Bristol and North Somerset councillors set to build Ring Road.

by By pass my arse
on Thursday 04 Feb 2010

type: News Report
topic: The Environment
region: Somerset
A bid for government funding for the South Bristol Link was approved today by the West of England Partnership, in the face of widespread opposition. Now it just needs the nod from the councils of Bristol and North Somerset.

The scheme includes a new road between the Hartcliffe roundabout and the A370 at Long Ashton, completing the 'ring road' through from the Cumberland Basin approaches to the A4 east and north. Alongside the new stretch, through green belt land and residential areas, will be a bus rapid transit route.

Bristol's Cabinet Member for Transport, Jon Rogers, explained his backing for the scheme on the grounds that "if we are seen to falter we run a real risk of losing it all". His opposite number in North Somerset, Elfan ap Rees, accused opponents of the scheme of making "lots of mischievous misleading comments" before making the dubious claim that the scheme will benefit N. Somerset residents by making commuting by car into Bristol quicker.

The plans had already come in for criticism from councillors of the four local authorities who complained of the 'incompleteness' of the economic case for the Link, and refused to back it without further information. The same complaint was made by several of the many objectors at this morning's meeting, including the Bristol South Green Party. They added a withering critique of the impacts of more traffic through South Bristol, and serious doubts about the viability of the proposed bendy bus route (expected to carry no more than 200 passengers in the morning peak hour).

None of these issues was addressed in the officers' presentation of the case for the South Bristol Link, but Members endorsed the plans anyway.

Next, the two councils involved must approve the bid, as it will involve both in significant costs. The outcome in North Somerset (23rd March) is regarded as a foregone conclusion, but it remains to be seen whether on 25th March Bristol's LibDem administration can bring itself to approve what is, unquestionably, a polluting, traffic generating, socially divisive bypass.