Barriers divide streets – and residents

July 28 2020

Ray Isaac at the barrier in Signal Road

RESIDENTS of streets where barriers were installed to stop through traffic are divided on whether they should stay.
The temporary closures in Signal Road and Charnell Road were brought in by South Gloucestershire Council at the same time as the single-lane system in Staple Hill High Street. Initially installed for three weeks, they will now be staying until August 9 at the earliest.
The council said the closures are intended to "prevent congestion on nearby roads and to improve access to the Bristol-Bath railway path for cyclists and pedestrians", as part of its efforts to support walking and cycling.
But while the barriers have cut rat-running on the roads and in nearby Charnhill Drive, the council has been accused of incompetence in installing them – and a "scandalous" lack of consultation.
Charnhill Drive resident Ray Isaac says the barriers have made his street much quieter.
He has knocked on the doors of around 50 neighbours to ask their opinions and says the majority would like the closures to stay in place.
Ray, who has lived in the road for 37 years, said: "It's brilliant – it's really made a difference to the road."
He said Charnhill Drive and Signal Road were previously a rat run for people travelling between Mangotsfield and Teewell Hill to avoid the traffic lights at the junction with Broad Street.
Ray said: "It is nice and quiet now. It makes it a lot safer for people who have got young children."
Charnell Road resident Steve Richards says the closure of his street and nearby Signal Road was a "calamity" which had been "railroaded" through by the council.
He said residents were given just four days warning before contractors turned up to start installing the barriers to close the roads to through traffic.
The barriers were then installed at what Steve says was the 'wrong' end of Charnell Road, at the east end by White Lodge Road. This meant visiting delivery, recycling and other lorries had to reverse out into traffic on Teewell Hill, as there is nowhere for them to turn around in Charnell Road.
Steve described this as a "massive breach of health and safety", which could have left council taxpayers footing the bill for fines or damages in the event of a serious accident.
He said the situation in Charnell Road had been made worse by the "incompetent" decision to install the barrier near to three skips which had been given permission to be placed in the road, which made it even harder for vehicles to manoeuvre.
Steve said: "To block it off and turn it into a cul de sac without proper consultation is scandalous."
He would like to see the barriers removed from both roads but says something needs to be done before this happens, to tackle speeding drivers on Charnhill Drive, and suggested chicanes be installed.
A council spokesman said the government had told councils to make changes to road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians "as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks" to change travel habits before the exit from lockdown took full effect. The closures had been discussed with Staple Hill and Mangotsfield ward councillors beforehand, he said.
"Given these timescales, we have not been able to carry out a full consultation as we normally would expect to for a scheme of this scale before its implementation but we are providing as much information as possible and answering queries as quickly as we can. "Consultation will continue to run throughout the scheme’s trial.
"We needed to close the road the day before the scheme went live to allow us to put the measures in place and we informed residents of this by letter and online."
"We relocated the temporary closure barriers to the Teewell Hill end of Charnell Road on July 6 following feedback from residents and reports of dangerous driving.This change will help residents access their properties.We are reviewing both closures on Charnell Road and Signal Road and will be in touch with residents soon."
Residents have been contacting ward councillors Ian Boulton, Michael Bell and Katie Cooper about the closures. They have encouraged anyone who wants to give feedback about the scheme to email transportservices@southglos.gov.uk. Feedback can also be left online at www.sustrans.org/space-to-move.
Should the closures in Signal Rd and Charnell Rd be permanent? Email news@downendvoice.co.uk with views.