A361 Action Group launched

Blog post, 28/7/2018

St Benedict’s Church, Glastonbury – before the days of heavy traffic.

Thursday evening was the inaugural meeting of the new A361 Action Group, held in St Benedict’s Church. It went really well, after wobbling a little at the beginning when Indra and Rob must have been slightly unsure of themselves. One or two people disagreed with the plan to divide the meeting into smaller groups to discuss specific campaigning topics. Perhaps there should have been a discussion and a vote on that subject, but anyway the result was that the Tories in the back row jumped on the idea, and then they walked out. Quite a lot of people followed, perhaps because they hadn’t realised that this was going to be a ‘business’ meeting.

Those who remained had a really productive time, with groups established to work on: gathering evidence for damage to property and health; liaison with other parishes along the potential route; direct action; legal issues and a possible challenge to the establishment of the A361 freight route status; looking at case studies for towns in the area that have successfully established 7.5 tonne weight limit restrictions; and press and publicity work. Anyone who is interested in the group generally or in contributing to one of these working groups, please contact me in the first instance, and I shall pass your details on to the appropriate person.

Campaigning materials available

At the A361 Action Group meeting it was announced that my blog was a useful source of information regarding the A361, and specifically about the campaign to reduce HGV traffic on this road and to avoid a bypass through Glastonbury’s iconic landscape as an inappropriate way to solve the problem.

Well, the blog has not been updated lately so I thought I’d better make something ‘useful’ available. The reason I haven’t put much up on the blog for a while is that I have been busy writing up the history of the A361 and the campaign, some of it based on a detailed examination of the minutes of A361 committee meetings and other relevant Town Council meetings etc.

The first two articles are mainly of historical interest, though I think they provide good background material for anyone with a historical frame of mind. The third is mainly based on the A361 committee’s minutes, and attempts to draw out the narrative of what happened when the Town Council effectively took control of the ‘Lighten the Load’ campaign; I found the story quite shocking myself. The fourth is my own story of how I got involved last October. The fifth is the even more shocking story of how a few Town Councillors who are also members the A361 committee put pressure on the Neighbourhood Plan group in an attempt to get MP James Heappey’s proposal for a Glastonbury bypass included in or with the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire – an attempt that was in fact unlawful. The sixth is an account of the Town Council’s so-called ‘Road Consultation’ that followed. The list to date is as follows:

1. ‘A medieval Cart Track with Tarmac’: early history of the A361, up to the second world war.
2. ‘Is your relief road really a relief?’ Background to the current situation, from world war two up to the County Freight Route designation.
3. ‘Lighten the Load’ and the A361 committee. An object lesson in why not to allow a grass roots movement to be taken over by officialdom.
4. ‘Chilkwell Street Traffic Survey’, based on my own diary entries from last October.
5. ‘Hanlon’s Razor’: The alarming story of how the ‘Glastonbury Road Consultation’ came to happen.
6. ‘Public Consultation’: The Town Council’s survey itself, February to March this year.

I hope that these articles will be useful campaigning material, and I certainly believe that the truth of how the Town Council have (mis)handled the whole situation needs to be known. All of these are still work in progress and if anyone has additional material I will be pleased to hear from you. I am currently working on a piece concerned with what the concept of ‘sacred landscape’ means to me, and what its implications might be. All these articles are still available here, and they make an interesting story.