The original plans were for a bus service to run to Wilstock via Bridgwater coming to the village via a bus gate that would be controlled through an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system. This was to be on the border between Bridgwater South and North Petherton Divisions and Cllr Leigh Redman and I have worked closely together to press for this to move forwards over the last three years. We have had numerous meetings, expressing our irritation, especially given the current appalling state of the concrete barriers between Rhode Lane and Octavia Close.
The Bus Gate cannot currently be delivered because there are no plans for a bus route serving Wilstock. In spite of conversations with First Bus and other public transport providers there was no way to bring forwards a service that would be financially viable. Fitting an ANPR bus gate without a bus service would not have been legal, so it needed to be a physical barrier, that would allow for pedestrian and cycle access but not motorised vehicles.
Cllr Redman and I were insistent that this should be a gate that the emergency services could open and we have sought support from the emergency services to achieve this. This has now been agreed and Bloors were asked on 11th February to design a gate, but the staff were subsequently furloughed due to the pandemic. These designs have not yet been received by Somerset County Council and I have asked officers to chase these as a matter of urgency.
Stockmoor-Wills Road bridge
The bridge that will link Limousin Way with Wills Road is funded by an application to the Community Impact Mitigation fund for Hinkley Point C, alongside grants from North Petherton Town Council and Bridgwater Town Council; along with two other schemes in Bridgwater.
The scheme has gone out to tender and the costings have been substantially higher than the original estimates. This has had a knock-on impact on another scheme in Bridgwater, which now cannot be delivered as part of this project. However, the Limousin Way-Wills Road scheme will go ahead once final permissions from the Environment Agency have been received.
Stockmoor Road Adoptions
The highways in Stockmoor currently belong to Persimmon Homes and there is a legal agreement for them to be handed over to Somerset County Council now all the houses have been built. Unfortunately, changes of staff at both Somerset County Council and Persimmon appear to have delayed the progress of this, but I am now assured that it is back on track.
The spine road (Stockmoor Drive and Charolais Drive) will be the first to be adopted and then sections of the rest of the village will follow in their housing parcels. There is remedial work that Persimmon have been asked to do in terms of the street lighting and the condition of the road before the formal adoption can be agreed and will finally take place a year after these are put in place.
Wilstock Road Adoptions
Similarly, Wilstock Roads belong to Bloor Homes, but the process of adopting the roads had been slow as the legal arrangements with the Highways Authority has still not been agreed. Somerset County Council officers met with Bloor’s staff on 11th February and the intention was to get legal agreements signed and inspections carried out on phase 1, 2 and 3a shortly afterwards. This came to a halt during lockdown as Bloor staff were furloughed. The outstanding elements are now being worked on and both parties are now keen to move forward on completion of the legal agreements.
In terms of phase 3b, there has been some progress in the technical discussion but these have not yet reached the stage where the drawings are approved, so this is ongoing.
Wilstock will be faced with a similar issue as Stockmoor, in that until Wilstock Way/Campion is completed, the housing parcels cannot be adopted in isolation. While heavy construction works are still ongoing, Bloor are hesitant at this stage to complete the final surfacing through, as it can suffer considerable damage.
There is a financial bond in place for completion of the distributor road and it is hoped there will be signed agreements and bonds in place for the residential areas to give the resident some comfort and protection that this will eventually happen.
Enforceable yellow lines can be put in place on an unadopted highway if the developers and the Highways Authority agree and issue a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). The yellow lines on Stockmoor Drive near the school are legally enforceable, for example.
As we all know, on-street parking has been a recurring issue in Stockmoor and Wilstock. The approach of Somerset County Council now is to review the parking restrictions in an area and consult with residents and road users on the most effective way of deploying parking restrictions. The concern is that once there are yellow lines on one street it may cause a problem on another street. Also, on-street parking does have the effect of slowing traffic speeds.
I have approached the Parking officer at Somerset County Council and Bloor Homes to ask them to consult with local residents about how to improve the parking situation and I will update as to their feedback.
Councillor Bill Revans, Somerset County Councillor for North Petherton Division.