It’s time to re­lease data from sur­vey

Gloucestershire Echo - - LETTERS & OPINION - Alex Chalk Con­ser­va­tive MP for Chel­tenham

AT the end of this year, a de­ci­sion will be made on the long-run­ning Boots Cor­ner trial. Coun­cil­lors will de­cide whether it should be made per­ma­nent or scrapped.

My views on this are well known. I think this flawed trial has al­ready gone on too long, and has caused too much harm. It has gob­bled up more than £1.4m of lo­cal tax­pay­ers’ money, in­clud­ing around £20,000 on astro­turf and bike racks. And mo­torists have been clob­bered with 48,000 tick­ets, to­talling more than £1.3m in fines in just nine months. So many peo­ple have writ­ten to me say­ing they’ve been put off vis­it­ing Chel­tenham.

There’s never been any cred­i­ble ar­gu­ment to jus­tify the mas­sive cost and dis­rup­tion. The air pol­lu­tion ar­gu­ment was al­ways bo­gus, as Boots Cor­ner is not listed as one of Chel­tenham’s four sites which breach ni­tro­gen diox­ide lim­its. And no air mon­i­tor­ing ma­chine was ever in­stalled there any­way, so we’ll never know the be­fore and af­ter data.

It lit­er­ally is the so­lu­tion to a prob­lem that doesn’t ex­ist.

Mean­while the scheme is push­ing traf­fic, and there­fore air pol­lu­tion, into neigh­bour­ing res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hoods.

But what about the im­pact of all this on lo­cal busi­nesses? Chel­tenham’s Busi­ness Im­prove­ment District, which is do­ing good work to pro­mote our town, has sur­veyed hun­dreds of lo­cal busi­nesses for their views with de­tailed ques­tions about the ef­fect it has had on every­thing from foot­fall to turnover. But so far, de­spite re­quests, those re­sults are not be­ing made pub­lic.

That’s not right. Lo­cal tax­pay­ers have the right to know what the im­pact of this scheme has been on busi­nesses.

They should be given the in­for­ma­tion they need to al­low them to reach a fair as­sess­ment of whether their money has been well spent.

That’s par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant when the coun­cil is propos­ing to plough yet more pub­lic money into the scheme.

Sun­light is the best dis­in­fec­tant. The sur­vey data should be re­leased.

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