Hatchet Road petition closes in on target

Photo of campaigners opposed to a new bus lane on Hatchet Road, Stoke Gifford, gathering petition signatures at the Willow Brook Centre.

Residents campaigning to reverse a decision to construct a one-way bus lane on Hatchet Road in Stoke Gifford say they are confident their petition will reach the critical 2,500 signature milestone in early May.

Under South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) Petitions Scheme, any petition attracting this number of valid signatures triggers a debate at Full Council, usually arranged at the earliest opportunity.

Around 400 signatures were collected by more than a dozen campaigners who manned a stall in the foyer of Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook shopping centre on Saturday 22nd April.

Awareness of the campaign has also been raised through the distribution of leaflets to 4,500 homes in Stoke Gifford and Bradley Stoke, while a further 700 leaflets were handed out to passing motorists on Hatchet Road during the morning peak on 5th April.

Several large local employers, including Aviva and Rolls-Royce have also allowed campaigners to reach out to their staff through posters and email circulars.

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.

The campaigners, who have the support of all three SGC ward councillors for Stoke Gifford, have expressed a preference for an alternative, less costly scheme that would involve creating lay-bys at some of the bus stops on Hatchet Road.

As well as being directed at SGC, the petition is also addressed to the new West of England ‘Metro Mayor’ (due to be elected on 4th May), for while SGC is the promoter of the scheme, its funding will need to be approved by the West of England Combined Authority following the submission of a ‘full business case’ in spring 2018.

Members of the Hatchet Road Action Group, which is fronted by Paul Tanner, have also met with local MP Jack Lopresti, with whom they say they had a “lively discussion”. Mr Lopresti promised to write to the secretary of state for transport on their behalf and work with the new Metro Mayor to seek a review of the options for the CPME route on Hatchet Road.

Mr Tanner told the Journal he is optimistic that the decision can be overturned, given the strength of feeling within the action group and the support they have received from the wider community.

As a minimum, he said he expects a “fair review” of the decision and wants to see a new report produced in which the council’s officers give “proper substantiation of their recommendations based on the evidence presented”.

More information:

Photos: Campaigners gathering petition signatures at the Willow Brook Centre on Saturday 22nd April.

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 14 & 15). 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.

UPDATE (20th May 2017): With the number of signatories standing at 2,736, the petition was presented to a meeting of South Gloucestershire Council on 17th May 2017. Speaking at the meeting, Paul Tanner said: “We ask that the council receive this petition and arrange for a thorough and objective review of this matter before discussion at a forthcoming Full Council meeting. We maintain that the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the bus lay-by option.” Read more…

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