B&NES backs down over Keynsham town centre traffic proposals

Following pressure from local Conservative Councillors, Bath and North East Somerset Council has backed down over the planned location of pedestrian crossings in Keynsham Town Centre.

Last week, the Council’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet Member for Transport approved plans which appeared to suggest that concerns voiced by residents over the proposed location of the pedestrian crossings had been ignored by the Council, and that B&NES was planning pressing ahead regardless of public opposition.

However, after Conservative Councillors launched an official challenge of the Cabinet decision, known as a ‘call-in’, B&NES agreed to back down from these plans – stating that the final decision on the exact location of the crossings would not be decided until the Council could assess the results of a traffic survey. As a result, Conservative Councillors agreed to withdraw the call-in request.

Under the Council’s original plans, a permanent pedestrian crossing would have been installed in the same place as the current temporary crossing near the Fire Station on Temple Street, but there were no plans to locate signalised crossings on either Rock Road or near the junction with Bath Hill.

These plans sparked warnings from both residents and Councillors that pedestrians were still likely to cross near the junction with Bath Hill without the aid of a pedestrian crossing.

However, as a result of several months pressure from residents and Councillors, B&NES has finally now agreed to revise its plans, including making provision for a permanent crossing on Rock Road and undertaking the further technical work needed to bring forward plans for a crossing near the Bath Hill junction on Temple Street.  The Council will also look at the ability for pedestrians to cross near the top of Bath Hill.

Councillor Alan Hale (Cons, Keynsham South), who led the challenge of the Council’s decision, said:

“It beggars belief that anyone can design a civic centre and then make it dangerous to reach by totally ignoring a pedestrian desire-line established over four decades and instead installing a controlled crossing where there is little demand to cross – meaning pedestrians continue to cross through moving traffic without the aid of a crossing.

“It has been even more frustrating that it was necessary to engage two Strategic Directors into the discussion before common sense started to play a part in resolving this matter.  I trust that pedestrian safety will be established very soon in the most sensible and logical location near the Bath Hill junction. 

Councillor Charles Gerrish (Cons, Keynsham North) added:

“The saga surrounding the highway layout around the new Civic Centre has been a complete fiasco for B&NES right from the start.  It’s just a shame that the genuine concerns expressed by residents and Councillors in Keynsham weren’t listened to in the first place.

“There has clearly been a serious lack of forward-planning by B&NES, meaning that residents of Keynsham have had to live with an incomplete town centre for far longer than they should have.  These issues should have been resolved months ago – or even at the planning stage of the development. This outcome does at least show that perseverance pays off. ”