Battle lines drawn as D-Day for Boots' corner changes looms
BATTLE lines have been drawn ahead of a showdown to decide the fate of plans to pedestrianise Boots’ corner and tear up Cheltenham’s one-way system.
An extraordinary meeting of the borough council has been put in the diary for November 18, when councillors will be asked if they want the proposals to proceed.
The need for the meeting was triggered after campaigners submitted a petition with more than 1,000 signatures calling for the authority to abandon the scheme.
Decision makers ran a nine-week consultation between July and September, asking hundreds of people for their views at 13 exhibitions.
They also sent out 16,000 consultation packs to homes in and around the town centre.
But they are still waiting for the results of the consultation to be analysed.
However, the report – showing what people think about the Cheltenham Transport Plan – is expected to be ready before the borough council meets.
The Transport Plan would see Boots’ Corner closed to all vehicles but buses and two-way traffic restored outside of Town Hall.
Gloucestershire County Council, which is in charge of making changes to highways, has led the consultation.
The borough council has said only once the county’s consultation analysis is available will it be “in a position to make a fully informed decision on whether or not to support the Cheltenham Transport Plan”.
Jeremy Williamson, managing director of Cheltenham Development Task Force, the group leading the project, said should the borough council reject the scheme the likelihood of it happening would be “highly unlikely”.
“Although it is a highways-led scheme, with the county council as the highways authority, they want to be confident that it is something the town genuinely wants to do,” he said.
“They don’t want to impose the scheme if there is not the public support – that is why it is seen as such a big topic.
“If the whole of Cheltenham Borough Council said ‘we don’t want this to proceed’ I don’t think the county would do it, but ultimately it is a county decision.”
Guy Woodcock, from the Cheltenham Residents Against Traffic Chaos group which compiled the petition, wants the borough council to “condemn” the plans on the grounds they would have a “negative affect”.
“We would earnestly appeal to all of the councillors to study the plans and to understand that the areas they represent will be negatively affected by these proposals and they need to deal with that,” he said.
“This is a very important issue and we would urge them passionately to study the plans.”
Mr Woodcock said he believes councillors are “beginning to take the issues seriously” and he hopes they will vote accordingly in November.
A spokesman for the county council said the consultation analysis report should be published by the end of October.
For all the background and full details visit the Cheltenham Transport Plan section on Cheltenham Borough Council's website.