A CAMPAIGNER whose petition against the transformation of a public highway garnered nearly 1,400 signatures has branded the council scheme “dangerous” – adding public feedback has so far been ignored.

Superna Bhardwaj, of South Park, in Gerrards Cross, said a series of decorative planters installed by Buckinghamshire Council in Lower Road and South Park, without public approval, had forced traffic into residential roads and were of concern to emergency services.

She added that despite signatures from 1,398 locals and “live feedback”, adjustments promised by the council had not happened and drivers had taken to moving the blockades themselves.

Ms Bhardwaj also said residents are “appalled” by the “lack of regard” to a letter sent by Gerrards Cross Town Council to the unitary authority against the scheme.

READ MORE: Controversial plans to transform county highways creating ‘chaos’ upheld by council

The council was awarded a £514,000 grant by the Department for Transport (DfT), for a series of “temporary active travel schemes” across Buckinghamshire, to support walking and cycling.

The so-called “quietways” promote safer roads and air quality and better personal health as people return to work and leisure activities “as lockdown restrictions gradually ease”.

But two schemes in Gerrards Cross and High Wycombe were met with opposition from residents who were not consulted beforehand.

Bucks Free Press:

“It’s not in keeping with what was said – indeed it is quite the opposite,” said Ms Bhardwaj of the decorative planters in Lower Road and South Park. “They have blocked off the A413, forcing traffic to divert through the densely populated residential and town centre streets.

“Since the schools reopened last week, traffic has increased considerably in the surrounding residential roads.

“The roads around St Mary’s School and The Gerrards Cross C.E School are now experiencing increased traffic as people are forced to drive on these roads given the main road closures. It is dangerous to say the least.”

READ MORE: Petition against ‘quietway’ backed up by town council ‘legal’ dispute

She has witnessed “frustrated drivers” manually moving the planters daily, adding: “Whilst people shouldn’t be doing this this, I can understand why they are.

“I regularly see council workers coming out to put the bollards and planters back in place – again it’s a waste of money.”

Cabinet Member for Transport, Nick Naylor, said the schemes are “planned” to be in place for three months, adding the council had used its “best local knowledge to install schemes where the payback is likely to be highest”.

“There may be things we can adjust or tweak as the schemes bed-in and there might be things we can add to improve the way schemes are performing overall during the trials,” he added.

Ms Bhardwaj said: “Despite them getting live feedback from residents, there has been no tweaking whatsoever.”

“Pedestrians are walking up the middle of South Park with their baby buggies, thinking it is completely pedestrianised, when it isn’t,” she said.

“As for the emergency services, it has been well documented in the national press that both the Ambulance Service and Fire Brigade have said they are concerned the ‘quietway’ schemes will have an ‘impact on the attendance of all our emergency vehicles’.”

Ms Bhardwaj said she is “genuinely worried and terrified something awful will happen”.

Bucks Free Press:

READ MORE: ‘New one-way system in town will create chaos for locals’

“Of course, there’s pros and cons with anything like this, which is why everything being installed to create the schemes is temporary,” said Cllr Naylor.

“I fully accept residents and businesses may say a particular scheme is too inconvenient or it won’t work. However, what I would say is please give it a chance. It’s a step into the unknown for all of us, but what we do have is the opportunity to see how these schemes work for real.

“I’m asking people to play their part, see how these schemes go, enjoy walking and cycling along these routes and, yes, be accepting of a little inconvenience potentially. The most important thing is to keep the dialogue going and let us have feedback.”

“If they don’t [work] they’ll be removed, it’s as simple as that.”

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