Council highways bosses defend Ilminster road closure

Council highways bosses defend Ilminster road closure

Council highways bosses defend Ilminster road closure

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

COUNCILLORS have defended their position after being criticised over the time it is taking to re-open a major route to the north of Ilminster.

After the News’ front page story last week, which reported that the road may not re-open for another two years, we sent a list of questions to county councillors Harvey Siggs, who is in charge of highways, and Linda Vijeh, who represents Ilminster.

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.

We asked the following questions: n What have you been doing to help reopen the road?

  • Why is it taking so long?
  • Why does it feel as though other projects/ issues are being pushed ahead of this road closure?
  • Why can no-one give people in the town a schedule of work taking place, how long it will take and an estimated time of completion?
  • Why are people not being kept up to date with how work is going?

We also asked Cllr Vijeh if she had spoken to Cllr Siggs about the road closure and asked her what he had said about the issue.

Cllr Siggs said the specialist nature of the investigations had meant slower progress.

He added: “If it were a simple problem with an easy resolution then I can assure you it would have been completed.

Chard & Ilminster News: Harvey Siggs.

Cllr Harvey Siggs.

“There has been no downgrading of this project in favour of other work.

“As to timetabling, as soon as we can give a definitive timetable you will be one of the first to know.

“Be assured that frustrations are not only with the public but with councillors and officers who really want resolution to this issue.”

Cllr Vijeh said she disputed claims that people have not been kept informed.

She said: “I have been in regular contact with SCC Highways – often several times a week – in connection with the road closure and the severe impact it has been having and with regard to possible compensation.”

Cllr Vijeh said she provides a written report to Ilminster town councillors and parish councils on her activities each month.

She added: “I would expect them to pass on any relevant information or to forward particular concerns raised to me for action.

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Cllr Linda Vijeh.

“The absence of this course of action in connection highways was raised by me only last week. If I don’t know what the concerns are, I can’t do anything about it.

“From the very beginning, I have pushed for a timescale of action and have been unable to obtain specific dates or timescale.

“My understanding is that one of the issues for what seems to be such a slow pace is the use of outside contractors to carry out the necessary initial investigation work before remedial action can be taken.

“The situation is complex, and while it is not an acceptable excuse, we all recognise that last winter brought with it exceptional weather and as a consequence major damage across the county, the likes of which has never been seen before.

“I take very seriously any suggestion that I might be shirking in my duties and responsibilities towards the people of Ilminster.”

  •  How has the road closure affected you? Call chief reporter Daniel Milligan on 01823-365104 or email newsdesk@chard andilminsternews.co.uk

Comments (2)

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11:19am Thu 4 Sep 14

keepcalmandbeathe says...

Something does not add up. If the county councillor is keeping the Town council up to date on what is happenning, why did the Towns Mayor say she heard it would be two years before the road is reopened a couple of weeks ago. and because Linda Vijeh does not represent the communities North of Ilminster have they not been getting any regular updates at all from their County Councillors. However it does sound like we should be getting some timescales very soon. We shall see.
Something does not add up. If the county councillor is keeping the Town council up to date on what is happenning, why did the Towns Mayor say she heard it would be two years before the road is reopened a couple of weeks ago. and because Linda Vijeh does not represent the communities North of Ilminster have they not been getting any regular updates at all from their County Councillors. However it does sound like we should be getting some timescales very soon. We shall see. keepcalmandbeathe
  • Score: 5

6:54pm Sun 7 Sep 14

Literal Goat says...

I did a search to see if there were any aerial photographs showing subsidence in the fields parallel to the affected stretch of road, and found this rather dramatic one -

http://binged.it/1qt
jzPM

If you zoom in a bit more you can see the 'ripples' a bit more clearly. I'm guessing it's unlikely to be a co-incidence given that both of those fields are next to the stretch of road affected. Not sure of the date, but it must be before February 2014 given the road itself looks open.

Also interesting that if you look at Google Streetview's fairly old imagery of the road, which is dated as 2010. Although there doesn't appear to be any evidence of the road or walls subsiding, there's one modern building with a massive great crack right across the front. If the date is right then it must have been subsiding for a while before the rain in February 2014 caused the sudden 'jump'.

Anyway, I hope the report sheds more light on what exactly has happened and a way is found to deal with it safely in quicker time, for the sake of local residents and businesses.
I did a search to see if there were any aerial photographs showing subsidence in the fields parallel to the affected stretch of road, and found this rather dramatic one - http://binged.it/1qt jzPM If you zoom in a bit more you can see the 'ripples' a bit more clearly. I'm guessing it's unlikely to be a co-incidence given that both of those fields are next to the stretch of road affected. Not sure of the date, but it must be before February 2014 given the road itself looks open. Also interesting that if you look at Google Streetview's fairly old imagery of the road, which is dated as 2010. Although there doesn't appear to be any evidence of the road or walls subsiding, there's one modern building with a massive great crack right across the front. If the date is right then it must have been subsiding for a while before the rain in February 2014 caused the sudden 'jump'. Anyway, I hope the report sheds more light on what exactly has happened and a way is found to deal with it safely in quicker time, for the sake of local residents and businesses. Literal Goat
  • Score: 1

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