When the bridge was closed to traffic in August 2020 under an experimental traffic order, local people felt the bridge was safe for non-drivers and protected Poole Park from the hundreds of cars an hour that passed through the bridge into Poole Park near the boating lake. The majority of residents asked for it to remain closed, yet in March 2021, the bridge was reopened to traffic.
The closure had formed part of a low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) scheme, which according to a government directive should be in place long enough for their benefits and disbenefits to be properly evaluated and understood. Chris Heaton-Harris, transport minister, has warned that if LTNs are not given a chance to work, or are removed without evidence they are failing, councils could lose future central government funding.
Keyhole Bridge Group are bringing the judicial review that could result in the council’s decision to reopen Keyhole Bridge being overturned and the bridge being closed to traffic. However, the community group now claims that members of Poole Conservative party were amongst the first to join a new Facebook group set up to oppose the judicial review.
A spokesperson for Keyhole Bridge Group said: “The guidance from central government is very clear and had it been in place earlier Keyhole Bridge would not have been reopened so swiftly and without up-to-date supporting evidence. Traffic congestion is an ever increasing problem, and these schemes are part of the solution. They are here to stay, and councils must give them time to bed in and be properly assessed. It’s disappointing that our local Conservative association is so out of step with its own leaders and the rest of the country that it doesn’t appreciate this and is trying to stand in the way of change.”
Keyhole Bridge Group’s judicial review has already received the court’s permission to proceed, confirming they have sufficient grounds for challenging the decision and they hope the case will be heard by the end of the year. They are represented by Richard Buxton Solicitors and Piers Riley-Smith of Kings Chambers and have received support from the Environmental Law Foundation and Warrior Agency, a local PR company.
There is a crowdfunding campaign via CrowdJustice to raise funds for the judicial review process. More information and details of how to support Keyhole Bridge Group can be found on the crowdfunding page here: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/keyhole-bridge/
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