Wiltshire Publications

‘Keep your traffic, Bath’

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Councillors prepare to battle over diverted traffic.

WESTBURY Town Council is up in arms over Bath council’s decision to put a weight restriction on the A36 Cleveland Bridge which, as a consequence,  will divert heavy duty traffic through Westbury.

As of Monday 3rd February, Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) will enforce an 18-tonne weight limit restriction on the bridge due to it being under threat structurally.

As a result, the shift of heavy duty vehicles,  heading south from the M4,  will use the A350 that passes through Westbury despite the road already having significant traffic issues.

To add to the anger in Westbury, BANES have yet to secure the funding for the repair works on the bridge and therefore have not set a date for the work to begin. 

The weight restriction was discussed at the recent Westbury Town Council highways, planning and development meeting where councillors expressed their suspicion that these planned works were just an excuse to shift the heavy traffic elsewhere, away from Bath permanently, and no work will be done. 

During the meeting, the town council agreed to fight the proposed restrictions, saying it’s not too late. They are also encouraging all other councils that lie on the A350 to join them and ‘vigorously oppose’ the plans. 

With the same fears, Heywood Parish Council has also joined Westbury Town Council and has asked for a review of the proposals saying that the A350 cannot cope with more traffic. 

Westbury councillors have agreed to write to Wiltshire Council, to challenge their input in this decision. The council is also writing to BANES, to ask that they declare a time in which these works will take place. Further contact will be made to  the Secretary of State and the MP for South West Wiltshire, Andrew Murrison, in a bid to rally their support. 

In a letter to White Horse News, cllr Ian Cunningham said, “It has long been an (understandable) aim of Bath to prevent traffic using the A36/A46 direct corridor over the Cleveland Bridge in Bath. There have been a number of schemes proposed, some of doubtful validity such as a permanent lorry ban or the recent attempt to add the bridge to the proposed clean air zone.

“The argument that has now been proposed is that the bridge is under threat structurally as components are ‘life expired’ and that it has to be closed to lorries over 18t ‘temporarily’ until maintenance, repair of replacement can be arranged. 

“Previous attempts to close the bridge to 18t+ lorries were blocked by the Highways Agency as illegal because the road is a major strategic highway. Clearly a temporary closure is allowed – even though there appears to be no information as to a date or plan to carry out these repairs – at least in the press release. I suspect that Bath & North East Somerset Council (BANES) are not particularly anxious to provide a “solution” – but that is only my guess.

“Leaving aside concerns about the additional mileage added to journeys, the obvious result is that now every heavy lorry that would have travelled on the shorter A36/A46 route through Bath, to and from Bristol and M4/M5 etc., will now pass through Westbury.

“Of course, the people of Westbury were not consulted about this and we already have our significant issues with heavy vehicles passing through our town centre, which we regularly highlight to our local highway authority, Wiltshire Council.

“To add insult to injury, Bath and North East Somerset Council has published a map which misses off Westbury altogether (despite showing bypassed Warminster which is almost the same size); I can only speculate as to why they have chosen not to show that their preferred route takes lorries straight through the centre of one of Wiltshire’s largest settlements.”

Cllr Bridget Wayman, cabinet member for highways at Wiltshire Council said, “We have been made aware by BANES of these essential works.

 “We understand the concerns of local residents who are worried about the impact this will have on traffic locally and we are awaiting information from BANES on the numbers of vehicles which are likely to be diverted onto A350 while a weight limit is imposed on Cleveland Bridge.”

B&NES have been approached for comment

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