What next for the road campaign?

Glastonbury Oracle, July 2018

Town Hall 7 8 18

A ground-breaking meeting was held in Glastonbury Town Hall on Thursday June 7th. The topic was Glastonbury’s HGV traffic and the suggestion that it could be dealt with by building a bypass.

The main hall was full, standing room only, and nearly everyone there wanted the freight traffic sent by a different route – and no new bypass, particularly not around the Tor. It was the first time that this viewpoint had been so clearly expressed in a public forum.

The meeting was arranged by Green Party Town Councillors. All the parish and town councils along the route and from other places likely to be affected were represented. Organiser Lindsay MacDougall opened the meeting showing photographs of the problem and maps of possible alternative routes. Chairman Jon Cousins said afterwards:

“The main arterial route (A303/A358) is already a National Freight Route, and the only viable option. I don’t see why road haulage companies should be effectively subsidised at the expense of local residents’ well-being (and homes). No other industry gets this kind of indulgence. If Mendip’s communities can stand together, and highlight Somerset County Council’s unjust policy of putting the interests of a few businesses above those of thousands of residents, then we may indeed work a miracle. A few signs at Cannard’s Grave and at Junction 25 of the M5, and it’s job done!”

There will be a delegation going to the Somerset County Council meeting in Taunton on July 18th (beginning 10am). Members of the public are able to ask questions rather than making general comments, and the question will be: “Can SCC explain the process required to remove the County Freight Route designation from the A361 between Cannard’s Grave and Glastonbury?”

Completely absent from the Town Hall meeting was MP James Heappey. He did, however, speak at a meeting of Walton Parish Council the following evening. He said that he would not come and speak to Glastonbury until our Council has decided what it wants in the way of a bypass, and how many houses, in thousands, could be built here to help finance a road scheme.

He also made clear that Mendip District – not just Glastonbury but Street, Wells, Shepton Mallet and Frome as well – had been identified as a ‘Secondary Growth Zone’ and is ‘ripe for development’. For this reason he considers the A39/A361 to be the only sensible route to connect the district-wide scheme to the M5 motorway.

The combination of this and the Major Road Network would particularly affect Glastonbury but could completely alter the character of all five towns, in the interests of the government’s economic agenda.

Mr Heappey also said that from August onwards there would be a huge increase in traffic from Whatley Quarry via Glastonbury to Hinkley Point. EDF has failed to build its jetty in time, so that aggregate and other supplies cannot be brought by sea until next year. He even suggested mounting protests from early September, when the quarry traffic is expected to reach its peak.