Conservatives demand answers over Kelston Road delays

Conservative councillors are demanding answers as to why a timetable and plan to reopen the A431 Kelston Road has still not been put in place by Bath and North East Somerset Council, four months on from its initial closure.

Kelston Road, which forms one of the main routes into Bath from the west, was closed to all vehicles in February after large cracks emerged on a stretch of the highway, which the Council believed to be caused by underground movement resulting from heavy rainfall.

Since then the Council has undertaken underground monitoring to assess what work needs to be carried out to stabilise and repair the road, and had promised that a plan of action to reopen the road would be put in place once this monitoring had been completed.  However, no firm timetable for reopening the road has yet been published.

As well as causing severe disruption to residents and businesses in Kelston, the closure of the road has caused long delays on alternative routes, particularly the A4 Newbridge Road and Keynsham bypass.

Opposition Conservative councillors have now tabled a series of questions to the authority’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet demanding to know when work will start on repairing the road, how long the work will take, and whether the Council will support the building of a temporary road whilst the repairs are completed.

Conservatives have raised concerns that one of the obstacles preventing work from starting is the Council’s Liberal Democrat administration’s reluctance to committing the sums necessary to reopen the road.

Conservative shadow transport spokesman, Cllr Anthony Clarke, said:

“Here we are four months on from the initial closure of Kelston Road and the Council still has no timetable for getting this vital route back open.  The lack of urgency in getting this road back open is completely unacceptable.

“The continued closure of Kelston Road is blighting the lives of nearby residents and businesses, and continuing to cause severe traffic problems on alternative routes, especially the A4 from Keynsham to Newbridge.

“B&NES needs to get its act together and put a plan in place to get this road back open immediately and get repair work stared asap.  If part of the delay is caused by the Lib Dems’ reluctance to commit the money necessary then that is downright wrong.  The Council has millions of pounds in emergency reserves for these types of eventuality, but should by now have applied to Government for financial assistance.” 

Newly elected Councillor for the area Terry Gazzard (Cons, Bathavon North) commented:

“I’ve spoken with many people in Kelston and the surrounding area about this issue over the past few weeks and it’s clear that residents are at their wits end.  The loss of customers as a result of the closure is causing untold harm to local businesses, and residents are having to cope with lengthy diversions and heavy traffic on small roads which were never designed to deal with such loads.  We desperately need a plan of action in place to get this sorted.”

Fellow Councillor Martin Veal (Cons, Bathavon North) added:

“It’s shame that the majority of efforts to get anything done about this have had to be driven by local residents, the Parish Council and us as ward councillors, whilst the impression given by the Council has been one of real reluctance treat this issue as a top priority.  Residents need action now.”