Agenda item

Q&A Session

Those in attendance will have the opportunity to partake in a Q&A session coordinated by the Area Board Chairman.


A question-and-answer session took place coordinated by the Area Board Chairman.


Question – Cllr Matt Dean: Westbury suffers from poor air quality and there have been ongoing issues for 30 years with debates about bypasses. Now that investment from Wiltshire Council in the north of the county should be finishing following the completion of developments, it is thought that it is now time to start thinking about a bypass in Westbury following the Department of Transport route study from Southampton to Bristol.


Answer: Regarding the M4 to South Coast Study, Wiltshire along with neighbouring authorities wanted to press the Secretary of State to have a study to explain and address the poor connectivity between the M4 and south coast. The study has been successfully mandated with only two of such studies in the whole of the country. The study has been undertaken through the last year by National Highways, who have agreed that there are issues with this route. Currently the study has been submitted to the transport minister responsible for roads, and the Council wants to make sure that every stage of the process proceeds and moves to the next stage. The next stage would be for something real to be proposed, with consideration of bypasses for Melksham and Westbury to make improvements to the A350 corridor. It is hoped that there will be an announcement from the Department of Transport early next year regarding the next funding period of 2025 and Wiltshire is working alongside neighbouring authorities to make sure that voice isn’t lost, and the minister is encouraged.


Question – Cllr Matt Dean:  There is an ongoing problem with congestion in Westbury because of the Cleveland Bridge closure and no traffic zone in bath, which has had a negative impact on the town. It seems after making vital public interventions, Westbury is no closer to improving hotspots of congestion.


Answer: Linking back to the M4 to South Coast study, if this work was to prevail, this would mean that those in Bath would be able to do things more easily to protect the city and not at the expense of Wiltshire. Work is being conducted at an officer and political level to do all that can be done regarding the clean air zone and the bridge weight restriction with hard work conducted to try and change things which produce detriment to communities in Wiltshire.


Question - Cllr Matt Dean: A lot of residents of the Oldfield Park former Council estate have exercised the right to buy their properties and there is a lot of land in that area under the ownership of Selwood Housing, which used to be Highways land. The estate currently has more cars than it was designed for and is in desperate need of more parking spaces. How might more carparking spaces be created?


Answer: It is unusual for the Highways Authority to invest in parking for private parking and normally, attempts are made to put things in place to manage the existing situation. It was noted that this issue would be taken away with a written response to be provided.


Question – Cllr Matt Dean: With the development of Mane Way, it was promised that a bridge would be made over the railway line. Developer contributions have now been paid, therefore what are the plans for securing a bridge in Mane Way to alleviate traffic problems in Oldfield Park?


Answer: The commitment has been made to complete a bridge over the railway line, primarily using developer funding. The next stage is to have discussions with Network Rail to finalise the design of the bridge and gain their best advice on requirements for trains. The situation is in a good position and residents will be kept updated.


Question – Resident: Can assurance be sought whether the West End’s roads and pavements will be maintained to the highest possible level to help mitigate the impacts of heavy traffic increasing over time.  


Answer: The M4 to South Coast study is the best chance of resolving issues regarding the A350. In the meantime, the asset will be maintained by using the approaches outlined in the earlier presentation, with prioritisation of work taking place accordingly. With there being more lorries on the road, scanner surveys will pick up defects therefore meaning that this part of road will likely get more attention due to the effects of HGVs. Additionally, conversations are taking place with BANEs about the impact of increased transport the Local Transport Plan Review will prioritise such areas of the freight management strategy.


Question – Resident: As a result of climate change, a number of locations in Westbury are seeing regular flooding due to heavy downfalls and debris being pushed into gullies. The drainage system seems to not be fit for purpose, what prevention work is being done?


Answer: Carbon commitments and climate change are at the heart of the Wiltshire Council Business Plan. Though flooding is presenting a challenge, and the system is a historic asset, more funding has been allocated so that more work can be scheduled when challenges occur. There are good landowners in Wiltshire as well as poor ones, therefore conversations take place to avoid unnecessary silting. An extra £10million has been allocated towards highways maintenance over the next two years and it is hoped that this will be repeated. It is recognised from an asset maintenance perspective that due to climate change we are having significant and heavier rainfall.


Question – Resident: Having lived opposite the army base on Warminster Road for 14 months there has been a high increase in cars and lorries and the roads are unsafe with cars coming round quickly when pedestrians cross. It isn’t understood why there isn’t a camera or traffic light here to slow traffic.


Answer: Currently Wiltshire Council is not using speed cameras for fining purposes and if it was to, money would not be made due to the cost of running and maintenance. It was suggested that the resident speaks to the Town Council about potentially getting a SID, which would deter and slow drivers down with data also being able to be fed into the police for enforcement if the area was a hot spot.



