Clevedon revamp a 'costly, ill thought out and pointless proposal', MP claims

The proposed changes to Clevedon's seafront. Inset: Dr Liam Fox.

The proposed changes to Clevedon's seafront. Inset: Dr Liam Fox. - Credit: North Somerset Council/PA

Dr Liam Fox MP has hit back at North Somerset Council's proposals to revamp Clevedon's seafront.

In a scathing letter sent to the council's chief executive Jo Walker, the MP for North Somerset claims the proposals are 'costly, ill thought out and pointless'.

Speaking at a protest held outside The Moon & Sixpence pub on Sunday, Dr Fox said the proposals were the 'craziest plans I've seen in my 30 years as MP'. He also said the anger was 'palpable' among residents who joined the protest at the seafront.

This comes after more than 2,500 people have signed a petition objecting to the plans.

The £500,000 scheme will introduce new cycle routes, one-way roads and a 20mph speed limit along the seafront.

Work is expected to begin at Easter this year, and will see major changes to people who travel around Clevedon. 

READ MORE: Plans for Clevedon's seafront revamp lodged.

Liam Fox

Liam Fox - Credit: Archant

Dr Fox said in the open letter: "There is little point in putting a cycle track to run along the seafront from Clevedon Sailing Club to the pier when it can go no further at that point. It seems that the main motivation is so that the council can boast that it has completed a 'pier to pier' cycleway from Weston to Clevedon.

"I wonder who the intended audience for such a message is since, as far as I am aware, I have not had a single constituent write to demand such a traffic reorganisation.

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"It appears that it is wanted by certain North Somerset Councillors rather than the public that they are supposed to represent.

"Second, I wonder if you can let me know how much has been spent on planning and consultancy so far for this project and what the final cost is estimated to be?

"I have heard the argument the money will come from central government, but a waste of money is still a waste of money no matter which pot of taxpayer’s money it comes from.

"At a time when public expenditure is tight and local government claims to be short of money, this seems like a completely unnecessary spending programme."

Dr Fox also criticised previous council improvement works which closed country lanes in Nailsea, Backwell and Yatton, saying to Jo Walker that he 'thought the council might have learned their lesson'.

He added: "As you will remember, public anger was focused on the fact that restrictions were to be imposed on a full-time basis, with huge disruption to those who live and work in North Somerset.

"The main beneficiaries were to be those who pursue leisure activities, mostly at the weekend and often from outside North Somerset - who do the council actually represent?"

Proposed cycle connections.

Proposed cycle connections. - Credit: North Somerset Council

The council says the improvement works will 'improve safety' for all users and 'eliminate rat running' in the town, adding that after a public consultation period last year, the council is 'now satisfied it has the right scheme'. 

Included in the scheme are plans to introduce additional parking where the road widens and changes to bus routes. Parklets will also be available to eateries as extra outdoor seating space for customers.

The pier entrance will be resurfaced for pedestrians too, and four new pedestrian crossings will be created.

READ MORE: Businesses raise concerns with council's £500k seafront revamp.

Dr Fox ended his letter by questioning the impact on traders in the town, particularly so after the damaging effects of the pandemic.

He said: "Has anyone thought about the impact that this will have on local traders, hospitality outlets or the tourist industry? Having lost two summers to the pandemic I think it would be an outrageous act of self-imposed damage to lose a third as a result of the council’s plans.

"I hope the council will take the opportunity to recognise the strength of public feeling against this change and act accordingly.

"I am aware that they have the authority to drive this through against the public’s wishes but would remind them that there are elections for the council in May 2023, and the public is unlikely to be in a forgiving mood if their wishes are trampled upon."