Ring road protest petition tops 1,300 signatures
MORE than 1,300 people have signed a petition to scrap controversial £30 million plans for roadworks at five roundabouts on the Avon Ring Road.
The online petition calls on South Gloucestershire Council to drop its scheme, which has just been through a 12-week public consultation.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris has stepped up his opposition to the A4174 proposals, branding them as “tinkering” when much more needs to be done to tackle the climate emergency.
South Gloucestershire Council, which announced the scheme and launched public consultation in May, insists the measures will ease congestion and reduce air pollution.
The plans are for new lanes to be built to take through traffic across the middle of three roundabouts – Siston Hill near Mangotsfield, Deanery Road near Warmley and Kingsfield, at Longwell Green – transforming them into what the council calls "throughabouts".
The other two – Lyde Green roundabout, near the Bristol and Bath Science Park, and the Rosary roundabout, by Emersons Green shopping centre – would have extra lanes added.
The improvements would be paid for largely by the government and include extra traffic lights and pedestrian crossings – but no bus lanes.
South Gloucestershire Green Party started the petition opposing the plans, which had 1,375 signatures as the Voice went to press.
It says the scheme will cause years of disruption, ignores buses, cyclists and pedestrians, and does "nothing to address the climate emergency".
One of the organisers, Emersons Green town councillor James Dowling, said the changes were a "complete waste of money" and would actually increase car journeys.
He said: “You might get through the roundabout a bit quicker if you’re going straight ahead, but people will be waiting longer from all the side roads in Warmley, Longwell Green and Mangotsfield and will be idling, which is really bad for air quality.
“When you increase capacity on roads, which they’re doing, you basically induce demand, so you make it easier for cars.
“The other thing is the years and years of disruption this will cause."
Mr Norris said the region's target of achieving 'net zero' CO2 emissions required them to be reduced by 10% every single year.
He said: “What I’m concerned about is that when you do any road programme you just make it easier for cars in the short term, so more people make car journeys and you end up in the same place, or even worse.
“The reality is that this is just tinkering. Because the climate emergency is so vast, we have to do more, frankly, than just tinker with five roundabouts on our ring road.
“It’s crazy to spend £30million and not do something to improve public transport so that people can switch from cars, because that is key.”
Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore, whose constituency includes all five roundabouts in the scheme, has written to the council saying that, while supports it in principle, the council should wait to see how effective the first 'throughabout' scheme at the Wraxall Road roundabout near Kingswood – which is due to be completed by the end of October – is before converting other junctions.
Mr Skidmore also called for the extension of Metrobus services beyond the current terminus in Lyde Green and for the council to make "significant efforts" to minimise rat-running during the roadworks.
He said: "The A4174 ring road is the transport backbone of our local economy. We must invest in it not only to protect existing jobs, but also to provide the jobs of the future – and must do so carefully and in consultation with local people.
"Doing nothing represents an economic threat to our area that will ultimately undermine the quality of life for people living and working in Kingswood."
South Gloucestershire Council received 884 responses to its consultation questionnaire on the roadworks.
A spokesperson said the council was "currently appraising the feedback", adding: "Potential changes will be considered in light of the public consultation responses and we will release a consultation summary report in October setting out the next steps, including any design change responses."
An earlier consultation on the Wraxall Road scheme received 231 responses.
Council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure Steve Reade said: “There is an increasing volume of traffic, and having declared a climate emergency we do need to improve the efficiency of the roundabouts.
“We are not building extra lanes, it is simply using the lanes that we’ve got.
“It’s to enable people to move efficiently and stop the rat-running. It’s the rat-running which causes the problems and the pollution.”
Cllr Reade said modelling showed that overall traffic delays would be “considerably less” under the planned changes.
The petition can be found online at bit.ly/3zmXw3A.
Includes reporting by Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service