppose it would be distributed to all households at the end of the month.

But the overwhelming feeling at tonight’s meeting was that the campaign must get under way in earnest straight away, with the leaflets going out as soon as they could be printed. Residents are also planning to set up an action group.

Siston resident Martin Thomas told the meeting he had just set up a website – http://sistonsaysno.weebly.com/ – to keep people informed and tell them how they can object to the eastern option.

Siston is a conservation village

Villagers are keen for Siston to follow the lead set by Pucklechurch Parish Council which has a strong campaign going with daily updates on social media. There have been meeting and newsletters have been distributed to every home.

Attending tonight’s meeting to lend their support and advice were the chairman and vice chair of Pucklechurch Parish Council, Bob Symons and Gail Boyle. Cllr Boyle said they were holding open sessions every Tuesday evening and Saturday morning at Pucklechurch Community Centre to keep people updated and dozens of volunteers have offered a wide variety of skills and expertise to the campaign.

The formal consultation on the options for Junction 18a starts on 21st August and will last for eight weeks. A public meeting has been scheduled at Pucklechurch Community Centre for the evening of 12th September. Westerleigh Parish Council will hold a drop-in session with South Glos Council officers on Monday 11th September at Westerleigh Village Hall between 4pm and 6.45pm.

And a display and consultation event is planned in Siston parish on 21st September from 4pm to 7pm at Warmley Community Centre.

Among those at tonight’s meeting was a Siston farmer who said he found out only a week ago that the eastern route would see a roundabout and road through his land on Shortwood Road.

The farmer, who did not want to be named, told The Week In that he was “fiercely” against the idea and was instructing his solicitor in his fight to defend his land. He said he understood that in cases where there are two possible routes for a road, and one would go through a conservation area, the alternative must be taken if there are objections. Both Siston and Pucklechurch are conservation areas.

* It emerged at tonight’s meeting that South Glos Council has said that the campaign banners that have gone up around Pucklechurch parish opposing the eastern option must come down as they are in breach of advertising regulations.