Controversial road blocks in Staple Hill are removed

Charnell Road

The controversial road blocks that were installed on two Staple Hill streets in response to the pandemic have finally been removed.

The council said the measures were installed on Signal Road and Charnell Road in 2020 “to optimise the increases in active travel and greatly reduced vehicle use seen during lockdown”.

But despite the positive response from people living on the roads immediately affected, a consultation showed that the scheme had not been well received by residents in the wider area, so it was decided to remove the restrictions.

The barricades had been due to be removed on 23rd December but the day before the expected dismantling, the council posted on its website that the revocation order was not made as anticipated on 1st December and so the measures could not be removed on 23rd December.

It added: “All physical measures installed during the trial closure will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Further updates on the next steps will be posted here as we approach the expiration of the 18-month experimental period in the new year.”

The following day the council announced on its Facebook page that the restrictions would remain in place while it responded to “a potential legal challenge to their imposition”.

Signal Road

At the council’s 15th December meeting, a petition against the removal of the scheme, signed by 250 people, was presented by Staple Hill councillor Katie Cooper. She spoke about the “upset and division” caused by the road closures and said her colleague Cllr Ian Boulton had started a petition asking for a traffic management review of Staple Hill to be held as soon as possible.

Three of the residents who signed the petition addressed the meeting, explaining that despite being a narrow road and providing a major access point to the Bristol and Bath Railway Path, Signal Road had been a busy rat-run prior to the restrictions. They said that since the traffic restrictions, many more families had made their way to the Railway Path and there had been a big increase in the number of schoolchildren passing through.

The residents said the decision to not make the scheme permanent had been taken by the council’s director of environment and community services based purely on the outcome of an outline consultation and petition from Teewell Hill residents. They said he had made his decision even though the council’s own traffic services team had recommended that the scheme be made permanent, and the senior environmental policy and climate change officer had been in favour of keeping it.

The meeting also heard that many cyclists and walkers had not realised the scheme was going to be revoked as no attempt had been made by the council to engage with them.

After The Week In asked the council for a statement this week regarding the removal of the barricades, a spokesperson told us: “The temporary traffic restrictions on Signal Road and Charnell Road in Staple Hill have been removed. The measures were installed in June 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite the positive response from people living on the roads immediately affected, a consultation showed that the scheme had not been well received by residents in the wider area, which is why a decision was made to remove the restrictions.

“We continue to work with residents and local members to provide a solution for this area to help reduce traffic and congestion, and to make active travel more accessible.”

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