5:28pm Wednesday 28th November 2012
By Alexandra Womack
PEOPLE against the closure of a main artery route through Chipping Sodbury are celebrating victory after a tense meeting today.
A packed public gallery of around 45 people heard arguments for and against South Gloucestershire Council’s recommendation to close Hatters Lane to traffic for a trial period of six months.
Emotions were running high at the planning and transport select committee in Thornbury, but after an hour-and-a-quarter of heated debate councillors voted seven to five in favour of abandoning the scheme.
Nick Cragg, representing the Chamber of Commerce, Conservative Club and Masonic Hall, both based on Hatters Lane, and Keep Sodbury Safer Action Group, said: "Democracy has prevailed. Our overwhelming point is that with the exception of a few people, the whole of Chipping Sodbury want Hatters Lane to remain open."
In a survey carried out by the council, 88 of 99 respondents were against the closure. The authority did announce this summer it was dropping the proposal but the Frome Vale Area Forum recommended the scheme again.
Since then 2,150 people have signed a petition against closing Hatters Lane amid fears it would force traffic elsewhere and businesses on the road to close.
Graham Bond, who lives in Hatters Lane, said: "I believe the closure would actually push traffic down Gorlands Road and create more of a problem than the current situation."
But John Weir, who recently moved to Hatters Lane, said the road was dangerous.
He said: "I am amazed there has not been a serious accident and we don’t want to wait for something to happen.
"I believe we should leave it to the professionals but surely it is in the town’s best financial interest to encourage pedestrians to the high street."
Cllr Pat Hockey (Lib Dem, Frampton Cotterell) said: "If all the people who have signed this petition are driving through Hatters Lane, it is an awful situation and makes me feel very strongly that it should be closed."
But Cllr June Bamford (Con, Hanham) said: "If you close that road we would be sending traffic elsewhere, which would cause problems for other residents."
A motion to defer the scheme back to the Frome Vale Area Forum was lost on a vote of eight to five.
Cllr Bamford’s proposal to abandon the scheme and reallocate £9,000 to fund alternative schemes was agreed on a vote of seven to five, with one abstention.
Residents for and against have agreed to meet to discuss alternative safety schemes for Hatters Lane.
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