Campaigners opposed to the construction of a new bus lane on Hatchet Road in Stoke Gifford say they are “delighted” to have succeeded in convincing South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) that it should review its previous decision to press ahead with the scheme despite widespread opposition within the local community.
The proposed new southbound bus lane on Hatchet Road will form part of the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME) scheme, which will link The Mall at Cribbs Causeway with Bristol Parkway Station and serve the new developments planned for the former Filton Airfield site.
Local residents and councillors are opposed to the bus lane because it will require mature hedgerows and trees to be removed from both sides of Hatchet Road. They also claim it is a waste of money (costing £2m to reduce bus journey times by just 29 seconds, during the morning peak only) and say they are concerned that its construction will cause severe disruption to traffic in the area.
Their preferred alternative is to review the number of bus stops on Hatchet Road and implement lay-bys at those that are deemed necessary. This, they claim, would facilitate better traffic flow for all road users. SGC’s own figures show that such a scheme would save over £1.25m and achieve improved bus journey time savings in comparison to the bus lane option.
Around 20 members of the Hatchet Road Action Group attended the meeting, led by Paul Tanner, who was given five minutes to introduce the petition prior to the debate. Three other action group members, Sue Bandcroft, Susan Kelly and James Buckingham, took the opportunity to speak during the ‘items from the public’ session at the start of the meeting.
Mr Tanner used part of his allotted time to show councillors an aerial video of the Hatchet Road route, which had been filmed using a drone.
The first motion tabled during the ensuing debate came from Cllr Colin Hunt (Con) who proposed a motion asking transport officers to re-examine the scheme and “consider if it could be delivered a different way”, but adding that the previously agreed proposal for the Hatchet Road Bus Lane should be “the default position”.
After further debate, councillors eventually agreed on an amended motion proposed by Cllr Pat Hockey (LibDem) which removed Cllr Hunt’s reference to a “default position” and added the promise of further public consultation.
The agreed motion reads: “Council requests that transport officers re-examine plans for the route of the MetroBus from the Hatchet Road Roundabout to Parkway Station, investigate whether the CPME Scheme can be delivered in a different way, and prepares a paper to bring to a public Cabinet meeting in the autumn for this issue to be discussed further which will lead to these proposals going out for further consultation.”
An SGC spokesperson said:
“Since the 19th July Full Council meeting, officers have been undertaking a review of the Hatchet Road proposals as set out in the motion and this is currently ongoing. We currently anticipate that we will present the results of the review in a report to the Cabinet meeting on 6th November 2017, in which case that report would be publicly available on the council’s website from 27th October.”
“Timescales for public consultation, and any decisions following consultation, have not yet been confirmed.”
Paul Tanner said:
“I’m delighted with the positive response made by Councillors at the July meeting. There was cross-party recognition of the importance of the consultation process and the strength of feeling locally with over 3,300 signatures of support for our petition. “
“We look forward to a positive outcome from the review and remain convinced that the evidence continues to provide overwhelming support for the lay-by option rather than having a bus lane on Hatchet Road.”
Sue Bandcroft added:
“We welcome the decision to review all the options again, including the Winterbourne Road option and the opportunity, if required, to be fully involved in the review process.”
“This is a real opportunity for South Gloucestershire Council to demonstrate that they are willing to work with residents and actually listening to the voice of the community.”
The full text of campaigners’ speeches to the 19th July meeting may be viewed on the action group’s Facebook page: Hatchet Road 2016
Photo: Campaigners pictured during a petition signature gathering event held outside the Ratcliffe Drive shops in March 2017.
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 14). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.