By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter / email@example.com
A transport campaign group is calling on the government to refuse Bristol City Council £28 million of funding for the South Bristol Link.
The council submitted its final funding bid for three major transport schemes on Friday, including the £50 million Ashton Vale-to-
Temple Meads rapid transit route; the £102 million north fringe-to-Hengrove package and the £45 million south Bristol link.
The Department for Transport is due to make a decision on whether it will put money towards any of the schemes in December.
If the South Bristol Link bid is approved, the government would pay £28 million, with the rest coming from Bristol city and North Somerset councils.
But Transport for Greater Bristol Alliance is so opposed to the project it has launched a campaign against the funding bid.
The alliance, which represents a number of transport and environmental groups, is calling on Under-Secretary of State for Transport Norman Baker not to give the local authorities a single penny.
The group has produced postcards that residents can complete and send to the minister by October 7. They can be obtained from the group’s website at http://www.tfgb.org.uk.
The postcards feature a number of idyllic images of Bristol’s countryside, including Hanging Hill Wood and Colliter’s Brook, with the slogan “Welcome to Bristol’s beautiful Greenbelt”.
Alliance spokeswoman Pip Sheard said: “In 2006, Bristol and North Somerset Councils decided they wanted a road through South Bristol.
“At no point were local residents offered a rail or tram alternative integrated with a better bus network which would have been more popular with the public.
“We are urging residents to object to the Link because the road will have so many adverse environmental impacts for local people.
“It destroys agricultural land, cuts local footpaths, hedges and brooks, will be a prominent and noisy scar on the landscape and runs close to homes. It opens up the city’s greenbelt to further development and takes land from Highridge Common.
“Bristol and North Somerset councils make claims for the South Bristol Link –it will reduce congestion, create jobs and be part of a fantastic Bus Rapid Transit network.
“None of this is supported by the evidence in their business case nor the proposed scheme on the ground.
“We have better ideas about how to spend the £8 million Bristol City Council contribution such as putting it towards the cost of a fully integrated, off-board ticketing and Smartcard system to speed up local buses, a new Ashton Gate station, the setting up an Integrated Transport Authority or a bus/rail interchange at Temple Meads.”
Along with the other two rapid transit routes, the council hopes the South Bristol Link will connect the south and the north of the city to the centre.
The route would go from Hengrove Park west through Highridge and then north to Ashton Vale, connecting it to the Ashton Vale to Temple Meads route.
The authority believes this will make it easier for people to get into the centre, creating new jobs for the south and helping with its regeneration.
A number of south Bristol businesses have also backed the bid for the same reasons.
Cabinet member for transport Tim Kent said: “I am aware that there is a campaign group opposing the South Bristol Link corridor.
“We do though have very strong business support for this proposal, many local residents groups have backed the proposal and we even have support from some environmental groups.
“The truth is this corridor will help tackle the terrible congestion in that part of Bristol, freeing up traffic and cutting CO2 emissions – by as much as 500 tonnes of CO2 every year.
“The cost to benefit ratio for this scheme – the government measure for value – is at over nine to one – off the scale for transport projects.”