Angry reaction to Ilminster road which could be "shut for two more years"

Angry reaction to Ilminster road which could be

Angry reaction to Ilminster road which could be "shut for two more years"

First published in News Chard & Ilminster News: Photograph of the Author by

A MAJOR route to the north of Ilminster may not re-open for another TWO years, it has emerged.

New Road, the B3168 which adjoins Station Road towards Ilton, was closed in mid-February amid fears it could fall down a slope when large cracks appeared in a 70-metre section.

Investigations have been taking place at the site and further along the route towards the bottom of the road, also known as Cemetery Hill.

But at a council meeting, Mayor Emma Jane Taylor said she has been told it could remain shut for “a two-year period”.

She told the News its’ closure is impacting the town like never before in the ten years she has lived in Ilminster.

She added: “There are definite indications that traders are losing business. People who relied on regular customers from Hambridge and Ilton, those people are now going to Langport because they can’t get into Ilminster and want to avoid the main road because of holidaymakers at this time of year.

“The analysis could come back by Christmas but they are not going to start work on the road over winter. I don’t think anybody realised when it closed how important the road into the town was.

“I think people would like to see what is going on and a clear timetable of what is scheduled. The fear in Ilminster is that we are just being forgotten as other issues are just being pushed in front. People fear that two years could become five years.”

Clinton Bonner, of Bonners Butchers, described the situation as ‘diabolical’.

He added: “You can build a hotel in the sand in two years – there have been rumours around that it will take that long but I didn’t want to believe them.

“Our footfall is down and with other road closures and one-way systems, the whole of Ilminster is being taken off the map.

“It has definitely affected the dynamics of the town – there is less of a buzz – and with Christmas coming up it is a worrying situation.”

New Road resident Ann Leontowitsch said she loves Ilminster but does not feel she lives in the town anymore as she has been ‘cut-off’.

She said: “The lack of information we get from the council is depressing – we just want to know what is going on. They could leaflet us – I’m not asking for a major confrontation.”

Traders in Ilminster are compiling figures in a bid to get funding from South Somerset District Council over losses to business.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said geotechnical investigations had been completed and laboratory testing of samples was taking place to help understand how to repair the road.

The spokesman added: “We have always stressed that this is a complex matter and we are very grateful for the patience shown by everyone affected.

“We are not in a position to give a finish date but please be assured we will re-open the road as soon as we can.”

Comments (13)

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8:36pm Tue 26 Aug 14

Watchkeeper 10 says...

Can someone tell me how this can happen in developed country. We now need to have a public meeting to question the county council and in particular this idiot Mike Fear, who doesn't even have the common decency to keep those affected informed.
Can someone tell me how this can happen in developed country. We now need to have a public meeting to question the county council and in particular this idiot Mike Fear, who doesn't even have the common decency to keep those affected informed. Watchkeeper 10
  • Score: 15

10:55pm Tue 26 Aug 14

highwayhell says...

Watchkeeper is quite right. It is about time these people are made accountable. Apart from the fact that it seems that Mike Fear is way out of his depth ( he probably normally only deals with potholes and blocked drains ). The County Councillors for this area should appear more vocal in calling on Harvey Siggs to be more proactive in giving this issue some urgency and getting professional help to sort this out. They managed it in Bath and work is now underway to repair the landslip there. Ilminster town council should be organising a meeting as soon as possible.
Watchkeeper is quite right. It is about time these people are made accountable. Apart from the fact that it seems that Mike Fear is way out of his depth ( he probably normally only deals with potholes and blocked drains ). The County Councillors for this area should appear more vocal in calling on Harvey Siggs to be more proactive in giving this issue some urgency and getting professional help to sort this out. They managed it in Bath and work is now underway to repair the landslip there. Ilminster town council should be organising a meeting as soon as possible. highwayhell
  • Score: 19

8:36am Wed 27 Aug 14

keepcalmandbeathe says...

Judging by all the blocked drains around Ilminster, he ain't much good at that either. It is disgraceful that this has been allowed to continue with no sense of urgency. I cannot imagine this would have taken so long to come up with a solution if this was in Taunton.
Judging by all the blocked drains around Ilminster, he ain't much good at that either. It is disgraceful that this has been allowed to continue with no sense of urgency. I cannot imagine this would have taken so long to come up with a solution if this was in Taunton. keepcalmandbeathe
  • Score: 15

1:25pm Wed 27 Aug 14

Watchkeeper 10 says...

