WILTSHIRE council has today been accused of ‘passing the buck’ back to Bradford on Avon Town Council following a public consultation into the future of transport in the town.

Over 2,700 people responded to the six-week consultation and identified three key priorities; pedestrian and cyclist safety, air quality and traffic volume.

On Tuesday, March 29 the town council’s Sustainable Transport Committee met to discuss the results of the Future of Transport consultation and agreed to send the Copper Consultancy report to the highways department at Wiltshire Council.

The hope was county highway officers would provide a solution to the town’s high traffic volumes, traffic congestion and air pollution issues and to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

But Cllr Dr Mark McClelland, Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, has told local councillors he was looking to them to provide solutions.

“I had always thought that the purpose of the survey was to give the town council a basis upon which to affirm their support (or not) for what might in principle be a locally supported intervention.

“Bradford on Avon Town Council’s first-hand experience of the social distancing ‘trial’ scheme has also been especially valuable in that regard.

“Having regard to the above, I interpreted your position as being inclined to support a proposition that involved the use of traffic management.

"More specifically, achieved by a redistribution of movement within the town with changes that remove vehicular traffic from the more constrained parts of the network (i.e. Market Street/Masons Lane) onto those roads with fewer constraints (i.e. New Road/Springfield).

“This is likely to involve the use of one-way working on parts of the network currently subject to two-way working. It is also recognised that additional measures will need to be identified to help mitigate those roads likely to be subject to increases in vehicular traffic.

“Before proceeding any further, I would be grateful if the Town Council could formally confirm that they support in principle a general solution as set out above.

“On the basis that Town Council support is indeed forthcoming, I would then look to allocate officer time to further develop potential solutions to allow a further round of consultation to take place.

“It may also be necessary to discuss the potential for a local financial contribution towards that work.

"However, I am not prepared to authorise further work on a solution in the absence of a clear steer from the elected representatives of the town.”

Responding on May 9, Bradford on Avon Town Council’s new mayor, Cllr Katie Vigar, said that members had unanimously voted at the Annual Town Council meeting on May 3 to support Wiltshire Council’s approach to traffic management in the town.

“Given the results of the Future of Transport consultation, we agree that the proposed way forward is a sensible basis on which to proceed.

“As a council, we are extremely keen to see mitigation for areas likely to experience increases in traffic volumes embedded in any proposal from the start.

“Members would like to stress that the consultation questions, and the views expressed by residents, relate to town-wide issues and are not centred solely on the area around the bridge.

“We would like to see initial thoughts that provide a strategy for the whole town and its wider connections, including measures that ultimately reduce traffic volume as well as address pedestrian safety and air quality concerns.”

But George Lunt, 79, who lives in Woolley Street, and is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Bath, and who has campaigned against the one-way system, accused Wiltshire Council of passing the buck, saying: “The term pathetic comes to mind. Passing the buck sums it up very well.

“Cllr McClelland is the County Cabinet member with overall responsibility for Highways and Traffic. His letter, once you've made your way through the Civil Service management speak says – ‘I'm not making any decisions - over to you’.

“This is in the context of BoA's "trial" one-way system, which we were assured by Dr McClelland's predecessor wasn't a trial one-way system at all, but which the current BoA town council now seem eager to adopt.

“So, we had a trial one-way system that the various "authorities" repeatedly told us was not a one-way trial. Then the town council appointed consultants to carry out a survey of the whole issue of traffic, pedestrian safety etc etc; in reality it was a referendum on the one-way system.

“The results are far from clear but clearly the town council interpret them as supporting a one-way system.

“The county - the body with full responsibility for all matters relating to highways and traffic seems to say, we have no views, do what you like.

“This is the same authority that over the past many years has made several assessments of one-way systems and has always concluded they were not viable.”