Hard pressed town traders and Bridgwater commuters caught up in the traffic chaos caused by the SCC/EDF road works on the Taunton road Broadway junction will be told this week that good progress is being made , that the works are now ahead of schedule and that EDF are confident they’ll now have the job done by the autumn.
Westover councillors have been pushing hard to get the works brought forward, seeking mitigation for traders who have been losing custom and trying to find long term solutions so that the Town can recoup it‘s losses.
Mitigation funding sought
Councillor Brian Smedley said “We undertook a door to door survey of traders and demonstrated that turnover had been affected by these roadworks and showed a 28% fall across the town, clearly with St.Mary street being particularly hit. Each time we put the case to EDF including at face to face meetings with traders they were able to say , correctly, that they had transferred some £7m in mitigation funds to the Local Authorities and their part of the process was complete. This meant however that the money now sits in a pot known as the CIM fund (Community Impact Mitigation) but this is administered by West Somerset Council with a lengthy submission and approval procedure for each project.“
Town Council backing
County councillor for Bridgwater South, Leigh Redman , who has been monitoring the progress of the roadworks and giving regular updates to residents, said “ Sadly the CIM rules preclude individual traders from getting direct financial compensation. We therefore put an urgent report to the final meeting of Bridgwater Town Council which approved putting a bid in process , based on the comments of the traders , to seek funding for a ‘Bridgwater is Open for Business‘ project in an attempt to lure back lost trade. We then met with Sedgemoor economic development officers and asked them to help prepare a robust bid in conjunction with the Town Team who are looking at it now as a matter of urgency.“
Works programme brought forward
Cllr Kathy Pearce added “ The problem here is that this is not going to happen within the next few months due to the CIM procedure and so our other campaign had to also be to push EDF and SCC to speed the works up, change their works practices , remove transit impediments such as the compound as soon as they can to get the traffic flowing again. This now seems to have borne fruit and the barriers are likely to start coming down soon. We have constantly insisted that they keep residents and traders informed of progress“
Job done ‘ahead of schedule’
An EDF spokesman said that a letter would be going out to all residents immediatly and added “The improvements at Taunton Road and Broadway junction, which when complete, will give additional capacity and make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists,are now ahead of schedule and EDF are confident they’ll now have the job done by the autumn. We‘ve begun kerb realignment and footpath upgrades on the northern arm of the Taunton Road.”
The statement continued “The site compound will be reduced in size as we complete this work and footpaths will be temporarily closed whilst improvements are made. Our workforce will ensure access to properties is maintained. When this work is complete resurfacing of the junction can begin, this is currently being planned with the relevant authorities, and will most likely be undertaken outside of the below hours to help keep traffic flowing. Aggregate Industries will be undertaking this work on our behalf. Normal working hours are between 7am – 7pm from Mon – Fri and 8am – 1pm on Saturdays.“