Council U-turn on road closures
Residents of Teewell Hill, Teewell Avenue and Lydney Road protesting in Charnell Road
SOUTH Gloucestershire Council is to remove concrete blocks shutting two roads in Staple Hill to through traffic.
The council has reversed an earlier recommendation that the closure of Charnell Road and Signal Road, off Teewell Hill, should be made permanent.
The council blocked both roads last year on an experimental basis, saying the move would help encourage walking and cycling on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path during the covid lockdown, by diverting traffic away from its entrance off Charnhill Drive.
In August residents of Signal Road and Charnell Road were sent letters telling them council officers were recommending the closures be made permanent. The council said residents of both streets had backed the scheme.
But people living in other streets nearby, including Teewell Hill, Teewell Avenue and Lydney Road, said traffic on their roads had become much worse – and accused the authority of disregarding opposition from the wider area, both in consultation surveys and petitions.
The council has now confirmed that it will remove the road closures: a spokesperson said this was due to happen on December 23.
A scheme to investigate a 20mph zone in the Charnhill Drive area will be added to the council’s local transport priority list, to "address the traffic issues likely to return once the closures are removed".
A council statement said: "Whilst we recognise that the experimental road closures have received positive responses from the roads immediately affected, ie Signal Road and Charnell Road, the consultation results show that the closures have not been well received over the wider area.
"The general view from the local community is that the closures have introduced further traffic issues on the neighbouring roads.
"Properties near the closure points have experienced private driveways being used as turning areas and obstructed by deliveries, taxis and visitors, and large vehicles reversing out onto Teewell Hill."
Teewell Hill resident Chris Evans, who campaigned against the closures, said the council's change of heart was a victory for residents' "collective spirit", and would make the area safer.
She said: "I am sure we will be out celebrating the removal of the bollards blocking the side roads with a glass or two of bubbly. What a great Christmas present!"
Chris said residents now wanted an open meeting to look at suggestions for traffic calming measures across the entire area that "don't favour one road against another".
Many residents of Charnhill Drive, which connects to Signal Road, had supported the closures, which had prevented drivers travelling between Mangotsfield and Kingswood from using their road to avoid the Teewell Hill traffic lights.
One resident, who asked not to be named, said: "It's been lovely and quiet. Once it is opened up it will become a rat run again.
"They can bring in a 20mph limit but it's how you enforce it that's the problem. They might need to put in chicanes."
Staple Hill & Mangotsfield ward councillors Michael Bell, Ian Boulton and Katie Cooper said a "significant minority" of residents wanted to keep the scheme, which officers had introduced "with the best intentions" of making the railway path safer.
But they added: "There has been no evidence to demonstrate that traffic across the wider neighbourhood has reduced."
The councillors are calling for a wider traffic management scheme for the neighbourhood, better enforcement of speed limits and support for alternatives to private car use.