Council to push ahead with Thornbury High Street changes despite vote to reverse them

May 27 2022
Council to push ahead with Thornbury High Street changes despite vote to reverse them

SOUTH Gloucestershire Council says it will push ahead with making changes to Thornbury High Street permanent, regardless of a local vote calling for them to be reversed.

Yesterday's parish poll saw 72% of the 2,568 voters who took part agree that they wanted the road "returned to its pre-pandemic status of through traffic for all vehicles and timed parking bays on both sides of the carriageway".

But the council, which is in the process of turning the measures brought in during lockdown to ban through traffic and increase pedestrian space on the street into a permanent scheme, said it was “committed” to the project.

The vote was a parish poll, called at the annual town meeting to establish the opinion of residents on the issue.

But the result is not binding on South Gloucestershire.

A council spokesperson said: “We welcome public feedback on our plans for Thornbury High Street. We know that there are strong feelings on both sides about the changes.

"We are committed to progressing our plans to deliver on our vision for Thornbury, with a sustainable high street at its heart that is fit for the future and welcoming for all.

“We will continue to work closely with people who live and work in the town to explain these plans; to improve them where we can; and to deliver the projects needed in terms of the infrastructure the town needs so that everyone can share in that sustainable future.”

Works to make the changes permanent are due to begin this summer and will finish by October next year.

Campaigners say the changes mean shops on the High Street will see fewer customers, as well as worsening congestion elsewhere in the town.

Rob Galpin, of Thornbury Town and District Residents Association, said the council should heed the result of the poll, which was voted on by 23% of the town's electors.

He said: “A resounding yes vote was given by the residents of Thornbury yesterday.

"The residents' association calls on [council leader] Toby Savage, the cabinet, councillors and heads of department to come to Thornbury and visit residents, to learn what’s really needed rather than pursue their vision, which patently now needs to be discarded."

Queues built up at the three venues where residents went to vote in the poll between 4pm and 9pm. Votes could only be cast in person.

Rob added: “The atmosphere within the queues was good-natured and almost a party atmosphere, as those with different opinions made the most of their time in which they were thrown together.

"This was very pleasing after the past two years in which the population was divided on the future of the High Street. Maybe now there is the opportunity to come together and agree on the best way forward for Thornbury.”

By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service