Council dealing with ‘potential legal challenge’ over road restrictions

Charnell Road

Signal Road

Controversial traffic restrictions remain in place on two Staple Hill roads even though they had been due to be removed before Christmas.

On 22nd December, the day before the expected dismantling of the trial barricades on Signal Road and Charnell Road, the council posted on its website: “The revocation order was not made as anticipated on 1st December 2021 and so measures cannot be removed on 23rd December 2021. 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 council then offered more information the following day: “The restrictions were due to be removed this week, however, they will now remain in place while the council responds to a potential legal challenge to their imposition.

“The measures on Signal Road and Charnell Road were installed last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to optimise the increases in active travel and greatly reduced vehicle use seen during lockdown.

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

At the council’s 15th December meeting, a petition against the removal of the active travel 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 many more families now make their way to the Railway Path and there has 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 a petition from Teewell Hill residents. He made his decision even though the council’s traffic services team had recommended that the scheme be made permanent and the senior environmental policy and climate change officer was in favour of keeping it.

The meeting heard that many cyclists and walkers who the petitioners had spoken to had not realised the scheme was going to be revoked as no attempt had been made by the council to engage with them. The council was also accused by residents of a “serious shortcoming” in not following Government guidance in assessing how and in what form a scheme should be made permanent as data on traffic, pedestrians, cyclists and air quality had not been collected.

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