Council responds to People Friendly Salisbury comments
Wiltshire Council responds to letter
Referring to the recent Salisbury Journal article 'Salisbury councillors call for traffic plan to be put on hold', we would like to address some of the points in the letter and in the article.
This project is backed by Salisbury City Council and other partners in the city, and we were asked by them to make the city as car free as possible. In the 28 May edition of the Salisbury Journal, before the plans were announced, the article 'Large parts of Salisbury city centre could be pedestrianised', says: "In plans revealed to the Journal which includes input from Salisbury Police, Salisbury BID, Managing the City Pillar members, and businesses the city council has asked Wiltshire Council to 'be bold in its approach to make the city as car free as possible'."
We have been asked by the city's representatives to implement this project and, along with the need to respond quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic to help the city's recovery, this is why are we doing it now.
Other similar schemes around the country and abroad have seen positive increases on the number of visitors and shoppers, plus a reduction in shop vacancy rates. We hope for a similarly positive outcome for Salisbury.
It is also important to note that People Friendly Salisbury is not a pedestrianisation project; it is about prioritising walking and cycling, while also maintaining access for some vehicles, including emergency services, buses and coaches, taxis, Blue Badge holders, residents and deliveries to businesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people travel and will continue to do so this is the opportunity to do something different for the city that will make a positive change for visitors to the city centre, and improve air quality in the People Friendly zone. People can still access all car parks in the city and make use of the park and rides; the project does not affect access to the city by car, but it does prevent cars from travelling through the city centre.
The letter's authors suggest a bypass would be a solution a bypass is not currently on the Government's radar, and even if it was it could not be realised for many years. But we have been asked by the city council to make the Salisbury as car free as possible now.
We recognise the scheme's potential impact on the A36, which is why we have sought the support of Highways England, which is responsible for the A36.
Highways England supports the scheme and is working closely with us to monitor traffic flows on the A36 through the use of advanced monitoring technology, and we are also developing a contingency plan should there be a need to use it. We also know that there are much wider problems associated with the A36, and these require addressing in a more comprehensive way. Highways England is about to conduct a major review to consider the need for investment in the strategic road network through Wiltshire, between the M4 and the south coast, and we are working closely with them on this.
The letter also mentions consultation the scheme has been subject to consultation through the Central Area Framework, is undergoing consultation now, and will be subject to further consultation throughout the 18 months of the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO).
Finally, we also want to encourage people that make short car journeys across the city to walk or cycle where possible, and People Friendly Salisbury will help us to achieve that.
Please do have your say on the scheme; comments close at 3pm on Thursday 13 August, but people will also be able to comment and provide feedback on how the scheme is working throughout the 18 months of the ETRO. Find out more about the project.
Cllr Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Highways