A TEN-day closure of the main Taunton to Minehead road for roadworks next month has been condemned as ‘lunatic’ by the local MP.
Conservative Ian Liddell-Grainger says Somerset county council will be setting back West Somerset’s post-Covid recovery when it shuts the A358 from June 14.
The council needs to resurface 600 metres of the road at Combe Florey in a scheme which was originally scheduled for completion in April but which, it says, was delayed by ‘administrative issues beyond its control’.
Accordingly it is shutting the road from 9.30am to 3.30pm until June 25.
But Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said the closure had infuriated local councillors and would deal a heavy blow to the West Somerset business community just as it was starting to get back on its feet.
“The council could hardly have chosen worse timing,” he said.
“It was bad enough to have this road closed for several weeks earlier in the year, with all the tortuous traffic diversions that that involved.
“But to do this just as the summer season –and possibly the most crucial summer season anyone can remember – is getting underway is absolutely mindless.
“I don’t know who has decided to proceed with this delayed scheme now but clearly they have never had to run a business.
“It must be abundantly clear to anyone at county hall how much disruption any closure of the main route into West Somerset entails at any time of the year what with traffic being diverted miles out of the way.
“But to blunder ahead with this closure without considering the consequences for businesses is a truly lunatic decision. In case the county council hadn’t realised it West Somerset’s economy is tourism-based and anything which makes it more difficult for visitors to get to and from it is going to have a measurable, negative effect.
“If the work cannot wait – and I remain unconvinced that a few months’ delay would make any great difference – then at least it should be carried out at night so that it causes the least, rather than the most, disruption.”