North Somerset set to ban vehicles from rural roads

Posted on 6th April, 2021

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UPDATE 07APR21 - NSC withdraw TRO pending new drafting and consultation, stating, '... on this occasion, we’ve not provided the necessary information or context in advance of notices going up." (PDF)

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As the government starts to lift lockdown North Somerset Council starts to restrict freedom of movement, by turning public rural roads into restricted, access only areas.

 

North Somerset Council (NSC) proposes to ban motor vehicles (with exemptions) from the network of lanes between Clevedon, Yatton, Nailsea, Claverham and Backwell, including Backwell Common and Backwell Bow. Please see the list of affected roads here, along with a petition here, which already has over 3,500 signatures, and a facebook group - Save Our Access. (UPDATE 07APR21-PDF)

 

During the repeated lockdowns and tiered releases that have restricted everyones freedom of movement over the last year, it has become increasingly apparent how important it is to be free to choose where to visit, and how to do that, especially to support mental health and well-being. Not everyone is able to walk or cycle. Some, especially the elderly and less physically mobile, enjoy the freedom to take an accompanied calming drive through the countryside. These proposed rural shutdowns will prevent, or 'lockdown', that freedom.

 

What are the implications for Bleadon and the Levels as NSC rolls out its 'Rural Lanes Active Travel Enhancement Scheme'? Although mentioned in various press releases, details and future plans of this Rural scheme are not easily found? Will parts of rural areas effectively become enforced 'Park & Ride' for people wanting to experience the countryside by bike and foot? Will it potentially create 'no-go zones' (except for business & service industry access)? Will it encourage greater rural development in these 'people safe' areas? Are people given full information before giving their opinion on surveys that are used to implement policies?

 

NSC's Active Travel Strategy, following national policy, aims to increase the number of journeys undertaken by walking and cycling by at least 300% by 2030, by shutting down roads. They anticipate that restricting access to these rural roads will form the foundation of a wider ‘Rural Lanes Active Travel Enhancement Scheme’, encouraged by government funding via the DfT Active Travel Fund, NSC state,  "In some locations, the “access only” restriction could be supported by future measures, including ... physical measures to close roads to motor vehicles." (PDF)

 

Full details of NSC's proposal are contained in the notice of intent, draft order, a plan of the affected area, and a Statement of the Council’s Reasons for proposing to make the Order.

 

Comments can be made via email to Nicholas Brain, Assistant Director Governance & Monitoring Officer, at traffic.orders@n-somerset.gov.uk, quoting the reference ATF2/RL/310321 by 5pm on 30th April 2021. Alternatively, write to Town Hall, Weston-super-Mare BS23 1UJ, Tel No (01934) 888888.

 

NB: NSC proposes to make the order under sections 1(1), 2(1) to (3) and 4(1) of and Part IV of Schedule 9 to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 as amended.

 

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