Kelston Road closure – solution needed ‘by start of May’

Conservative councillors are demanding that Bath and North East Somerset Council put a plan in place by the start of May which provides a solution to the closure of Kelston Road.

Conservative councillors have called upon Bath and North East Somerset Council to end what they have described as ‘handwringing’ over the issue and agree upon a solution to the road closure by no later than the beginning of next month.

The area’s two local Councillors, Martin Veal and Geoff Ward, have described the continued uncertainty over how long the road will be closed ‘completely unacceptable’ and have accused the authority’s ruling Liberal Democrat administration of ‘dithering’ over the issue.

The A431 Kelston Road is one of the main routes into Bath from the west of the city, but has been closed since February after cracks in the road were discovered to be caused by land moving beneath the road surface. So far the Council has said only that the road could be closed for up to a year.

The road’s closure has caused large tailbacks on diversion routes into the city and resulted in warnings of a drop in trade by small businesses in the area.

Since the closure the area’s Conservative councillors have helped arrange a meeting between residents and the Council and have led calls for a temporary road to be built to provide access for some vehicles. The local councillors have welcomed the fact this is being looked into, but have said the Council needs to move faster to get the temporary road in place.

Local Councillor Martin Veal (Cons, Bathavon North) said:

“People in the area are getting increasingly fed up with the lack of any kind of timetable from the Council for getting this road back open. We need a genuine plan of action in place, including a proper temporary route, as soon as possible.

“Residents understand that this is not a straightforward issue, and nobody is expecting the Council to be able to wave a magic wand.

“But three months should be ample time for the Council to at least get a plan in place. The Council needs to remember this is a main arterial route with residents and businesses within the area, many of which are suffering greatly and could face financial ruin.

“The Council leadership needs to end its handwringing, stop the dithering and get a plan in place by no later than the start of May. B&NES has millions of pounds in reserves for emergencies like these, so money should be no barrier. There is also a Government fund available for this type of emergency. The Council should commit to spending the sums necessary to get this road reopened, then recoup the money from Government after.”

Councillor Geoff Ward (Cons, Bathavon North), who first proposed the idea of building a temporary road, said:

“We first put forward the idea of building a temporary road to ease some of the traffic weeks ago. The Council has said it is looking into this, but yet so far nothing has come of it. As a member of the Army Reserve I have known the Royal Engineers to get temporary roads put in place in matters of days, and even the collapsed railway line in Dawlish has now been rebuilt and reopened.

“In the meantime better alternative routes needs to be agreed with South Glos Council to ease traffic on the small lanes in the area, as well as the main diversion routes and through Keynsham.”