Question – Resident: As a resident living on the West End, various defects in the road have been reported however replies have always been received saying that they are not bad enough for repair. These defects can cause houses to shake at 4am and over the past three years this has got worse with residents struggling to sleep and various houses on this road being put up for sale. If a defect isn’t bad enough to repair, then when is it?


Answer: A defect doesn’t need to be a safety defect of a P5 category perspective to make houses rattle, therefore it might not be a safety defect but rather one of noise and vibration. Officers apologised and stated that the forward work plan would be reviewed to see when work was scheduled as well as when the latest inspection was undertaken. If the last inspection had been long ago, another would be rescheduled.


Question – Resident: Regarding the Mane Way bridge, it was previously suggested that the roads within the housing development were too small compared to original plans. Are the roads wide enough to facilitate the bridge?


Answer: Yes, the roads are wide enough.


Question – Resident: Living in Westbury Leigh, there is a problem with pollution and congestion in the town centre on an internal and external level, with families also making short journeys. There is a reluctance to promote cycling to loved ones and families as it is believed that the roads aren’t safe with too many parked cars. What can be done to make active travel viable and alleviate problems?


Answer: Currently the Council is working on a Wiltshire Wide Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) and that additionally, plans specific to Salisbury, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Devizes were planned with areas such as Westbury next on the list. LCWIPs are important as they take a holistic approach to market towns and connectivity with surrounding villages. The importance of LCWIPs was further stressed as they are important for securing funding for such things as cycle lanes due to the Department of Transport criteria of bidding requiring a plan. Local ownership is important when developing an LCWIP, therefore it would be great for local people to be involved in the process.


Question – Resident: A lot of issues have a long-term solution, however has the Council considered short term solutions such as lorry bans like in London and approaching organisations who use the highways to potentially ask if they would like to contribute to maintenance?


Answer: This is a great idea but not one that is familiar to being used before, therefore it would be taken away for thought. Regarding potentially banning vehicles, this could potentially lead to the displacement of traffic, like what has happened in Bath. Wiltshire Council does have conversations with local freight operations, such as those operating at the distribution centre in Solstice Park, Amesbury and local quarries.


Question – Resident: Where does the money collected by speeding tickets go?


Answer: A proportion of this to Wiltshire Police to partly cover the cost of the enforcement officers trying to catch those who are speeding.


Question – Resident: What support is there to help parking in rural villages? In recent times fire engines haven’t been able to get through narrow roads.


Answer: The LHFIG can implement additional parking restrictions, after that it then becomes an enforcement issue which is dealt with in partnership with the Police. Officers are aware of particular locations.


Question – Resident: What percentage of the Wiltshire Council budget has been spent on the A303 Stonehenge tunnel?


Answer: This was not a Wiltshire Council project but rather a Highways England one, however Wiltshire Council would financially benefit from work relating to this with an element of Council resources going towards the project. The project would require one of the largest archaeological digs that the country had seen for years, which should be taken advantage of. Currently the project is under a judicial review, which would take place at the start of December, with the outcome awaited.


Question – Resident: With a bypass unlikely to happen, what is the plan B for Westbury?


Answer: The bypass is the intended solution, however over the coming years, reactive and preventative work will take place to support and manage the assets in Westbury as well as the traffic flowing through. The Council will keep maintaining the A350 to the highest standard possible with the resources available. The best chance to secure long term funding for a bypass is the M4 to South Coast study.  Reference was made to the Local Transport Plan, which would aim to balance the objectives of all road users as well as the council moving towards a safer systems approach for road safety.


Question – Resident: The future will bring the use of electric vehicles, which are heavier than those currently on the road. What will be done to combat this on a road which currently can’t cope?


Answer: Though the electric cars will improve air quality, this might lead to the roads requiring more maintenance. The Council would deal with this and look to Government if cars were to get heavier.


Question – Resident: Homes are currently being damaged a lot more due to roads, is the Council responsible for paying to damage caused by roads to properties?


Answer: Officers are unaware of property owners coming to the Council and placing a claim towards structural damage on properties. If a claim was to be made, then this would entirely depend on what was put before the Council.


Question – Resident: The pothole outside of my house doesn’t fit within the Council criteria but still wakes me up when lorries run over it and causes vibrations. Has the Council considered vibration monitors and does vibration analysis exist?


Answer: This will be taken away by officers who will then be able to provide current data available. Recently there is a member of staff who is completing a Master’s degree on vibration in roads and the ability to monitor and measure it. This could potentially generate information.