Robin Whitlock commented on CFP walk

Robin Whitlock: South Bristol Link Road ‘will cut our community in half’

Oct 12, 2011
“People are afraid the South Bristol Link Road will cut their community in half. Residents in Withywood and Hartcliffe are particularly worries because of the likelihood of huge amounts of traffic,” says Chris Bloor, who has led runners from The Town and Country Harriers through the area for 12 years.

The South Bristol Ring Road is undoubtedly a hot topic for residents in the area now. According to the West of England Partnership’s TravelPlus website, the planned road will link the A370 to the A4174 Hartcliffe Roundabout and will include rapid transit bus lanes, bus priority measures and facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.

The website makes a point of stating that a major role of the road will be to provide a new route for the rapid transit system while the business case document stresses that at present South Bristol suffers from poor transport links and congestion. It also makes clear that a prime motive is to stimulate regeneration and growth in the area.

But the benefits are disputed by a number of Bristol residents and by interest groups such as Transport for Greater Bristol, Bristol Green Party and Friends of the Community Forest Path (CFP).

The CFP is a pathway that winds its way around Bristol using various footpaths, tracks and a number of rural lanes with particularly fine views across the Mendips and the Severn estuary. One of the areas threatened by the road scheme is the stretch of the path between Long Ashton and the A38.

With this in mind, on Saturday a group of local residents from affected areas along the route got together to walk the path as far as Highridge Common in order to draw attention to the threat presented by the road.

The road scheme is something that particularly irritates many residents living in the areas of the city likely to be affected it. Elizabeth Ellis, writing on the wall of Bristol Green Party’s Facebook group, points out that it will run through quiet suburban areas and over unspoilt countryside.

The area is actually part of the city’s Green Belt according to Pip Sheard writing on the Campaign For Better Transport website. She stresses in her article that “the public prefer improved public transport to new road building”.

This is a view echoed by George Monbiot who argues that the UK’s craze for new road schemes takes us back to the days of the old Tory government. The Campaign For Better Transport believe that such road schemes are an expensive waste of money.

Sian Berry said recently in an interview with BBC News: “Roads at £8,000 per metre are hugely expensive and unproven. This is a waste of money and there are better ways of sorting public transport – especially when council budgets are tight.”

Meanwhile, the Campaign Against the South Bristol Link advocate the opening of the Portishead rail line as an alternative to the road scheme. Although this idea has consistently been disregarded by those in power in the city.

Part of the route of the planned road runs across Highridge Common. This is where local resident Barry Lewis met the walkers on Saturday. He is really worried about what’s going to happen to this area as he’s lived in the area for the past 60 years, ever since his estate was first built. He told me that lots of people living nearby use the common to walk their dogs and enjoy its green space.

“It’s quite a chunk that’s going to be taken off it,” he said. “I can’t see why they want to take it, I want something left for my grandchildren.”

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