MPs meet with Transport Secretary to share concerns over J18A Eastern proposals

South Gloucestershire MPs including local MP Luke Hall met with the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP this week to jointly press and relay residents’ concerns over the eastern options which Highways England and South Gloucestershire Council are considering as part of plans to see a new junction 18A built onto the M4.

A new junction on the M4 is hoped to provide relief to existing and future congestion on the Avon Ring Road, and discourage heavy goods traffic from using routes through the eastern villages, as they make their way from the A46 to access eastern Bristol.

The new junction was firmly placed back on the agenda by local Conservatives in 2010 after the original plans pursued over two decades ago were dropped by the then unpopular Avon County Council, who it was believed focused too much investment on Bristol issues rather than the greater region.

Since the campaign’s launch, which argues for a junction placed in the Emersons Green area, it has attracted the support of:

· Luke Hall MP, and two other South Gloucestershire MPs who have campaigned for greater investment in the county’s infrastructure

· South Gloucestershire Councillors from across the political spectrum, including the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour groups.

· 1000s of residents who signed a petition for the £500,000 funding for the study, started by Luke Hall MP and the Yate Gazette.

· 100s of South Gloucestershire businesses who signed a letter calling for the new junction.

· West of England Mayor Tim Bowles

After a huge campaign and show of support from across South Gloucestershire, and a report conducted by economist at the University of Bath showing the likely benefits of the infrastructure, an initial grant of £500,000 was provided by the Department for Transport to conduct a feasibility study which has recently revealed three preliminary options.

The announcement of two options close to Pucklechurch caused shock amongst campaigners and residents resulting in a protest in the village which drew hundreds of residents. Luke Hall MP backed residents when he addressed the protest stating clearly he would continue to press hard for the originally presumed Emersons Green (Western) option, but that he would withdraw his support for and campaign against the scheme if the eastern options were pursued by Highways England.

Local MPs have reassured residents of their support, and pledged to take the issue to the highest levels of Government to share their joint concerns, having already met again with the Transport Secretary to make this point clear.

The Transport Secretary acknowledged the concerns brought to him by Luke Hall MP and said he would look closely at the proposals as they emerge following the consultation.

Luke Hall MP said; “I’d like to thank residents, Pucklechurch Parish Councillors, and Councillor Steve Reade for working with me to oppose the eastern options which I have relayed to the Transport Secretary last week. This much needed piece of infrastructure was always campaigned for on the basis that it would be placed logically in Emersons Green. I will continue working to see that the decision makers are in no doubt as to our objections to the eastern options and that the western option should be the only way forward to help relieve congestion on the ring road and reduce HGV traffic through our eastern villages.”

In response to the South Gloucestershire Green Parties calls to yet again delay and junk further progress on road infrastructure, Cllr Steve Reade said:

I am deeply concerned by the emerging eastern options and the impact it will have in Pucklechurch and beyond, but the need for new infrastructure to relieve traffic congestion is absolutely clear. It is disappointing that the Green Party, without even mentioning the correct figures and details of the project, are going back to their default position which is simply; ‘let’s do nothing about improving our roads’.

If the Greens were really in touch with the region’s plans they would welcome the existing investment going into public transport schemes such as Metrobus, the Yate to Bristol cycle link and new Park and Rides that are being introduced alongside the Junction 18A scheme”.