SEVEN Salisbury city councillors and the President of Salisbury Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter calling for Wiltshire Council to reconsider its pedestrianisation plans.
In it, Cllr Stephen Berry, Cllr Jo Broom, Cllr Kevin Daley, Cllr Amanda Foster, Cllr Simon Jackson, Cllr Dr Mark McClelland, Cllr Liz Sirman and Andy Rhind-Tutt wrote: “We all support the principle of making the city a more welcoming place for cyclists and pedestrians. But the radical changes on the table cannot succeed without a bypass or alternative way of people and businesses being able to travel easily from one side of Salisbury to the other.
“Making it harder for traffic to travel through the city centre will severely aggravate the congestion challenges we face on the A36 inner relief road. This will hamper local residents going about their daily lives, cost local businesses time and money, and reduce the attractiveness of Salisbury for visitors who will go elsewhere to avoid being stuck in our traffic jams.”
The letter adds: “Supporters of the scheme counter that this will just be an experimental project and we can change our minds if it does not work out. The reality is that once significant funds are sunk it will be very difficult to change course at a later date. It is not the right time to be running a controversial experiment.
“Due to the pandemic, traffic patterns will not be at a normal level in Salisbury during any trial period so impossible to draw accurate conclusions for the long term. And the scheme will not reduce air pollution but merely move it out of commercial areas into residential zones.”
According to the group, the £1m needed to implement the scheme will be “better spent” working on a bypass or extending the operational hours of the park and ride.
They add: “Finally, we are very concerned about the democratic deficit at the heart of this project. The two-week consultation period for the scheme is far too short for the largest change in Salisbury’s roads for 50 years. The survey for the consultation contains loaded questions and – no doubt wary of the answer – inexplicably fails to simply ask whether local residents support or oppose the scheme.
“The project did not feature in any party’s manifesto at the last Wiltshire Council election. No one voted for it. It cannot be right that such a scheme is imposed on the city in the absence of demonstrable public support. Survey results from a tiny minority of Salisbury residents are no substitute for proper democratic accountability.”