News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Road Closure Engenders Neighbour Power

At last it's happening!

I refer of course to the long-awaited closure of Westbury Hill due to road works. The event, announced for weeks by the yellow signs strategically positioned on lampposts, has caused a frisson of excitement among residents and visitors alike.

It was with some bemusement on Monday that as the work got underway I watched the ensuing chaos in neighbouring roads. Afforded a prime view of the proceedings from my desk, I was particularly amused by the antics of several residents of Cambridge Crescent. In the spirit of "defend our street", these Westbury worthies appeared decidedly unhappy with the increased traffic through "their" road (as motorists unwittingly stumbled upon the road closure signs at the bottom of Westbury Hill) and took it upon themselves to set up barriers at the top end of Cambridge Crescent at its junction with Westbury Hill.

In the rare moments of quiet that followed, neighbours, particularly from one household, appeared to enjoy the feeling of wandering into the middle of the road in evident pleasure at the effect of their actions, nodding knowingly at "them" who, by not residing on their road, had been put in their place, thank you very much, and forced to turn their cars round in search of alternative cut-throughs.

The calm was short lived, however. A number of road users, both resident and others who had parked there during the day, appeared to take a different view of the unilateral decision by two households to effect a road closure of questionable legality. Several moved the signs and cones before driving off, one or two being accosted by the by-now emboldened Defenders of the Crescent. Others tried to drive around them; one unfortunate driver of a red hatchback decided to drive through the sign, scratching the car's bodywork in the process. A teenager, often seen in the village during school hours, greeted this development with a cheer and ran to inform his household of the exciting development.

A call to Bristol City Council revealed that there had been "several" calls to the Council about the confusion in Westbury and that an "officer" would be attending on Tuesday morning to investigate. On the back of this, it is noted that the ambiguous signs announcing that Cambridge Crescent was "for residents only" had been replaced by less ambiguous signage, announcing that the road was now "closed."

So, the issue is settled. People power (of sorts) has prevailed, and residents of Cambridge Crescent can now rest in peace, safe in the knowledge that the traffic that previously cluttered the heart of Westbury village will now be discharging its noxious fumes in other streets in the neighbourhood and not their own - a fact that will be of limited comfort to those living in Southfield Road and Stoke Lane.

For those whose social lives are a little under-developed at present, there is a mildly entertaining clickable map on the Council's web site providing up-to-the-minute information on the numerous road works happening in Bristol at any one time. Fascinating stuff for anoraks everywhere.

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