Shropshire Star

£600,000 road upgrades around Shrewsbury schools where pupils have been hit by cars 'substandard', say councillors

A £600,000 scheme to revamp roads in a part of Shrewsbury where several children have been hit by cars is "sub-standard", says a group of councillors.

Last updated
Councillor Bernie Bentick is one of the group to co-sign the letter

A letter jointly signed by councillors, say the Meole Active Travel Quarter scheme could "undermine" Shropshire Council's reputation to deliver projects, and the confidence of residents in the authority's spending of public money.

The plans, which have been several years in the making, came as a result of a groundswell of community concern over road safety.

A number of reports of children being involved in collisions have been made over the years. The Radbrook Road Safety campaign group was launched after a former pupil of The Priory School suffered a nasty leg injury when he was knocked off his bike.

Drawings of proposed changes were unveiled this week, including crossings at Roman Road roundabout and on Longden Road, separated cycle and pedestrian lanes in Bank Farm Road and the moving of a bus stop further away from a shop. Members of the public reacted positively to the plans.

However, Shrewsbury councillors Bernie Bentick, Julian Dean, Kate Halliday and Julia Evans have co-signed a letter which is critical of the scheme.

They have jointly written to councillors Ian Nellins and Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Councils' portfolio holders for Climate Change, Environment and Transport and for Children and Education respectively.

They said: "There has been broad cross-party support for action in this area due to the co-location of two large secondary schools and its identification as a road traffic collision cluster site. Promises were made to the community that an area-wide approach would be taken including Bank Farm Road, Longden Road, related junctions and the Longden Road/Roman Road Roundabout

"It is worth noting at this point that in September 2020, Shropshire Council unanimously backed the government’s 'Gear Change' policy and pledged that all future infrastructure built in the county would conform to the standards laid out in LTN 1/20. The core design principles are that infrastructure should be coherent, direct, safe, comfortable and attractive.

"On a general point, the fact that the three schemes are not joined up is a major issue. We expected action to be taken on the Bank Farm Road/Longden Road junction, as well as improvements to Longden Road which is host to the major school entrances. To see neither of these in the proposals is not only extremely disappointing, but also undermines the effectiveness of the scheme as a whole. Strenuous efforts should be made to avoid inconsistent provision.

"This said, we would not wish to risk funding of the project, either by formally objecting to the whole of the scheme, or by submitting plans which are so far removed from the Active Travel principles and guidelines in LTN 1/20 that they are rejected by the government for those reasons."

LTN 1/20 is a local transport note which provides guidance to local authorities on delivering high quality, cycle infrastructure.

The councillors say cycle movements on the Roman Road roundabout are "not protected" and changes are principally for the benefit of motorists.

They also argue that the cycle lane in Bank Farm Road should be half a metre wider.

"We accept that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good," the councillors added. "However, to provide sub-standard schemes which do not result in increased use will undermine the council’s reputation for delivery, and the confidence of residents in the council to spend public money efficiently.

"We, the councillors representing the electoral wards in which these changes are planned, request formal responses to our questions and substantial changes to the current plans, so that they conform more closely to LTN 1/20 standards."