CAMPAIGNERS who are against controversial changes to Thornbury High Street have defended the recent parish polls following the revelation that they cost the taxpayer more than £8,500.

The polls were called for at Thornbury’s annual town meeting and were carried out in May.

Electors were asked if they would like the high street returned to its pre-pandemic status and also if they wanted the town council to carry out a consultation on the future of the Armstrong Hall.

The cost was revealed recently in an article headed 'Parish poll shambles' published in the latest Liberal Democrat Focus newsletter which is circulated in the town.

It pointed out the money would have to be recouped in council tax from Thornbury residents.

The article also said that some people queued for more than an hour to vote while others who were unable to queue due to medical issues missed the opportunity altogether.

However, Thornbury Town and District Residents Association (TTADRA) claim voters were only waiting for around 40 minutes.

Commenting this week on the cost of the poll, John Reynolds, spokesperson for TTADRA said: "If the Liberal Democrats and the town’s three South Gloucestershire councillors had taken a more proactive and stronger, questioning stance against South Gloucestershire Council’s intentions in the first place, then perhaps the need for a parish poll would not have arisen.

"The scale of the public opposition to the scheme was already known to the councillors long before.

"In addition, does the town council complain about the cost to the taxpayer of a local council election which happens every four years?

"How many parish polls have been held in Thornbury in the past four years?

"Does the town council not include such contingencies in its budget?"

A spokesperson for the Thornbury and Severnvale Vale Liberal Democrat party said: "There was considerable anecdotal evidence of people being put off voting by the long queues.

"It is a fact that people queued for over an hour.

"Spotted in Thornbury had multiple complaints, including one person who says they queued for two hours.

"The residents' association website also includes evidence of people complaining of long waits.

"The polls were run correctly following the parish poll legislation, which was written in 1972.

"It is largely the antiquated system that the staff were forced to use that led to queuing and the high cost of over £8,500 that must be paid from residents' council tax.

"The legislation needs to be brought up to date."

The results of the poll was that 72 per cent of people wanted the High Street returned to its pre-pandemic status of through traffic for all vehicles and timed parking bays on both sides of the carriageway.

Despite the findings, South Gloucestershire Council says the changes will stay.