MP Ian Liddell Grainger

MP fires fresh broadside at A358 ‘chaos’

COUNTY highways officials have been accused of treating Somerset motorists with contempt after announcing another closure of the A358 between Taunton and Minehead.

The road is being shut to traffic tomorrow night (Tuesday) while resurfacing is carried out.

But local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger says people have been given too little warning of the move to be able to prepare for it and make alternative travel arrangements.

Last week Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, led a storm of protests against the two-week daytime closure of the road in Carhampton for flood prevention work.

Bus services were curtailed and thousands of cars jammed narrow lanes in the area as motorists tried to follow the county council’s official diversion routes – or devise their own.

Today (Monday) the council says the work is ahead of schedule and no further daytime closures will be necessary – while announcing the night-time closure to lay a new road surface.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said the county’s highways department was behaving in a disgracefully high-handed way.

“The closures last week were justified on the grounds of cost: doing the work at night was said to have been more expensive,” he said.

“But the real cost in terms of inconvenience, delays, missed hospital appointments and sheer travel disruption has fallen on road users.

“The council’s diversion signing was a disgrace and I am informed that calls to lodge a complaint over the chaos simply went unanswered.

“There appears to be a huge degree of arrogance behind these road closures as though actually listening to the views of local people and considering the problems they face is beneath the officials running the department.

“And we have seen the same again today: night-time closure of the road announced with just 24 hours’ notice.

“There may well be more shambolic highways departments somewhere in the UK but I have yet to hear of any.

“The A358 is not just any road: it provides the only decent route into Minehead for everyone – buses, emergency vehicles and private motorists. It cannot simply be closed at the whim of some faceless official in county hall who is obviously completely unacquainted with the local situation.”

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