‘Advertising signs risk more distraction and confusion at throughabout’

The addition of advertising signs on the controversial Wraxall Road throughabout at Warmley risks yet more “distraction and confusion”, according to the RAC Foundation.

The controversial £6.9m throughabout on the A4174 Ring Road – the first in South Gloucestershire – opened last October and some alterations were made shortly afterwards following complaints from motorists that it was confusing.

Now concern about advertising signs which have recently been placed on the throughabout with the permission of South Gloucestershire Council, has been raised at a meeting of the Hanham and Longwell Green Community Engagement Forum (CEF).

Organised by the council, CEFs are a chance for residents to raise any concerns and find out what is happening in their community.

A local resident told the public meeting he was “really shocked” that despite all the concerns already raised about trying to navigate around the throughabout, the council had decided to put adverts on it as well.

He said he understood the need for the council to raise money but added: “There are so many signs, so many multiple traffic lights, so many lanes, lanes saying the road number and then saying west on the ground when in fact you are going south … everything about it is an absolute nightmare for signage so for South Glos to actually put adverts to compound that situation is unbelievable from a safety point of view.”

We asked the RAC Foundation – a transport policy and research organisation which explores issues relating to roads and their users – for its opinion. This week its director Steve Gooding told us: “The road ahead needs to be easily understandable when viewed through the windscreen. Any driver encountering this junction for the first time might reasonably ask whether traffic engineers were attempting to be too clever by half, and the addition of advertising signage risks yet more distraction and confusion.

“The situation will only become clear some time down the line when traffic flow and safety impacts are measured.”

A spokesperson for South Gloucestershire Council said: “Sponsorship signs were installed at Wraxall Road roundabout in 2014 following a planning application and highways assessment.

“They were temporarily removed while our £6.9m investment to reduce congestion, increase traffic flow, and improve air quality at the junction took place, but they were re-installed following the successful completion of the work.

“Forty other junctions in South Gloucestershire feature similar signs and all sponsors are small, local businesses and franchises. This supports the local economy as well as generating revenue that is invested back into council services, delivering value for money for council taxpayers.” 

The council announced last November that it was reviewing proposals for five more junction improvements along the Ring Road between Longwell Green and Lyde Green, including three more throughabouts. It followed a public consultation on the proposed £30m scheme which nearly 900 people responded to. An overwhelming number of respondents were against it.

The council said it would continue to monitor and evaluate the Wraxall Road throughabout to help inform the wider A4174 improvement scheme.