News Archive 2006 - 2007

January 27th 2006 - advice goes from region to minister. Advice went to the minister from the region without Westbury in the primary list of schemes considered to be regional priority. It was in a Table labelled : Table 2 - Schemes which require further work and/or that require further analysis in relation to profiling of the programme and that could potentially be added to the RFA programme (subject to affordability and deliverability).

April 2006 - West Wilts asks region for as much new development as possible West Wilts District Council and Wiltshire County Council ask the South West Region for as many new houses as possible, suggesting 11,500 new jobs for the Trowbridge Travel to Work area by in the Regional Spatial Strategy, by 2025. It was noted that, whereas other local authorities had prepared public transport strategies to accompany growth, Wiltshire had neglected to do so.

July 2006 - LTP2 consultation fudge. Wiltshire finally complete their second local transport plan (LTP) for submission to the Department for Transport. Whereas the first LTP (of 2000) had to admit that road building was bottom of peoples' list of priorities, the authority made sure that would not happen again, by altering the way consutlation was done. The County wrote a piece of draft explanatory text outlining the County Council's own broad investment priorities and asked people to comment on it. WCC explains in its LTP2 that "Due to time constraints, only two of the four groups managed to complete this task, both of which raised no objections to the suggested text."Thus the local authority concluded that delivery of Westbury Bypass and the Brunel Link and Harnham Relief Road were in the top prioirty category in stakeholder consultation. In fact even in Westbury, the bypass was not high in the list of peoples' concerns.

WCC do admit that it was pointed out by consultees that LTP1 Major Schemes have no relevance in the prioritisation of Integrated Transport Block spending.

October 2006 Bath and North East Somerset vote to send their through HGV traffic on the A36-A46 through West Wiltshire on the A350. The alarm is sounded by communities on the A361 who would face even more lorries cutting East-West across the county, and by communities on the A350 including Beanacre, Melksham, Yarnbrook. WCC say "Wiltshire County Council will object to these proposals (the lorry management scheme) until traffic management and environmental improvements along the A350 route, and in particular the A350 Westbury By-pass, have been implemented in order to mitigate the diversion of lorries from the A36 through Bath". WCC neglect to make the case for bypasses at Yarnbrook, West Ashton, Beanacre of Melksham, or comment on the load of HGVs along the A361.

October 2006 - regional transport discussions go underground. The region decides to look again at schemes for regional funding, to give further advice to the Minister. To avoid unsettling anyone, the "refresh process" is done by a 'Technical Panel' comprising Environment Directors from Local Authorities and GOSW, RDA and Highways Agency. This all went on behind closed doors, without any stakeholder consultation because had that happened, the usefulness of Table 2 schemes to the region in promoting the RSS would have been questioned. The result is that schemes in Table 2 are fast-tracked as "priorities" with Wiltshire County Council's George Batten, unusually, taking a prime position on a small select team working direct with the Department for Transport in London.

March 2007 - second planning application submitted. The many objections to this have no affect on the County Council who are minded to give themsleves planning permission regardless. The County Council ignore even the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust who object substantially to the planning application. Natural England are pressurised by the County to such an extent, employing "gladiator tactics" that they eventually cave in, their only consolation being that the bypass will be a good "guineapig" for experimental mitigation on highly protected species. Their first letter of objection does however explain that they have do not support the scheme because it is unsustainable development.

July 2007 - the planning application is called in. This means that WCC cannot give itself planning permission and that instead there will be a full planning inquiry.