Council's U-turn: plan to 'carve up' village dropped
RESIDENTS are delighted that controversial proposals for the A4018 from north Bristol to the city centre have been overturned.
by Keri Beckingham
Bristol City Council has dropped many of its plans after thousands of people protested that they would block access to Brentry and carve up Westbury-on-Trym village.
The scheme for the A4018, which encompasses Wyck Beck Road, Passage Road, Falcondale Road and Westbury Road had been designed to help keep traffic flowing and improve public transport reliability along one of the most important routes into central Bristol. The plans were drawn up as a result of the new housing developments planned for the former Filton Airfield, and the proposed improvements included adding inbound and outbound bus lanes, and creating junctions with traffic lights to support traffic flow.
The proposals were mainly focused south of Crow Lane roundabout, and the council said it also wanted to improve the vitality of Westbury village by removing the rat-running traffic.
Following a consultation in the spring, the council has amended its plans and launched fresh proposals it hopes will make journeys easier for residents and commuters.
Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones, who organised a petition of 3,700 signagures and held a number of public meetings, welcomed the U-turn.
He said: “I thank my colleague, Mayor Marvin Rees, for listening to my calls to scrap the initial proposals for the A4018 upgrades. I was pleased to be able to facilitate so many of my constituents having a say on this important issue and I’m sure they welcome the announcement. As last time, I will consult with my constituents about the updated proposals and make sure local residents are part of the process of getting this right.”
Bristol City Council is now recommending that a new community-led design to improve vehicle, cycle and pedestrian movements through Westbury-on-Trym and the surrounding junctions on Falcondale Road should be developed, meaning that the initial proposals for the village will not be progressed. In addition, the council is also proposing to significantly reduce banned turns and restrictions for traffic along the A4018 and will introduce peak-time bus lanes instead of the previous 24-hour proposal.
Commenting on the revised plans, Councillor Kye Dudd, cabinet member for transport, said: “I’m grateful to everyone who engaged with the public consultation; the recommended scheme has been revised and shaped by the feedback we received. I want to make sure any changes on the A4018 and Westbury-on-Trym support local residents and businesses in their everyday activities, which is why I’m recommending the proposals for Westbury village are redesigned in partnership with the local community, MP and ward councillors.
“The bus lanes remain part of the scheme but with revised operating hours. Bus prioritisation is a crucial element in our vision for Bristol to be carbon neutral by helping us to double bus journeys. This recommended scheme would help provide reliable, accessible and sustainable transport options for all who would like to use them.”
In response, Conservative Leader Mark Weston, councillor for Henbury and Brentry said: “Having been briefed on these changes, I am pleased - and relieved - that the council seems to have listened to our residents and road-users.
“There are still some things that will need to be revisited and revised in the latest version but we are at least starting from a better place than the last diabolical scheme.”
Geoff Gollop, Conservative councillor for Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze, added: “The protection and preservation of Westbury Village remains one of my main priorities in any new traffic layout.
“Consequently, this revised plan still needs careful and detailed examination to evaluate its likely impact on our primary shopping centre. However, the suggested air quality monitoring of the area is something I very much support.”
Hilary Long, chairman of the Westbury-on-Trym Society (WOTSOC), says that she is relieved that the review for the A4018 has been largely abandoned. She said: “The remaining features, for traffic lights at two main junctions – actually promised for the past ten years – will be welcomed by all motorists and pedestrians, as will a safety crossing for Westbury Primary School – long overdue and in fact campaigned for by parents over ten years ago!
“However, we are aware that a return visit from the council is on the cards for the future, to look at ‘improvements’ to traffic flow and safety in the village. Before this happens, we must bring together all interested institutions and social groups, to agree on what we need: no-one wants idealistic but impractical and insensitive plans, like the last ones, to be imposed on the community.
“Local democratic consultation and activity is now essential in preparation for talks with council. For example, everyone I have spoken to is adamant that the War Memorial is sacrosanct and cannot possibly be moved to allow cars to speed through the village.
“We want Westbury and its people to be treated with the respect it deserves - as the unique and historic part of Bristol that it has occupied since incorporation into the city over a century ago. It is its people who must be considered first, over the convenience of commuters in and out of Bristol.”
Alan Aburrow, ex-chairman of the local Neighbourhood Partnership’s transport working group said: “On the whole a good result for vox pop and for Westbury village in particular but the final result will obviously depend on its endorsement by Cabinet members at their June meeting.
“Maybe, on this occasion, the council just had to drastically review their far-reaching and ill-conceived ‘improvements’ for the A4018 corridor as a result of the groundswell of opposition that culminated in 2726 comments being submitted to the council. Perhaps the best news – depending on your point of view – is that Westbury village remains ‘as is’ (for now) and will gain a new pedestrian crossing on Passage Road, near Westbury Academy.
“Other long-awaited improvements will include fully signalising the very busy junctions of Greystoke Avenue with Falcondale Road and Westbury Road with Falcondale Road. Also, subject to a local consultation, a new pedestrian crossing could be installed on Canford Lane (near the crematorium entrance), for which local residents have been campaigning for a long time."
The changes will be discussed at Bristol City Council’s Cabinet on June 18 when a decision is due to be made on whether to progress the revised scheme. Councillors are urging residents to register their support or concerns for these new plans by submitting statements to cabinet by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org , stating ref: Cabinet/A4018. Comments have to be submitted by midday on June 17.
A summary of the initial A4018 consultation can be found online at the Bristol City Council Consultation Hub. The full report will be released with papers on June 8.