UPDATE – Link to Points West Lunchtime News. HGV segment is at the end. Points West, Lunchtime News: 26/05/2022: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0017qh6 via @bbciplayer
Yesterday, the Points West camera was filming in North Perrott and with luck, today’s bulletin will feature a segment about the problem of HGVs passing through Somerset villages, the damage they do and the potential solutions to address what might happen in the future. Points West can be found on BBC1 and airs at Breakfast, at 1.30pm and again at 6.30pm. Edits do happen between each edition but can also be found on BBC iplayer.
A few days ago, Points West ran a segment about the volume of HGVs using the B3092 between Frome and the A303 and passing through Maiden Bradley in the process. The correct trunk route for lorries not having business on the B3092 is the A350. Maiden Bradley experiences over 25 HGVs per hour at peak times.
After this segment ran, the BBC was contacted by a number of Town and Parish Councils proclaiming similar problems, Cllr Allan Edwards from North Perrott among them. Unsurprisingly, every village in the country has a similar problem but there is a national framework of trunk roads but is the time to ensure that transport companies are ensuring their drivers use it?
Each village featured has slightly different problems and solutions. Maiden Bradley appears an open and shut case for a weight limit to force lorries onto the approved trunk road A350. The bulk of the HGVs appear to be transporting quarry stone from the Mendips to the A303, enroute to a final destination.
This is slightly different to North Perrott. The official trunk road alternative to using the A3066 is the A37. Unfortunately, a weight limit for North Perrott would most likely force heavy traffic to use the A356 and end up going through Misterton, adding further misery to their existing traffic problems. Past surveys have shown that almost all lorries on the A3066 and A356 have business on these routes and so a weight limit would have little effect on moving lorries to the A37. It is some time since the last HGV survey to establish what percentage of lorries are using our village as a short cut. The Parish Council has already written to the new Somerset County Council to request a new survey is taken as soon as possible. This will allow us to focus on how to best relieve traffic volumes in the future.
So far, the only long term solution that has been aired during Crewkerne Area planning meetings is for a link road between the A356 at Crewkerne Railway Station and the A3066 at the railway bridge near the junction with Silverstreet in Misterton. The road would run on the northern side of the railway, providing a bypass for for lorries to avoid both Misterton and North Perrott & Haselbury. The only problem being that it would need to be funded by developers, and that provides additional problems. It wouldn’t necessarily need development along the route but it would needed to be funded by development somewhere in the Crewkerne area. This is unlikely to happen any time soon, so for the moment, the aim is to keep this solution in the Crewkerne Area agenda and hope that like the CLR, it eventually bears fruit.
In the meantime, the NPPC will continue to focus on reducing the damage done by HGV’s to buildings in our conservation area and the social disturbance they bring to our otherwise quiet village. The Misteron road closure in 2020 brought focus on the combination of vehicle weight and speed resulting in intollerable vibration in houses abutting the main road. Pictures moved on walls, cracks appeared in plaster and dust fell from ceilings. The immediate implementation of the 20’s plenty for HGVs brought significant results, showing that by slowing HGVs down, the vibrations were dramatically reduced. The reopening of the A356 resulted in the bulk of HGVs returning to the Crewkerne route, principally because they either have business in the town or they were coming from the west on the A30, wanting to go towards Dorchester. In which case, North Perrott is a long cut. Hopefully, upcoming surveys will identify more about the movements of HGVs in the Crewkerne area. In the meantime, NPPC intends to continue to press for slower speeds by vehicles through the village with the introduction of village gateways. A new hamstone sign has already been ordered and the wooden gateways will be constructed in the near future. The SID has now provided us with real data about peak and average speeds in different areas of the village and show that while our average speeds are lower than anticipated, they are still far higher than the 24mph that would be required to be granted an offical 20mph limit. There is plenty of work in progress.