Response to update letter

Council update to Easton Safer Streets proposals
16-09-2017

By now most Easton residents will have received a letter from Bristol City Council stating that they have modified the Easton Safer Streets proposals after ‘further consultation’ with the community.

The view of Easton Voice is that the council’s amended proposals do very little to address the many, many concerns that Easton’s residents have expressed to us about the plans via our online and door-to-door surveys in the area.

It’s notable that the feature of the proposals that has attracted the highest number of objections during our research – road closures – remains entirely unchanged. So, whatever further consultation the council has conducted doesn’t seem to have connected with the same parts of the community that we have. Or, if they have, then the council has chosen to continue to disregard these opinions and only listen to those that are aligned with their own agenda.

It should also be pointed out that the map detailing the proposals, printed on the back of the letter, is inaccurate in a number of important respects, not least suggesting that two roads exist that actually do not, as well as indicating one road as a dead-end that is in fact a connecting route, and one that is actually a dead-end shown as a connecting route. This doesn’t give us much confidence in the attention to detail behind these proposals.

So despite giving the appearance of having responded to the community’s concerns, upon closer examination the suggested modifications in the council’s recent letter amount to some very minor adjustments to the original proposals. We do not feel placated by this.

The council’s approach to community consultation has been questionably narrow and selective from the outset, nor have they abided by the standard practices and techniques for such consultations that have been widely established elsewhere. Normally consultation will bring a community together, not polarise it as the Safer Streets approach has. In similar situations the recommended approach is based on street by street contact, election of street reps, and negotiation between neighbours, creating compromise and cohesion.

You’ll have noticed that the letter states that there will be a ‘statutory consultation’ later in the year, at which time ‘people can formally comment on the proposals should they wish to do so’. With no firm date set we are left to watch out for a notice in the local press and notices displayed in the roads affected (even though the likely effects will extend some way beyond the specific roads that are to be closed). Easton Voice will try to ensure that we notify the entire community of this statutory consultation date once it becomes known, to give the community the best chance to formally respond to the council.

In the meantime, if you are concerned about the impact of these proposals on the area you could contact your local councillor to make them aware of your feelings. You can find out who your ward councillor is and write to them directly via this web site: https://www.writetothem.com/

Easton Voice hope to meet with local councillors ourselves in the near future, but as this situation develops it becomes apparent that the community must now use every means at its disposal to make our feelings heard about this matter.