Cheltenham's MP, Alex Chalk, has hailed today's decision to scrap the controversial plans for a new bus lane along the A40 in Benhall. The announcement follows a long running campaign by local residents, backed strongly by the town's MP, which highlighted concerns about the potential environmental damage associated with the removal of historic hedgerows along the A40, as well as the significant cost to the taxpayer.
Earlier this year Alex Chalk presented a petition signed by 6,000 local residents to the Cabinet Member for Highways at the County Council on the steps of Shire Hall. That petition triggered a formal debate on the subject of the bus lane at a full meeting of the County Council. Following that meeting Cheltenham's man in Westminster met with the Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership, who would have been ultimately responsible for approving the plans had they reached the final stage in the process, to reiterate his opposition to the plans. He also sought written clarification from the LEP about the approval process that needed to be followed and he wrote to local residents in the affected area passing this information on.
Speaking following the news, Mr Chalk said ''I'm absolutely delighted that common sense has prevailed and these plans have been scrapped. It is thanks to the tireless campaigning of local residents that this issue has remained firmly on the radar of the County Council and the LEP. I have always believed that the potential for environmental damage from this scheme was too great and that the proposed cost to the public purse was highly disproportionate when compared to the relatively modest reductions in bus journey times.''