Since being elected I’ve spent a lot of time trying to speed up the provision of various delayed highway improvements and repairs, many of which are located in Norton Fitzwarren. It seems to me that there is a fundamental problem with the system of providing infrastructure associated with new developments. More than most, Norton Fitzwarren residents will be fully aware of the impacts of large-scale development, with building work ongoing at the former Taunton Cider Works and Taunton Trading Estate. Both developments contain trigger points for the provision of highway improvements including the realigning of the B3227 in the centre of the village and provision of new pedestrian crossings. The provision of a new access road connecting the southern part of the Old Cider Works site to Silk Mills Road is also horribly delayed. These works are all the responsibility of the developers to complete. But what happens when they don’t meet the deadlines set? Well nothing apparently. And this isn’t good enough. I’ll be calling a meeting with relevant members and officers at Taunton Deane and the County Council to discuss a plan to make sure that developers can no longer drag their feet when it comes to providing infrastructure required under planning permissions and legal agreements.
But where does that leave us in Norton? In addition to the non-functioning crossings, there is also the issue of the half-completed bus shelter, outstanding speed reduction measures on Blackdown View and the rebuilding of the steps on the same street. This raises another issue, the abandonment of weedkilling on highways. These steps have been destroyed as a direct result of this policy and will probably cost more to rebuild than the policy saved. The steps are due to be rebuilt, starting in November, together with the provision of the speed reduction measures, which are currently out to consultation. I am pressing Taunton Deane and Somerset County Council to use whatever leverage is at their disposal to get the developers to complete the various half-finished works in Norton Fitzwarren. It’s a lovely village undergoing some fairly fundamental changes at the moment. Some disruption and inconvenience is inevitable during this period of transition but I am far from convinced that the local Councils and developers are doing anything like enough to smooth the process for local residents.
In Bishops Lydeard, the construction of a new roundabout by Taylor Wimpey, required off the back of the Station Farm development is now more than a year overdue. Construction is finally due to start in around 5 weeks but these delays are simply unacceptable and as local Councils we must hold developers to their obligations.
I’ll continue to do all I can to achieve timely completion of the delayed works and then seek a new settlement with developers that sees them deliver what is required on schedule.