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County council withdraws from the A40 bus lane scheme bid


Gloucestershire County Council has decided not to continue its bid for funding to build the A40 Gloucester Road westbound bus lane scheme at Benhall in Cheltenham.

The proposed scheme is to construct a bus lane on the A40 westbound (outbound from Cheltenham) from the Tennyson Road junction to the traffic signals at GCHQ (Telstar Rd junction).

The county council has been jointly promoting the £3.87 million scheme with its partner Stagecoach, and was due to submit the full business case to GFirst LEP's board for final funding approval later this year.

The council now believes that there are a number of concerns surrounding the viability of the scheme and so it has chosen not to take the scheme forward at this time.

One of the factors behind the council's decision is that the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) is yet to be adopted and there remains significant uncertainty regarding the future growth of development to the west of Cheltenham.

In addition, the final business case has revealed that the projected bus journey time improvements are worse than originally anticipated and do not achieve the original aims of the scheme. Whilst there are some significant journey time savings (e.g. at weekday pm peak times), the journey time savings for the weekday am peak are considerably lower than expected.

Also, the county council is already delivering a bus lane section (Telstar Way to Arle Court) along the A40 as part of the Elmbridge Transport Scheme. This is where regular queuing occurs at peak times and the council is providing the infrastructure to reduce bus journey times along this section of the route.

Although the county council will not be pursuing its promotion of the plan to build the bus lane now, it is still possible that the scheme could be picked up and taken on by its partner Stagecoach or a third party organisation, such as a developer, and submitted to GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership for funding approval in the future.

Councillor Mark Hawthorne, leader of the county council said, "I am very aware that there is significant public opposition to this scheme. The public consultation demonstrated that 66% of respondents strongly disagreed with the proposed bus lane along this section of the A40.

"This, along with the question marks around the bus journey time savings, the uncertainty around the Joint Core Strategy and the fact that we are already committed to building the Telstar Way to Arle Court bus lane has made us think long and hard about pushing ahead with our funding bid at this time."

"When significant amounts of public money are at stake, we have to be sure that the scheme provides good value for money and will achieve all of its aims."

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