Controversial road closures introduced in Staple Hill last year will be scrapped before Christmas because they have caused traffic problems elsewhere, including on Teewell Hill.
However, the decision by South Gloucestershire Council to remove the blockades at Signal Road and Charnell Road has divided opinion – especially as many residents in the two streets wanted them to remain.
Last May the government tasked local authorities to quickly implement schemes to capitalise on the increases in active travel and greatly reduced vehicle use seen during the first lockdown.
The aim of the experimental road closures introduced on Signal Road and Charnell Road was to help to reduce the impact of increased traffic and improve the benefits to key cycling and walking routes, in particular access to the nearby Bristol and Bath Railway Path. The council said that this in turn would improve links between Page Park and the Railway Path, and routes to Mangotsfield School and The Tynings Primary School.
Signal Road was closed 33 metres west from its junction with White Lodge Road while Charnell Road was closed 20 metres east from its junction with Teewell Hill.
However, in a report just published, the council said that despite the benefits to encouraging active travel, the scheme has proved unpopular with residents in the surrounding area.
“Whist we recognise that the scheme has received positive responses from the roads immediately affected i.e.. Signal Road and Charnell Road, the consultation results show that the schemes have not been well received over the wider area.
“The general view from the local community is that the closures have introduced further traffic issues on the neighbouring roads. Properties near the closure points have experienced private driveways being used as turning areas and obstructed by deliveries, taxis and visitors, and large vehicles reversing out onto Teewell Hill.”
The revocation order will be made on 1st December and will come into operation on 23rd December 2021. All physical measures installed during the trial closure will be removed on 23rd December.
Councillors for Staple Hill and Mangotsfield Michael Bell, Ian Boulton and Katie Cooper say they have received a “barrage of emails” following the announcement and that with a significant minority of local residents wanting to keep the closures, (for Charnell Road it was 35% and Signal Road 45%), it was always going to be a divisive issue.
“During the time of this closure, while some residents have undoubtedly enjoyed reduced traffic on Signal Road and Charnhill Road, there has been no evidence to demonstrate that traffic across the wider neighbourhood has reduced. This suggests that the quieter road you may have benefitted from has been at the expense of neighbours on, already previously busy, surrounding roads.
“This has put extra pressure on neighbouring roads including Lydney Road, Bath Street, Gloucester Road and Teewell Avenue which is a narrow, mostly single carriageway, road with limited passing places and, of course, Teewell Hill which narrows to a bottle neck at the traffic lights.
“Teewell Hill has caused particular concern as a route to Tynings School whose parents and staff have made numerous representations about the increased hazards since the road closures including vehicles mounting the pavement and backing up the hill.”
The councillors added: “Due to high levels of pollutants in the air, Broad Street is already an Air Quality Management Area. While we do not believe air quality is being monitored on Teewell Hill, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest the pollutants caused by queuing traffic on this route to school has worsened as a result of the increased numbers of vehicles being forced to use it.
“Much has been made of the attempt to address the climate emergency by implementing these road closures, however the unintended consequence appears to be that pollutants have been concentrated into one small area on a busy route to school, rather than being eliminated which is clearly unacceptable and does nothing to support efforts to reduce emissions overall.
“We believe that officers at the council implemented this road closure scheme with the best intentions of making the Railway Path access safer following numerous appeals, including from ourselves, to review traffic calming measures in the area. Given the limited resources and the opportunity provided by the emergency guidance announced by the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps on 9th May 2020, a decision was made to close these roads, rather than have a more considered traffic management scheme for the area.
“When the director advised that he was minded to support the majority of residents who wanted the blockades removed, we asked for a wider traffic management scheme to be conducted to mitigate the effects on the residents who have enjoyed quieter roads and, in response, he agreed to introducing a 20mph zone.
“On its own we do not believe that this will be enough and we are renewing our request for a wider traffic management scheme to be investigated and consulted upon.
“We should also have better enforcement of speed restrictions … and we all need to explore alternatives to using private cars if we are genuinely interested in reducing traffic, and associated emissions, on our choked roads.”
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