A CITY councillor has criticised the cost of the People Friendly Salisbury scheme, saying it “beggars belief”.

Documents from Wiltshire Council show the project will cost £2,349,960 in total, which “comprises the complementary measures as well as the measures associated with the Experimental Traffic Road Order (ETRO)”.

Liz Sirman, city councillor for St Edmund and Milford Ward, said: “At a time when the country is struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic, it beggars belief that Wiltshire Council is about to spend an enormous sum of money on an anti-car scheme that the people of Salisbury did not ask for and do not want.

“Salisbury City Council has never even taken a vote on it.”

Cllr Sirman added: “Instead of wasting money on this white elephant, many of my fellow city councillors and I would urge those in County Hall in Trowbridge to think again. Given the challenges we all face, this money would be much better spent on more important priorities.”

Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) is contributing £1.3m towards the scheme, with the rest being contributed by Wiltshire Council and potentially the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF).

A bid for this funding was submitted by Wiltshire Council on August 7.

The SWLEP-funded enhancements are subject to final tenders, so there may be some small changes to this figure.

The cost of the scheme is broken down into two phases, plus “complimentary measures”.

Salisbury Journal: Salisbury Journal:

Phase one of the ETRO, which will start on October 21, will see physical measures such as the bus gates and enforcement implemented. This will cost a total of £561,565, which will come from SWLEP and the DfT.

Phase two, which is scheduled for Spring/Summer 2021 to early 2022, will cost £229,460.

The complimentary measures account for the remaining £1,558,935, which include making gateways permanent, publicly accessible cycle pumps, an eCycle hire scheme, and a refurbishment of Culver Street car park.

The business case adds that should the funding from other sources not be successful, it will not affect the success of People Friendly Salisbury, and that “any funding shortfall will be managed robustly”.

There has also been some confusion over the scheme - taxis, buses and bicycles do not need a permit, and Blue Badge holders do need a permit, as do residents and businesses in the Low Traffic Zone. The council say free permits are being added to the system and will be available soon.

Andy Rhind-Tutt, President of the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce, who has previously expressed concerns over the scheme, says businesses and independent retailers “will need all the help they can get”.

He said: “I have not seen a cost benefit analysis for this scheme and therefore cannot comment on the expected return a huge outlay of £2m has been approved for.

“But I do remain concerned for our community, local businesses and independent retailers who need all the help they can get to encourage shoppers and visitors to get in and out of Salisbury safely.

“Blocking the A36 will inevitably drive people away from the city to other locations and close further businesses if the wider transport issue is not resolved as well. I am sure Wiltshire Council will be watching carefully the impact this scheme has and I and many councillors will be breathing down theirs and the neck of Highways England to sort it out if we don’t get this right.”

For more information, go to wiltshire.gov.uk/salisbury-people-friendly-streets.