Many villagers have noticed the increase in Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) since the 18 tonne weight limit was placed on the bridge (culvert) opposite the Globe Inn in Misterton. This has greatly increased the number of HGVs passing through the village, which is having a great impact on those whose houses directly abut the A3066 in both North Perrott and Haselbury. In particular, the speed they travel and the number of times lorries have to squeeze past each other in numerous pinch-points along the route.
A number of residents have reported that the increased numbers of lorries can be heard and felt as they pass by only metres from where they are sitting. There have been at least three reports of new cracks appearing in interior plaster-work on roadside walls. Some of these houses will have 15th Century origins and their foundations will not be up to modern standards. This means that the fabric of the buildings will be under stresses that they were never designed to withstand.
Work is scheduled to start on repairing the bridge by the Globe in early January 2021 but there is reason to believe it might be delayed because of the contractual complexity and licences that must first be obtained. There is good reason to fear that there will be protracted delays and so the Parish Council has decide to act now to prevent any potential damage to our heritage buildings that make our village worthy of its “Conservation” status.
In the first instance, we have sought permission and had it approved by Somerset County Council to launch a campaign to ask HGV drivers to voluntarily keep to 20mph while in the 30mph zone.
We want to give a clear reason for requesting drivers to do this and have decided to emphasise that we are a Conservation Area and that our 15th Century properties have little or no foundations. Speed plus weight equal vibration and so if we can reduce the speed of the lorries by over 30%, the reduction in potential damage will be reduced by much more than that.
We will also be politely asking local distribution firms to acknowledge our problems and ask them to direct their drivers accordingly. We also hope to monitor lorry speeds and write a similar letter to businesses outside our area, if their lorries are seen to be going over 20mph through the village.
There is every reason to suspect that HGV traffic will return to the A356 when the weight restriction is lifted in Misterton. The reason for this is because traffic surveys show that almost all lorries using the A3066 and A356 have a genuine reason to use those routes, any lorry dropping goods in Crewkerne will not want to come through North Perrott, which is undoubtedly a tedious and lengthy diversion for most of them. However, for the work to be done the A356 will have to be closed to all traffic for 4 weeks and in the long term, road traffic is unlikely to get any lighter. Therefore, in the January Parish Council meeting we will be discussing ways to build on our “Conservation”status and make traffic more aware of the importance of the heritage of the village and the delicate nature buildings that line the main road.
To kick off this campaign, banners will be placed at each end of the village and repeated at Townsend, to request that HGVs voluntarily reduce their speed to below 20mph. At the same time, anyone who thinks they may have damage to their property that might be caused by road traffic, to start to monitor it as soon as possible. This could be done by a professional surveyor or on a basic level, by marking any crack with a piece of masking tape placed across it and making a mark on each side. Measure the distance between the marks on a weekly basis to monitor movement in the wall.