With the town of Bridgwater on the brink of traffic chaos due to a chain of works designed to ‘help’ the proposed Hinkley Point development, starting this coming week with the crucial Taunton road/Broadway crossroads, the Labour controlled Bridgwater Town Council has reacted angrily to statements from the EDF spokesman suggesting that the outcome will result in very little benefit after a years gridlock.
Councillor Leigh Redman (Labour,Dunwear) proposed a motion calling for an immediate pause on the so-called ‘junction improvements‘ and repeated the ruling Labour Groups call for a By-Pass before it was too late. He was seconded by Cllr Graham Granter (Labour,Fairfax)
The motion as put reads “Bridgwater Town Council notes the planned road works associated with the Hinkley Point C power station development and the proposed modifications to a number of major road junctions in Bridgwater. Evidence shows that Bridgwater is approaching gridlock, adding in 2-3 years of major disruption while junctions are modified for minimal benefit cannot be accepted, throughout the negotiations and inspector sessions the Town Council’s position was to press for a major bypass for the north of our town, taking traffic around Bridgwater.“
‘Negative impact , minimal benefit’
Cllr Redman said “The recently published detail for EDFe’s junction modifications has made a number of points clear, although supported in the development consent order the duration, negative impact and minimal benefit the works will provide was not apparent. With a proposed barrage now a realistic possibility the bypass is a more viable option that needs considering.“
The Town Council voted unanimously to support the motion (although the 2 surviving Tories weren‘t present). The outcome is that Bridgwater Town council is now calling on EDFe & SCC to pause the current program of HPC road works (including junction modifications) and carryout an urgent review which would “..seek to consider plans that can include recent developments and provide Bridgwater with a Bypass that will allow construction supplies better access, reduce an increasing negative impact on Bridgwater and leave a legacy that will truly benefit the town and our community for many years.“
Speaking for the people of Bridgwater
Town Clerk Alan Hurford, who will now convey these views to EDF and SCC, said “Bridgwater Town Council is on record from Day One calling for a By-Pass but it’s been like bashing our heads against a brick wall“
Cllr Graham Granter (Labour,Fairfax) said “We speak for the people of Bridgwater and this is top of our agenda. It seems to be no problem when they want to put a by-pass around Cannington but for Bridgwater all EDF offer is tinkering with junctions and chaos for the people who live and work here.”
Cllr Ian Tucker (Labour,Dunwear) said “County Highways are making a massive cock-up – not just this Taunton road one but West street and now Durleigh road will be one way traffic, there is just no joined up thinking”
Westover ward councillors recently warned about the looming chaos with the Taunton road/Broadway works. Cllr Brian Smedley commented “A By-Pass , as we have campaigned for all along, would have prevented this, but as usual Bridgwater’s fate is in the hands of people who don’t live in the town. We need to focus on this current crisis before it’s too late. There is a proposal for night-time work at the moment to allow freeflow during the days but this will seriously affect local residents-and probably for a lengthy period and probably with no discernible benefit at the end of it all. However, we would like to hear comments from people now before a meeting that we’ve called on the 22nd January where we have actually managed to get EDF, and SCC in one room to talk through solutions”
UPDATE;- Sedgemoor response
Following the intervention by the Town Council today, Sedgemoor District Council issued the following statement.
Sedgemoor District Council as the planning authority received a request to vary the hours of working at the Taunton Road/Broadway roadworks for 3 – 5 nights, starting next Monday night (19th January) and have imposed the following conditions
• Noise monitoring equipment being installed and the results provided to the Major Projects Office and the Environmental Health Officer on a daily basis.
• Urgent community engagement / a letter drop to local residents who will be affected takes place prior to the works commencing.
• All lanes of the highway are opened up to traffic during the day where possible.
• Large electronic signs (VMS) are used to effectively communicate with the community and businesses.
• EDFE should make clear in the letter to local residents and businesses both the enquiry / complaints line as well as the 24/7 number should problems arise.
• If significant complaints are received, the Local Planning Authority reserves the right to withdraw permission for night time working.
Any complaints should be forwarded to the EDF Freephone number 0800 0969650
Please contact Becky Miller on 5368 if you have any questions.