Thornbury: 'Divisive' high street changes approved

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image copyrightJaggery/Geograph
image captionThe High Street in Thornbury was closed due to social distancing concerns

A town's High Street scheme brought in because of the pandemic has been adopted permanently despite opposition from the community.

South Gloucestershire Council closed the route in Thornbury on 7 June last year as part of social distancing.

But traders and residents had urged the council to reopen the road to boost footfall and to improve access.

Council leader Toby Savage said he was "comfortable" they had taken the feedback into account.

The local authority's ruling group voted unanimously to adopt the scheme permanently on Monday, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service

Through-traffic is banned from the High Street and a one-way system allows access for delivery drivers and residents.

'Very divisive'

New changes mean drop-off and pick-up points will be added for shoppers and more on-street parking will be provided for blue badge holders.

Council cabinet members have defended their decision, which they say "supports the local economy, the community and our climate emergency goals".

Thornbury councillor Maggie Tyrrell, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, said it was no surprise that the "very divisive" experiment had triggered a "well organised campaign" of opposition.

But she added there were problems with traffic on the High Street before the pandemic and two previous consultations had found residents wanted it to be "more pedestrian friendly".

image copyrightSouth Gloucestershire Council
image captionConcept images have been draw up by the council showing its "vision" for the future of Thornbury High Street

It followed objections from dozens of residents who wrote to the council expressing their objections.

One person wrote: "Before making decisions this afternoon, bear in mind that the majority of Thornbury are against these proposals."

Lin Guppy, who petitioned against the pedestrianisation, said the closure was a "huge" problem, especially for the elderly and disabled.

She added: "It's punishing the traders there. They're really struggling because of footfall."

Of nearly 2,900 people who responded to a public consultation about the changes, 65% disagreed with making the pedestrian and cycle zone permanent, and 49% disagreed with the one-way system completely.

The council will consult further with the public as it develops more detail around its vision for the High Street.

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