The scheme to construct bypasses around Glastonbury and Pilton was first announced in January last year, as part of a series of proposals that were intended to provide improvements to the A39 and A361 – as part of the government's proposed new 'Major Road Network'. In January this year, the Department for Transport asked Somerset County Council to supply evidence that the scheme had widespread support within the local communities.
On 25th February, Glastonbury Town Council was informed that the County Council would now "seek to withdraw the Glastonbury and Pilton Major Road Network (MRN) scheme from the list of schemes prioritised by the Peninsula Transport Sub-National Transport Body, and withdraw the associated expression of interest for scheme funding which has been submitted to the Department for Transport ... The Peninsula Transport Board is asked to remove the Glastonbury and Pilton MRN scheme from its list of agreed Major Road Network investment priorities."
This is because "The DfT has asked for confirmation of local community and political support", which clearly is not there. Therefore, "To avoid any ambiguity about the status of the scheme it is recommended that the scheme is withdrawn from the Peninsula Transport priorities and withdrawn from further consideration by the Department for Transport."
This was reported in the Central Somerset Gazette on Thursday March 5th. Wells MP James Heappey, who had formerly promoted a bypass scheme in order to create "a strategic road into the heart of Mendip", was quoted as now saying that he "welcomed the news", and that "it was clear the government would not consider supporting this scheme."
The article mentioned briefly that the scheme had "come in for criticism" from Pilton residents, and failed to report at all that Glastonbury Town Council had firmly opposed it.
The following week, Glastonbury Councillor Paul Lund asked whether the scheme had definitely gone for good, and County Councillor Liz Leyshon replied that "The answer will be found in the minutes of the next Peninsula Transport group meeting, and when they are located or released then the town clerk will post them on our Town Council web site."
This has not yet happened, though James Heappey's statement of the government's position seems unambiguous. It may be that he intends to see heavy traffic through Glastonbury and Pilton increased until we all cry for mercy; but in the mean time the world has become at least as uncertain as it was during the Brexit negotiations, and the future of our government's multi-billion pound road schemes and infrastructure projects may yet be hanging in the balance.