TODAY is crunch time for residents in Thornbury as they go to the polls over the town's future.

Residents will vote in two parish polls tonight to help decide controversial changes to the High Street and the future of the iconic Armstrong hall.

They will answer questions on whether they want the High Street to be returned to its pre-pandemic state and be used by vehicles - and whether more consultation is needed about what happens to Armstrong hall. 

The High Street issue, in particular, has proved controversial with arguments over whether public support is in favour of semi-pedestrianisation or not.

Residents will be asked to vote Yes or No in the two polls and the results for both are expected to be announced later that evening.

Here we speak to both sides.

The No vote:

Stephen Davey, who agrees with the changes to the High Street and will be voting NO he said: "High streets have been in decline for a long time and must adapt to survive. 

"They should be the social and family hub of a town.

"Pedestrianisation has been proven to enhance the shopping and social experience.

"The high street must adapt or die. It’s important to find and include alternative solutions for those with mobility issues so that everybody can enjoy what could be a fantastic shopping and social experience.

"Many harp back to the “Good old Days” but they have gone. No butchers or bakers remain but now there are great places to eat and drink. These have seen real positives from the current arrangement and those people will breathe life back into our high street."

Sandra Davies, landlady of the Swan in Thornbury, put a poster in the pub window to say vote no and said she had received a backlash from some residents with calls for people to 'boycott' the pub.

She said: "I fail to understand what I have done so wrong,  as someone who lives, works and has a business on the high street, why am I not allowed to voice my opinion.

"People have been told to boycott my business, but how does that help the high street to thrive?

"I am aware of a lot of people who will be voting no and I hope it's fair for all tomorrow."

The 'yes' vote: 

Rob Galpin, secretary of the Thornbury Town and District Residents Association who opposes the changes said they want through traffic to return as well as 'adequate' short term parking. TTADRA say this will allow 'Thornbury to thrive once again.'

They claim the diverted traffic causes 'problems and 'air pollution.' 

He said: "We are hopeful that a yes vote in the parish poll will once again show that the wishes of the residents of Thornbury, and of the outlying villages, have been consistently ignored by South Gloucestershire Council.

"Even now after two years of unwarranted destruction, there is still time to get together and work out a constructive way forward that suits everyone."


What will the polls ask?


The Armstrong Hall poll will ask: Would you like the Town Council to carry out a consultation with residents and Armstrong Hall users as was previously done when coming to a decision on the future of the Armstrong Hall?”

The High Street polls will ask: “Do you want Thornbury High Street returned to its pre-pandemic status of through traffic for all vehicles and timed parking bays on both sides of the carriageway?”

A spokesperson for South Gloucestershire Council added: “We welcome public feedback on our plans for Thornbury High Street and will continue to work closely with people who live and work in the town to develop a sustainable high street that is fit for the future and welcoming for all.”

The polls will open at 4pm on Thursday, May 26.