Unfortunately highwayhell, therein lies one of the problems, you are expecting the Town Council to do something, do you remember about 2 or 3 months ago how badly overgrown the cemetery had become, this was only addressed after a County Cllr criticized the Town Council.

If the road remains closed for another 2 years it will have been closed for 2 years and 7 months.

In comparison, it only took 3 years and 6 months to build the second Severn Crossing and only 2 years and 9 months to dig the Channel Tunnel, would the County Council have us believe that the engineering hurdles experienced in repairing about 150 metres of road, whatever the cause of the collapse, are greater than the engineering hurdles that these 2 projects had to surmount?
Unfortunately highwayhell, therein lies one of the problems, you are expecting the Town Council to do something, do you remember about 2 or 3 months ago how badly overgrown the cemetery had become, this was only addressed after a County Cllr criticized the Town Council. If the road remains closed for another 2 years it will have been closed for 2 years and 7 months. In comparison, it only took 3 years and 6 months to build the second Severn Crossing and only 2 years and 9 months to dig the Channel Tunnel, would the County Council have us believe that the engineering hurdles experienced in repairing about 150 metres of road, whatever the cause of the collapse, are greater than the engineering hurdles that these 2 projects had to surmount? Watchkeeper 10
  • Score: 15

1:40pm Wed 27 Aug 14

hoolihan says...

The town is slowly but surely dying. For goodness sake will someone tackle this situation head on and get something sorted before our wonderful town gets to the point of no return.
The town is slowly but surely dying. For goodness sake will someone tackle this situation head on and get something sorted before our wonderful town gets to the point of no return. hoolihan
  • Score: 10

6:14pm Wed 27 Aug 14

Ilminster Res says...

So having indicated that the road repairs will commence at the end of the year, we now realise that the year Somerset County Council actually meant was 2016 and not 2014. Do we then find out in 2016 that it will reopen in 2018 .. and so on. Is there any intention of the Council to repair this busy road or do they think if they drag their heels for long enough, people will give up protesting and stick to the detours?
So having indicated that the road repairs will commence at the end of the year, we now realise that the year Somerset County Council actually meant was 2016 and not 2014. Do we then find out in 2016 that it will reopen in 2018 .. and so on. Is there any intention of the Council to repair this busy road or do they think if they drag their heels for long enough, people will give up protesting and stick to the detours? Ilminster Res
  • Score: 8

5:16pm Thu 28 Aug 14

Jimsainsbury says...

I still do not understand why the road cannot be opened with a weight/width limit with lights to make it one-way so cars can use it. Or are the experts saying the damage has been done by cars and not 40 tonne lorries. Has the council suggested this option and has it been refused?
I still do not understand why the road cannot be opened with a weight/width limit with lights to make it one-way so cars can use it. Or are the experts saying the damage has been done by cars and not 40 tonne lorries. Has the council suggested this option and has it been refused? Jimsainsbury
  • Score: 9

6:18pm Thu 28 Aug 14

Ilminster Res says...

I'd like to know exactly what the Town Council are doing about the road. If you read the minutes of the meetings there is hardly any comments made and nothing on their website about it (but don't worry they are keeping us updated on the scarecrow competition). Why aren't they updating businesses and residents what they are doing on a weekly basis. Putting pressure on Somerset County Council is I suspect the only way the road will move forward. What about them calling a public meeting with Mike Fear etc attending to answer questions?
I'd like to know exactly what the Town Council are doing about the road. If you read the minutes of the meetings there is hardly any comments made and nothing on their website about it (but don't worry they are keeping us updated on the scarecrow competition). Why aren't they updating businesses and residents what they are doing on a weekly basis. Putting pressure on Somerset County Council is I suspect the only way the road will move forward. What about them calling a public meeting with Mike Fear etc attending to answer questions? Ilminster Res
  • Score: 8

10:42pm Thu 28 Aug 14

highwayhell says...

It is purely political the County Council know this is going to be an expensive repair and with all the funding for road projects taking place in Taunton and the Levels they are stalling any resolution until at least the next financial year. That is why there has been a lack of support from the Local Councillors to push this forward. What on earth the town council is doing is beyond me. This should be high on their agenda every month that goes by and calling people to account as to why these investigation have taken so long to start.
It is purely political the County Council know this is going to be an expensive repair and with all the funding for road projects taking place in Taunton and the Levels they are stalling any resolution until at least the next financial year. That is why there has been a lack of support from the Local Councillors to push this forward. What on earth the town council is doing is beyond me. This should be high on their agenda every month that goes by and calling people to account as to why these investigation have taken so long to start. highwayhell
  • Score: 8

1:06pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Watchkeeper 10 says...

