The Devizes Transport Strategy must be put into effect as soon as possible even though it is not the entire answer to the town’s congestion headache, a meeting in the Corn Exchange heard last Thursday evening.

The Devizes Community Area Partnership was holding its first meeting in the Wessex Room at the Corn Exchange after losing its former home in the council chamber at Browfort.

DCAP chairman Tony Sedgwick introduced a presentation on the traffic problems in Devizes which he maintains is discouraging visitors to the town.

He said: “It deters would-be shoppers and tourists who are put off by the tailbacks. It also limits the number of new houses that can be built in the area. We do need new homes, especially affordable homes and we are seeking to ensure that new affordable homes can be built without having disastrous results on traffic congestion.”

Mandy Bradley, Wiltshire Council’s service director for public protection, said that equipment was in place to monitor air pollutiion along London Road as part of a air quality survey that will lead to the creation of an action plan.

But Kate Freeman, chairman of DCAP’s transport group, said that action could be taken now to address the problems of traffic congestion and air pollution. She referred to national figures that show only 26 per cent of primary school children walk to school, the vast majority being driven to the school gate by their parents.

A large slice of the congestion problem could be solved by cutting down the school run and only a small cost was involved in supplying high visibility jackets and flashing armbands to local children to encourage them to walk to school.

She said: “Expanding the road network is not the answer. You only have to look at the Burbage bypass, which caused the shops in the village to die.”

But, during a break when those attending were asked to peruse the display of recommendations in the Devizes Transport Strategy, at least one person insisted that Devizes needs a bypass.

Mrs Freeman said that only about five per cent of all traffic using the A361 is through traffic.