A few days ago the EDF/SCC works on the Taunton Road/Broadway junction, after bringing months of traffic chaos to the town, were finished and the roads open and things back to normal. Or were they? Traffic is flowing nicely on 3 of the 4 roads but what‘s this? St Mary street still closed? Even though the road is finished and the works compound gone? Surely not! We asked local traders what was going on.
Lee Passmore of Biddiscombes said “Yesterday I had a visit from EDF ‘Communications Manager‘ Ross Edwards, who informed me that the reason why the bottom of St.Mary’s Street was still closed to traffic (despite all the construction work being completed) was entirely due to the fact that the new traffic light sequencing was not yet “on stream”. A decision had been made by SCC and EDF to leave the lane closed as this would cause “less disruption” to the junction. Never mind the through route from the town centre remaining closed for more weeks.“
Mr Passmore didn’t seem too impressed “Once again, it’s SCC showing us where their priorities lie – not with Bridgwater businesses, that’s for sure! I expressed my concerns to Mr. Edwards, that the road should be opened forthwith, as the “old” system for the traffic lights is still in place. Today, I learnt (from a reliable source), that the ONLY reason for a delay in opening the junction, was for EDF (and presumably SCC) to organise an “opening ceremony”/photo opportunity, to showcase the results of their collaborative efforts,( presumably subtitled “How to Railroad a Small Town”.) If this is true, everyone needs to know, to understand in what regard we are held, as townsfolk and business owners. Put simply, we don’t count! Councillors, have you had your invites to the party?“
Mayor ‘a bit miffed’
Cllr Leigh Redman, County Councillor for Bridgwater South and Mayor of Bridgwater hadn’t had any such invite and was extremely angry with the delay in opening. Throughout the whole process Leigh had diligently kept pressure on EDF and SCC to deliver on their timetables and at the same time had kept residents informed of every twist, turn, delay, and work schedule of the whole process. Leigh said “ I’m sure people are angry as it is alleged that EDFe have only kept the road closed, further depriving local shop keepers of revenue, just because they could not speed up the final commissioning, the road has been closed for more than week, EDFe must be able to speed the process! They say they care but do nothing! I am calling on EDFe to do everything in their power to open up the road and help our traders.”
Town Clerk “not happy with progress”
Town Clerk Alan Hurford hadn’t had any invite. He immediately wrote to SCC & EDF saying “CAN somebody please explain after all the effort to get finished early as possible and all roads open including the key St Mary Street/ Taunton Road south lane WHY still shut off ?? No wonder residents and traders are mad and going madder.I trust there is absolutely NO truth in the rumour mill suggesting being held back for a grand opening ceremony.If it is solely because lights set up not complete – remember all worked OK before work began.”
Ward Councillor “Going a bit mental”
Cllr Brian Smedley, ward councillor and Leader of Bridgwater Town Council had heard nothing of any invite. Brian immediately visited the site and confirmed the road could be opened by a simple physical removal of the remaining pointless plastic barriers and that the traffic lights were working underneath some easy to remove temporary canopies and immediately contacted EDF offering to remove them along with the barriers.
EDF “We’re not quite finished actually”
So we asked EDF. Spokesman Ross Edwards replied. “We remain well ahead of schedule for completing the works and are confident it will be complete soon.We have to commission the ‘intelligent’ lights, with SCC present, they’re working hard to get the right person onto site to do this as soon as possible. I will update you all and residents/businesses when it’s been commissioned successfully, this is when the diversion will be removed.”
‘Get it finished then!’
This didn’t seem the best outcome for the hard pressed traders so the ward councillors wrote back “As you are ahead of schedule, why not OPEN THE ROAD. That’s what the traders have been demanding for several months.When you’ve finished-open the road.You are ahead of your original schedule but you’re marginally behind your updated schedule which you talked to town council about last month with the promise of things being sped up due to night working. One of the key problems we’ve had throughout has been the ill-placed compound on St Mary Street. Right now there is simply the outline of where it was, some pointless plastic barriers marking where it has been and some traffic lights, which are working fine, but have hoods on them. Why don’t you just uncover them, move the barriers and liberate the traders from their months of suffering!? Please can you tell me if there is any truth in the story that you are either planning a grand opening ceremony, if so what the date for that is and if so, why you can’t open the road NOW and then close it for 5 minutes to have your ceremony in future”
Like the road, the correspondence was getting nowhere. Ross Edwards replied “The rumour is false.
When the ‘intelligent’ lights are successfully commissioned we’ll remove the diversion, we’re not finished yet.”
So we’re not finished yet…..but…we are…..aren’t we??