The ‘route’ of the problem

[Wera Hobhouse MP with Roads Minister, Robert Holden]

Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse has been talking ‘strategic routes’ with the Road Minister, Rob Holden in an effort to persuade the government to keep heavy traffic away from having to pass through Bath.

They were discussing the proposed M4 connection to the Dorset coast. The proposed routes for the connection are to either continue using the A36 and A46 via Bath, Warminster and Salisbury or an alternative corridor, the A350, as the main strategic route for the area.

Whichever route is decided will begin a large programme of road works to make it suitable for the greater flow of traffic. The road will provide a link for traffic from areas such as Bournemouth and Poole. 

Mrs Hobhouse pushed Mr Holden in their meeting to choose the A350 rather than opting for a route which forces much higher volumes of traffic in and around Bath. Over the course of the consultation she has put a variety of reasons to the Government about how the A36/A46 route is unsuitable. 

One is that the proposed route does not align with the suitability of the Grade II* listed Cleveland Bridge and the Government’s imposed Clean Air Zone in the city which is designed to protect residents’ health. The Bath MP has also questioned why there has been such large central investment, totalling in the tens of millions, on the A350 route, including creating a freight centre, if that is not considered the optimal route. 

Bath’s MP has promised to keep pressing the Government to choose the A350 route and will follow the proceedings and findings of the consultation very closely.

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath and Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson, commented:

“My meeting with the Minister was a useful one. I raised to him once again that the A36/A46 is already wholly unsuitable to be the ‘strategic route’ currently and adding further traffic to it will only make the situation worse.

“Cleveland Bridge is a Grade II* listed site and it is well known that it is not the right route for a constant flow of 40 tonne HGVs. My constituents’ health will also suffer due to the greater amounts of traffic and resulting higher pollution.  

“Highways England and the Government must know that it is against all logic to choose this route and that the A350, which they have already sunk millions into upgrading, should be chosen instead. I am of course happy to help the Government look honestly at the alternatives and help them reach the best outcome at this crucial stage.”