Councillors in villages including Rushall, Urchfont and Enford – which claim to have seen an increase in heavy goods vehicles diverted from the A360 Devizes-Salisbury road – have been told the diversion signs are to stay.
However, the controversy is unlikely to go away as residents in the villages along the alternative route signposted in Nursteed Road in Devizes say their roads are not suitable for the large HGVs diverted from the A360.
Many have collided with the low bridge near what was originally a railway station hotel at Littleton Pannell and later became the Chocolate Poodle pub.
Coun Dick Tonge, Wiltshire Council portfolio holder for highways, told disappointed village councils at Pewsey Area Board on Monday that the diversion is to stay, because increasing the headroom under the bridge would cost an estimated £1 million, half of his annual budget for road safety projects.
“We couldn’t justify spending such a huge sum on one bridge,” Coun Tonge told the meeting in the Bouverie Hall.
Responding to questions from Coun Colin Gale, of Rushall Parish Council, Coun Tonge said all the representations from the villages along the alternative route had been considered.
Coun Tonge said surveys had shown that only ten per cent of the heavy goods lorries using the Devizes-Salisbury road were using it as a through road, the rest making local deliveries and collections. He said local authorities could not dictate routes to lorry operators who needed to make local deliveries. In fact, said Coun Tonge, the number of lorries heading out of Devizes on the Nursteed Road had gone down and not up as many people had thought.
Survey results showed that there were 326 lorries a day on the road two years ago which, in the most recent count, had fallen to 305.
Steph Robertson, of Chirton Parish Council, said the diversion of high-sided vehicles onto the A342 and A345 was causing extreme concern among villagers.
“These vehicles cannot remain on the correct side of the road at the junctions and on the bends without going over the white lines,” she said.