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Has Boots Corner closure created a nightmare for visitors to Cheltenham?

Few decisions have caused more controversy in Gloucestershire than the experimental closure of Boot’s Corner in Cheltenham. chartered health and safety practitioner Phil Chambers of Strategic Safety Systems Ltd considers the issues. Many people in Cheltenham are very concerned about the closure of the inner ring road at Boots Corner. The primary questions are: • Does it bring a net improvement to the centre of Cheltenham? • Are the alternative routes adequate and well signposted? • Has the implementation method been adequate? • Is there a net encouragement or discouragement of visitors to Cheltenham and the shops and restaurants in the centre? The reduction of traffic at Boots Corner is an improvement for pedestrians. However, the lack of alternative routes has meant that other areas of the town centre have increased traffic to avoid Boots Corner, and these affect pedestrians. By far the worst is traffic coming from Rodney Road onto the shared car/ pedestrian part of the High Street next to John Lewis. As this was a flagship improvement to Cheltenham, it is alarming that Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC) failed to anticipate this. It poses a safety risk far greater than the crossing at Boots Corner. The traffic flow along the Promenade past the council offices has also increased. In trying to improve the centre, closing the Promenade would have been far better than Boots Corner, but you cannot do both. So, we have an improvement at one point, but a deterioration at other points.

Phil Chambers of Strategic Safety Systems Ltd

Air quality was never measured at Boots Corner and therefore

there is no data to state that it has improved, nor was air quality measured at Rodney Road/ An angry protest over the closure of Boots Corner High Street. However, there are areas where air quality has been measured and was already a concern, such as Gloucester Road. It is reasonable to anticipate that this has deteriorated because of its increased traffic flow. Because of a lack of knowledge of where traffic was going after it passed through Boots Corner, CBC took the approach of letting people find their own way rather than signposting alternative routes. The result of this has been major queues on several routes that people are forced to choose, such as Rodney Road, St George’s Street, St Pauls and other residential areas. It is misleading to state that “there have always been queues on St George’s Street”. The queues used to be a few cars; now they can stretch back beyond the bowling green. Other routes further out such as College Road

6 | December 2018 | www. punchline-gloucester .com

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