Regional transport chiefs endorse rapid transit scheme

Scheme extended to Cribbs Causeway after public consultation

Regional transport chiefs have approved the North Fringe to Hengrove rapid transit scheme and its extension to the Cribbs Causeway shopping centre in South Gloucestershire.

At a West of England transport meeting earlier today (Thursday 4th February), it was confirmed that – following a consultation exercise – the rapid transit scheme will now be able to include the Cribbs extension in a way that avoids a repeat of the Liberal Democrat ‘supertram’ fiasco less than 6 years ago.

The Bristol ‘supertram’ project fell apart in 2004 due to Liberal Democrat transport chiefs at both Bristol City and South Gloucestershire councils falling out over the Cribbs link – leading to the collapse of the scheme and leaving South Gloucestershire council tax payers with a whopping £800k bill.

It is also hoped that the rapid transit plans will include the purchase of land south of Hunts Ground Road near to Parkway station in order to provide a larger park and ride facility.

It has been revealed that this is land that the previous Liberal Democrat-controlled transport dept could have acquired for a £1, but the opportunity was passed up.

Cllr Brian Allinson, South Gloucestershire Council’s Conservative transport chief, said:

“Many residents told us through our consultation that they would be more likely to use the proposed service if it ran to Cribbs Causeway and so we went away, looked at the potential benefits and costs and decided that it was do-able.

But it wasn’t just enough for the extension to be a good idea on paper. We have also needed to make sure that its inclusion would not spark a repeat of the costly Liberal Democrat tram fiasco where the dispute over whether the tram would go to Cribbs led to the project’s costly collapse.

The Liberal Democrats’ admitted that the 2004 failed tram project landed South Gloucestershire council tax payers with a whopping £800k bill and I am determined to do my level best to avoid any repeat of history as we move forward.

As well as putting right the tram mistake, the current design of this rapid transit scheme, which is still being tested, includes the purchase of the land south of Hunts Ground Road at Parkway station to make a bigger park and ride.

This is the land that I am advised the Liberal Democrats could have acquired for £1 from the developer a few years ago, but passed up the opportunity.”

The transport scheme will now be signed off by South Gloucestershire Council’s Conservative Cabinet on 1st March before being submitted to the Government’s Department for Transport (DfT).

But Cllr Allinson has warned:

“We are now in a much tighter public spending climate with respected economists highlighting the government’s own figures which show that transport investment will be one of the hardest hit in the future.

Against an incredibly tough public spending backdrop, we will continue to work flat out to deliver the sort of transport improvements that really should have happened during the years of plenty.”

Source: Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council

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