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THE town council is appealing for local authorities to work together to bring an end to the rising number of heavy lorries travelling through the town on the A350.
The council has spoken out in response to the temporary weight restriction on Bath’s Cleveland Bridge and a campaign to make the restriction permanent. Since the restriction was enforced by Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) in February, an estimated 200 additional lorries a day, weighing over 18-tonnes, have been diverted through Melksham on the A350, raising concerns about the increase in heavy traffic and its affect on the town’s air quality.
At a Melksham Town Council meeting last month, the leader of BANES, cllr Dine Romero, appealed for compromise, explaining that whilst BANES does not want to permanently pass on its heavy lorry problem to Wiltshire, it also doesn’t want the problem either.
Town councillors voted unanimously at the meeting to invite representatives from BANES, Wiltshire Council, local MPs, and other parish councils affected by the diversion, to meet and explore if a solution can be found that is suitable for all areas.
The possible negative impact of Bath’s clean air zone on Melksham – which will come into force from November and will charge most higher-emission vehicles to drive in its city centre – will also form part of the discussions.
At the meeting, BANES leader, cllr Romero said, “The important thing to stress is that I do not want to create a problem for Melksham and Wiltshire, but also I don’t want Bath to have a problem either. So at the end of the day we need to find a solution for the problem of 18-tonne vehicles – as it is clearly not right that either of our two communities has to suffer from vehicles going through and not to our city and town.
“When councillors and residents saw the difference that the weight restriction made to our roads – and I’m sure you would feel the same – they thought this is great, can we make it a permanent fixture.”
When pushed by Melksham’s town councillors to answer if the full BANES council are in support of the petition to make the weight restriction permanent, which is being led by a BANES councillor, cllr Romero said, “Before we say that we are in favour – we need to know what the impact will be elsewhere and make sure that we are not moving a problem to somewhere else.”
Leader of Melksham Town Council, cllr Vanessa Fiorelli said, “We all have a big issue with lorries and traffic. We need a long-term sustainable solution – this is only going to get worse, it won’t get better.”
About the petition to make Bath’s weight restriction on Cleveland Bridge permanent, cllr Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways told Melksham News, “We’re aware of the petition and have written to BANES to seek clarification on this issue. If such a unilateral move was proposed, we would oppose it as we have done successfully in the past.”