The following is the email received from SCC, following a request made to Rebecca Pow MP by the PC Chair, Phil Young, to try to seek solutions from them on the subject of the impact (literally) of HGVs travelling through the village:
“Thank you for your email of 25 August received from Phil Young of Milverton Parish Council which sets out their concerns about the ongoing problems of HGV movements and road safety in Milverton.
Although we fully appreciate and understand their concerns about HGV’s travelling through the village, it would only be possible to prevent access by introducing an environmental weight limit. This is not necessarily the answer and there is no simple solution. HGV drivers do not usually choose to use routes that are not suitable for their size due to the difficulty negotiating them. In addition, environmental weight limits have to allow access and are therefore extremely difficult to enforce.
In the case of Milverton we have to consider where HGV traffic would go if vehicle movements were to be restricted. If we imposed restrictions on HGV movements the likelihood is that drivers would simply divert onto other roads in the area which will inevitably result in requests being received from affected communities for similar measures. Another consequence is that it will increase the distance that HGVs have to travel which would be detrimental to the environment. Somerset County Council’s freight strategy seeks to use the most appropriate routes and avoid a situation where HGV bans or restrictions in one community will make things worse for another. Diverting HGV traffic away from Milverton is likely to increase HGV movements through other areas, potentially increasing the number of HGVs using more unsuitable routes. Whilst I appreciate that the village has a number of listed buildings located close to the public highway, the main road running through the village is classified as a B road and therefore large vehicles will on occasion need to travel through it to access local businesses and also farmland that surrounds the village. If a restriction were to be imposed this access could not be denied.
I can confirm that we have been working with the parish council regarding a number of issues and highway works have followed; we have installed bollards where the road narrows to protect pedestrians and also agreed to obtain traffic data to ascertain the numbers of HGV’s travelling through the village. Once we have this information we will share it with the Parish Council. However, I would not wish to raise an expectation that restrictions on vehicle movements will follow.
I hope the above has explained our position but if you require any further information please let me know.
Regards Alyn Jones
Director of Economic and Community Infrastructure Operations, Somerset County Council”.
At the October meeting of the PC, this response was considered and whilst acknowledging SCC’s (disappointing) conclusions, ie that there is not going to be a magic solution to eliminate HGVs, the position is to continue to be monitored and reports of issues logged, signage indicating the route is ‘Unsuitable for HGVs’ is to be investigated and the offer to have data collected on road usage is to be accepted.
Any photographs of examples of HGV issues continue to be welcomed by email to the Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details such as date, time, registration number and name of the business owner of the vehicle would be very helpful.
The Parish Council will be considering grant requests over £200 at its December meeting. Applications can be made by village bodies or groups of individuals. A form is available from the Clerk and should be submitted by Friday 26 November. For information, grants of less than £200 can be sought at any time, again contact the Clerk on 01823 432959 or email email@example.com for further information.
Speed indicator devices
As noted in the October, the Parish Council has agreed to purchase two SIDs which will then be available to be sited on poles at 6 different locations around both Milverton and Preston Bowyer. Under SCC regulations they cannot be permanently sited, as they lose their effectiveness through ‘driver-familiarity’, so they will need to be moved around and for this volunteers will be needed. It is hoped to have a team of people available so the task won’t be too onerous.
Volunteers will be required to undertake a formal training course in view of the value (the SIDs cost in excess of £2,000) and HSE requirements, the cost of which will be fully met by the Parish Council. As well as moving the SIDs, checks will need to be made on the batteries every so often, changing them when necessary (for info the units weigh 10kg).
If you are interested in being part of the rota and which will be directly contributing to improving road safety in the parish, please contact Steve Potts on 07854 439266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. It is anticipated that the SIDs will be operational by February 2022.
It was not possible for the Parish Council to debate the comments made in October, but it is intended to be on the agenda in November.
The issue is a nation-wide problem with no easy solution, it being a sad fact that a minority of dog owners, presumably for a variety of reasons, do not pick up after their dog. The effect of having more dog bins available cannot be accurately measured but is an option that will be considered.
As was noted in the October, the Parish Council would be liable for the cost of each additional bin, which could be in the order of over £600pa. This cost would be met by being allowed for in the annual calculation of the village precept.
If you wish to make any comments either on whether or not you think the Parish Council should purchase more bins or on the issue of dog mess generally, please contact the Clerk or any Parish Councillor.
It was very gratifying to hear that the defibrillator sited at the Victoria Rooms was used successfully when needed recently.
Under the contract that the Parish Council has with the South West Ambulance Service, training sessions are provided annually and it is unfortunate that these have not been possible under Covid restrictions. We are told these sessions will resume shortly and details will be advertised. The procedure does not require detailed medical knowledge, just confidence to use it, with what can become life-saving results.
The next Council meeting will be held on Monday 1 November at the Victoria Rooms, starting at 7pm.
If you have any queries on any Parish Council matter please let me know.