Putting the boot in Campaigners hit out at road change with noisy protest
FUNK music resounded, chants rang out and protesters blocked a bus at a demonstration against the Boots Corner scheme.
More than 100 people descended on the Promenade in Cheltenham at noon to campaign against the route’s closure to general through traffic.
It was organised by 37 Cheltenham Deliveroo drivers who say they have struggled to navigate the area since the project started.
The protest’s leader Rob Chandler, 30, played loud music from a speaker next to Cheltenham Borough Council’s Municipal Offices.
He led a march to Boots Corner where campaigners formed a barrier in the middle of Clarence Street at around 12.45pm to stop a Stagecoach bus passing through.
The bus was stationary for about a minute,until the protest’s police liaison officer ordered the demonstrators to let it through.
Cheltenham’s Conservative MP Alex Chalk gave a speech at the start of the protest, asking: “What is the point of [the closure]?”
He added: “All the justifications that came forward crumbled under the slightest bit of cross-examination.”
James Wellings, assistant manager at Clarence Street hair salon Chameleons, said the protest was “a brilliant idea”.
He added: “I’m really happy with the turnout. It’s making more and more people aware.
“The closure is very detrimental to the town, the elderly and small businesses. We will lose what makes Cheltenham Cheltenham.”
By 1.30pm the crowd had dwindled to around a dozen people, but Mr Chandler’s music continued to blare next to his colourful delivery vehicle, the ‘Vibevan.’
In October, Cheltenham Borough Council told residents it saw “record numbers” of cyclists and pedestrians travel through the route once the scheme began earlier this year.
Councillor Andrew Mckinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, says: “We welcome people’s views on the scheme. We’d like to remind people that this is a trial which will be reviewed following formal procedures.
“The scheme - which aims to put people before traffic - is going very well with people now moving freely across a road that was dominated by vehicles. Initial figures have seen an 84 per cent increase in pedestrian footfall and a 206% increase in bicycle usage and people are clearly enjoying the space around Boots Corner.
“As part of the trial, traffic is being monitored and traffic light changes have been made in response to public comments.
“We want people to share their views at goucestershire.gov.uk/ctp.”
The protest in the Promenade against Boots Corner