Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

South Bristol Link: time to weigh up the option.

Spot the difference.....



This is what Jon Rogers and the other three West of England Partnership Transport Executive Members approved when they met on 1st October. These two road/BRT options recommended for further examination and consultation might have surprised them - after all, they'd not been among the five shortlisted for the previous round of consultation or for the 'Options Appraisal' study of their probable impacts. Nonetheless, the Execs nodded it through.



This is what the two options favoured in October have now become. Somewhere, somehow in these last four weeks the southern option has been dropped. All that's on the table is the BRT to nowhere and the 'northern option' road. That's the one that squeezes 10,000 vehicles a day through the now quiet backwater of King Georges Road, swells traffic entering the Cumberland Basin by 20%, and increases journey times into the city centre. All in the name of cutting congestion, cutting emissions, and some nebulous claims of regeneration.

So now we're invited to comment on just one option. Hobson's choice. The 'consultation' takes the form:
"We welcome your views on the scheme - please help us by answering a few questions at the end of this pamphlet."

OK, I'll probably do that before deadline day. But I wonder if they'll first answer mine?

* Who took the decision to cut the two options mandated by the Execs, to just one?

* How are you going to cope with the extra traffic you'll bring to the Cumberland Basin - especially if a stadium and a superstore get added to the mix?

* Will you keep the bus rapid transit in the scheme, subsidising it to make up for its losses?

* How on earth will you explain yourselves to people living on the route?

* How do you square this new ring road with:
Cutting CO2?
Peak Oil?
Cutting congestion?
Getting people out of their cars?

* Whose tune is it that you're dancing to?

8 comments:

Jon Rogers said...

Morning Pete

Happy to answer your questions as best I can.

If you want formal answers, then can I suggest that you submit them either to Cabinet or to Full Council. These are "off the top of my head" responses in the spirit of openness!

Our administrations approach to consultation is different to our predecessors. In particular, we are keen to get the problem stated and out in the public arena. In the case of the South Bristol Link that has been out and discussed for 20 years or more. How do we support regeneration of South Bristol? How do we rebalance the city which is thriving in the north, but struggling in the south?

Secondly to involve, inform, engage, seek feedback on possible solutions. This too has been going on for many years, with repeated reports commissioned, consultations, lobbies, route options and reserved corridors identified etc. Funding bids have been made and are progressing as part of RFA2.

The next stage is to publish a preferred route and seek a formal consultation on that preference. What will that route actually mean to likely users, residents, businesses, etc? Have we identified all the issues? That is the stage we are now at.

You asked several questions. My answers are hopefully in bold

"Who took the decision to cut the two options mandated by the Execs, to just one?"

At the Joint Transport Executive Committee meeting where we endorsed the report, it became clear that neither Elfan Ap Rees nor I were keen on the southern routes identified. We saw them as encouraging an Urban Extension which both North Somerset and Bristol Cabinets are firmly against. We therefore asked our respective officers to proceed with the northern options only for the next stage.

* How are you going to cope with the extra traffic you'll bring to the Cumberland Basin - especially if a stadium and a superstore get added to the mix?

There are a lot of questions about traffic flow, cost benefit ratio, development plans, community acceptability, etc, etc which now need to be explored.

* Will you keep the bus rapid transit in the scheme, subsidising it to make up for its losses?

The proposal is for a single carriageway road and a rapid transit route, together with cycling and pedestrian paths. The capital and revenue costs will need to be explored.

* How on earth will you explain yourselves to people living on the route?

People living on the route have known for many years that a South Bristol link road is on the cards. Many of them welcome such a scheme and can't understand why their councils have been so slow in delivering. Many have rat runs past their houses, and the poor access to South Bristol means that local shops and businesses sometimes struggle. There will be plenty of opportunity to comment and feedback.

* How do you square this new ring road with:
Cutting CO2?
Peak Oil?
Cutting congestion?
Getting people out of their cars?


These are all top priorities for our administration. It is not just a road, it is a rapid transit route which should deliver against all of these.

* Whose tune is it that you're dancing to?

As elected representatives we listen and respond to the people of Bristol. Haven't you noticed the difference yet?

Jon

Pete Goodwin said...

Thanks for the quick reply, Jon. I'm sure it's every bit as good as I would have got from asking the same questions in Cabinet or Council. I'm afraid West of England is nowhere near as quick as publishing Minutes as Bristol City is, so I hope we'll see your first answer confirmed in the Oct 1st minutes ? I would have been at the meeting myself to hear it, but deepest W-S-M isn't the easiest place to get to by public transport.

All your remaining answers about the Link/Ring Road seem just as open as when the scheme was first mooted. If such fundamental issues are still to be resolved, how the hell did we reach a position where there is only one option on the table? Not even a 'do minimum' alternative ?

Jon Rogers said...

Thanks Pete

You say, "Deepest W-S-M isn't the easiest place to get to by public transport."

Actually it is! The trains from BTM are frequent and pretty cheap and get off at Worle and <10min walk.

Jon

Jon said...

"Do nothing/minimum" is always an option, and indeed one often selected by my predecessors.

Pete Goodwin said...

""Do nothing/minimum" is always an option"

If that's true, Jon - and not just an irresistible chance for a one-liner at the opposition's expense - should we take it this next stage of 'consultation' will seriously weigh the 'do minimum' scenario against the one option that now remains on the table?

Chris Hutt said...

We now know what the next stage of consultation looks like - http://bit.ly/2TSb1X.

The consultation is an absolute farce. The four questions are mostly comcerned with prompting you to identify 'the benefits of the scheme' and only one question invites you to express your 'concerns'.

There's no invitation to say whether you are in favour of the proposals or not, which you might think was the main point of such a consultation.

Pete Goodwin said...

I think the main point of the consultation is to tick a box - allowing them to move on to the next bidding stage.

Pete Goodwin said...

Topic continued here. Will Jon get the 'do minimum' option onto the table?