County Traffic Chief under Pressure over Westbow Traffic Changes

west st
The road ‘improvements’ at Westbow

Changes to the junction at Westbow crossroad in order to ‚improve the situation ‘for future EDF traffic Access to Hinkley Point’ has seen an angry response from drivers and residents putting pressure on the County Council Portfolio Holder for Highways, Cllr Harvey Siggs, to do something about it.

On August 19th Westover Town and District councillor Brian Smedley brought the concerns to the attention of the Wells councillor in an email. “There is considerable discontent about the recent County Highway changes to the filter lanes around the Westgate traffic lights in Bridgwater. Some lanes have been changed from what people have been used to for many years and there is concern at the potential for accidents particularly on the /Penel Orlieu approach/ where there is a well established filter route in n area of regular heavy congestion and also from the /West street approach/ which will shortly be once again heavily used as a major school run junction. I wonder if you could clarify the rationale behind the changes to me so that when asked I can explain if indeed these are improvements.”

The mail, also copied in to Highways officer Andrew Tranter, has not even received an acknowledgement.

Directional lane changes at Penel Orlieu
Directional lane changes at Penel Orlieu

On 29th August Bridgwater Town Clerk Alan Hurford joined in the attack with a message to the councillor for Wookey Hole Deep, with a further angry statement saying  “Bridgwater Town Council will certainly be seeking an explanation and remedy. You will – I am sure – be aware that the views locally are being translated onto newspaper websites/social media and the good old fashioned ‘Joe Public’ coming in and having a go at us – and rightly so! And of course, being on the High Street, have a constant eye witness account of the traffic backup and frustration ……. and this is all before the school traffic starts to ‘move’ again.I would suggest that the previous arrangement – using the left lane for both turn into Broadway and to West Street and the right hand lane solely for the right turn into North Street had the effect of splitting the traffic because users had a choice of which route to take to get to the residential areas on the western side. Logical. Please revert to as was.”

Still no reply from the the man at the top.

Traffic competing for the correct lane at Penel Orlieu
Traffic competing for the correct lane at Penel Orlieu

Today Harvey’s fellow Tories have now turned on him as Bridgwater Wyndham councillor Gill Slocombe finally lost her patience.
“It is with deep regret that I have to tell you that I think you have got it wrong, you have left the people of Bridgwater in deep despair, they cannot believe that anyone would actually believe the changes are improvements, let me tell you they are not.I hope you will re-consider this plan and hopefully let sense prevail and revert back to the original layout before there is a major accident in our Town, because then it will be too late. I speak for so many residents who have phoned me personally who really feel let down, its not too late to make it right.”

Cllr Smedley said  “When EDF refused to build a by-pass, which was what we all asked for, they said they would ease the looming traffic chaos with adjustments to junction. This one doesn’t bode well for the future……“