Is this really a good time for £1m bypass survey?

Is this really a good time for £1m bypass survey?

Is this really a good time for £1m bypass survey?

First published in News by

Working on a newspaper, time seems to go by very quickly and it hardly seems possible that regular events such as exam results and carnivals have come around once again.

The same is true of certain news stories. It seems like only the other day when I was a reporter covering Westbury that the news was dominated by the bypass issue.

Recently I got a feeling of déjà vu when the White Horse Alliance presented a petition calling on Wiltshire Council to support its campaign to stop an eastern route for the bypass.

It was a shock to discover that many of the neverending council meetings and inquiries I sat through happened more than 15 years ago.

But it seems that very little has changed over those years. Lots of people want a bypass to stop the traffic congestion through Westbury but nobody wants it to go through the bit of countryside nearest to their homes.

The eastern route, which back in 2006 seemed to be the preferred option but was later rejected by the Government, would be the most straightforward road to construct. If it wasn’t for the White Horse it would probably have been built many years ago.

But of course that is a big IF. The White Horse is iconic and the most famous of all of Wiltshire’s chalk etchings and campaigners want the land to be declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The only issue surrounding the Westbury bypass which is clear cut is the huge amount of money that has been spent on consultant’s reports, planning inquiries and legal wrangles over the years.

Wiltshire Council is hard-up. It has just sacked scores of youth workers to try and save money and is going to limit the use of pensioners’ bus passes.

Surely now is not the time to add to the £5 million it has reportedly already spent on the bypass by giving £1 million towards a new study of bypass options being proposed by the local enterprise partnership?

It would be throwing good money after bad and highly likely that in another 15 years time the Westbury bypass saga will still be raging.

Far better for the council to keep its money to spend on improving the roads we already have and let a big developer come forward with plans and cash for a bypass solution.

That way private money can pay for years and years of wrangles rather than the public purse.

And if the past is anything to go by people won’t even have to worry about thousands of new houses being built in the countryside as the road issue will once again turn into the sort of cul-de-sac beloved of sat-navs.

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