Two meetings held to discuss problems over Devizes traffic
12:00pm Thursday 31st January 2013 in Latest News
ACTION must be taken as soon as possible to help resolve the congestion problem in Devizes.
This was the message to a meeting of the Devizes Community Area Partnership in the Corn Exchange on Thursday evening, which discussed the Devizes Transport Strategy.
DCAP chairman Tony Sedgwick introduced a presentation on the traffic problems in Devizes, which he said 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 equipment was in place to monitor air pollution along London Road as part of an air quality survey that will lead to the creation of an action plan.
But Kate Freeman, chairman of DCAP’s transport group, said 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.
She said a large part 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 Devizes needs a bypass.
Mrs Freeman said only about five per cent of all traffic using the A361 is through traffic.
Bypass needed but is unlikely
WILTSHIRE Council leader Jane Scott said the answer to Devizes’ traffic congestion would be a bypass but there is no money to fund one.
Coun Scott was asked at a meeting of Devizes Area Board on Monday night about the problems of the town’s congestion and air pollution by town councillor Ray Taylor.
Coun Scott said: “We have to be realistic, it’s a medieval town and there are narrow streets. The only way is to get a bypass and, let’s be honest, you aren’t going to get one of those. I can’t see a time when there will be enough public money for those sorts of things.”
Wiltshire Council’s Devizes Transport Strategy, published in 2012, shows that 72 per cent of traffic starts, ends or is made within Devizes.
In some parts of the town – including around Shanes Castle – the level of nitrogen dioxide breaches the European safety standard. Wiltshire Council has sent a proposed air quality management area policy for Devizes to Defra for approval.
Kate Freeman, chairman of the transport group Devizes Community Area Partnership, said: “It’s truly shocking that we have so many air quality management areas in Wiltshire.”