So it would appear that the comments attributed to the mayor are nothing more than rumour and tittle tattle. However, the mayor clearly understands the issues "its’ closure is impacting the town like never before in the ten years she has lived in Ilminster". She added: “There are definite indications that traders are losing business. People who relied on regular customers from Hambridge and Ilton".

Given the comments above, I thought I would have a look at the Council Minutes for the meetings held thus far this year, since the road was closed and try to see how hard the Town Council was pushing the County Council to get this issue resolved. I had to read the minutes a few times just to be sure as I could not find a single mention of the road closure. Then I thought maybe it was discussed at the Planning, Highways and Transport Committee meetings, so I read those as well, but again no coconut! Nothing mentioned there either. However, I was delighted to see that the scarecrow competition warrants discussion.

I can just image the shopkeepers counting their takings for the week and setting of to the bank with a heavy heart as takings are down again because more people from the villages to the north are abandoning the town. Still I bet they all have a smile on their face when they think of the scarecrow competition!!!

I noticed in a town shop window the other day that suggestions are being sought for the Ilminster Experience 2015. I have a suggestion, the Town Council should put some pressure on the County Council and get the road repaired and re-opened, before the damage being done to local businesses is irreversible.
So it would appear that the comments attributed to the mayor are nothing more than rumour and tittle tattle. However, the mayor clearly understands the issues "its’ closure is impacting the town like never before in the ten years she has lived in Ilminster". She added: “There are definite indications that traders are losing business. People who relied on regular customers from Hambridge and Ilton". Given the comments above, I thought I would have a look at the Council Minutes for the meetings held thus far this year, since the road was closed and try to see how hard the Town Council was pushing the County Council to get this issue resolved. I had to read the minutes a few times just to be sure as I could not find a single mention of the road closure. Then I thought maybe it was discussed at the Planning, Highways and Transport Committee meetings, so I read those as well, but again no coconut! Nothing mentioned there either. However, I was delighted to see that the scarecrow competition warrants discussion. I can just image the shopkeepers counting their takings for the week and setting of to the bank with a heavy heart as takings are down again because more people from the villages to the north are abandoning the town. Still I bet they all have a smile on their face when they think of the scarecrow competition!!! I noticed in a town shop window the other day that suggestions are being sought for the Ilminster Experience 2015. I have a suggestion, the Town Council should put some pressure on the County Council and get the road repaired and re-opened, before the damage being done to local businesses is irreversible. Watchkeeper 10
  • Score: 11

9:25am Tue 2 Sep 14

Ilminster Citizen 1 says...

I think we should be very grateful that Ilminster Town Council see discussing the scarecrow competition and the cricket pavilion as important issues. I fear to think what would happen to our wonderful town if they actually had any influence on our lives.
I think we should be very grateful that Ilminster Town Council see discussing the scarecrow competition and the cricket pavilion as important issues. I fear to think what would happen to our wonderful town if they actually had any influence on our lives. Ilminster Citizen 1
  • Score: 5

8:59pm Tue 2 Sep 14

Ilminster Res says...

Well said Ilminster Citizen 1
Well said Ilminster Citizen 1 Ilminster Res
  • Score: 5

2:31pm Thu 4 Sep 14

hoolihan says...

The Town Council appear to be part of the problem for the town. They are supposed to control the Thursday markets now and allow stallholders to do whatever they want with regard to what they sell and how long they stay there. The plant man is always there way beyond the time he pays for and some of the others aren't much better. They pay a small nominal fee for the privilege. Why are so many stalls in direct competition with independent traders in the town who work tirelessly all year to make our town what it is. Please Town Council police the Thursday market and at least give our local shops half a chance of surviving until the road closure is sorted. We already have one empty shop and another shortly to follow. We don't want to end up like the ghost town that Chard has become.
The Town Council appear to be part of the problem for the town. They are supposed to control the Thursday markets now and allow stallholders to do whatever they want with regard to what they sell and how long they stay there. The plant man is always there way beyond the time he pays for and some of the others aren't much better. They pay a small nominal fee for the privilege. Why are so many stalls in direct competition with independent traders in the town who work tirelessly all year to make our town what it is. Please Town Council police the Thursday market and at least give our local shops half a chance of surviving until the road closure is sorted. We already have one empty shop and another shortly to follow. We don't want to end up like the ghost town that Chard has become. hoolihan
  • Score: 2

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