A brief report appeared that evening on Facebook:
- The traffic down Chilkwell St and Bere Lane is appalling and getting worse because of Hinckley C. [Hinkley C is one element but it was also said that both the number and the size of trucks has generally increased over the years].
- Chilkwell Street is technically illegal for these lorries to use [this is a reference to the narrowness of the road near to Chalice Well gardens].
- No-one wants a bypass. End of.
- The consultation process was seriously flawed. Many people didn't get a survey and for those who did, the survey apparently made it look as though a new road was the only option. A data scientist stood up and said that if he'd presented it, he would have been fired.
- Serious pressure needs to be put on MDC [actually Somerset CC] to divert haulage companies (and sat nav companies) because there are other routes, e.g. down to the big arterial A303.
- That pressure probably needs to take the form of direct action, something that Glastonbury is very good at as there are so many activists here.
- There was a call for transparency in the Town Council as to who suggested the survey in its current form, and a declaration of vested interests.
- Vested interest declaration please from James Heappey, who seems heavily invested in a new road/Somerset E/W corridor to the M5 without other options - plus housing and commercial development to [help] pay for the new road, across a level 3 floodplain which is currently owned by other people, several of whom were at the meeting and who do not want to sell or split their land. Do write to your MP.
There were apparently ten Town Councillors present, but apart from the Greens who were running the meeting they all kept very quiet. There were a couple of brave HGV drivers who spoke, but their assurance that modern trucks are clean and emission-free carried little credence in the face of people’s actual experience of soot build-up on their window sills and some of their children’s asthma being made worse. There is also the noise, light pollution and on-going damage to the road surface to contend with. Sending all this heavy traffic through Glastonbury is inappropriate or worse.
Neither the MP nor either of Glastonbury & Street’s County Councillors were present, though Liz Leyshon (Lib-Dem) had said she would convey the feelings of this meeting to County Hall. Holly White, from a farming family who own land that would be split in two if the railway line proposal were to go ahead, offered to attend the next County Council meeting and speak for the three minutes allowed to members of the public.
There were also local councilors and members of the public from Pilton, Street, Walton and St Cuthbert Out (around Wells) at the meeting, and a suggestion that they should co-operate rather than working separately. How this could be followed up effectively would be a challenge, but with the right leadership would be well worth taking on.
Glastonbury’s four remaining Green Party Town Councillors had jointly written a letter to the paper last week, stating their belief that there should be no new road and HGV traffic should be moved to a different route. The meeting strongly supported this stance, and the energy ran high. It seemed very hopeful that they could feel the strength of their own constituency supporting them. One man who said he had voted for Heappey at the last election had decided never to do so again, and one woman who had supported the old railway line route for as bypass in the ‘consultation’ said she had changed her mind as a result of the meeting. Mostly, however, this was alternative Glastonbury empowering itself and perhaps realising its potential political strength.