Row over Thornbury High Street's pedestrianisation sees mayor threaten to withhold funding

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The West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris has said he will withhold funding for Thornbury High Street if the public are not given a greater say in pedestrianisation plans.

The controversial scheme in Thornbury High Street was introduced by South Gloucestershire Council as part of Covid safety measures but has stayed - and residents and traders say it has become a ghost town.

West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: "I'm not going to give millions of pounds to this project until I am absolutely certain the community has had their chance to be properly involved and properly buy into the project and support it.

"I want them to have their chance to put in ideas to make it a better project.

"It isn't that the council has all the answers, actually, the public have probably got some really good ideas too."

Some residents told ITV News they would prefer a one-way system rather than a fully-pedestrianised high street.

So far the scheme has so far cost £400,000 and South Gloucestershire Council needs another £3.7m from the West of England Combined Authority to make it permanent.

Many residents in the area are in favour of a change, but say they do not want to keep the high street as it is now.

One resident said: "Although I'm happy about it, if the high street dies because of a lack of people coming, then it defeats the purpose."

Another said: "I think what they should have done was to have made it one-way - that would have given the council an idea of what was going to happen. But to suddenly close it, I think is wrong."

What has the council said?

South Gloucestershire Council has said that while the initial scheme was introduced very quickly, at all stages since it has "developed plans to help the area adapt and thrive for the future'.

A spokesperson added: "We have consulted and engaged with local residents, businesses and others and results of that six-month consultation which has just closed are due in at the end of this month."

They added the council is "aware" of Mr Norris' comments but added: "We have not received any formal communication from the Mayor’s office about any possible change of direction or additional caveats that he might seek to attach to future funding bids.”