Decision expected on controversial A371 closure plans by end of week
A decision is due to be announced by the end of this week – September 9 – on controversial plans to close the busy A371, one of the major routes through the area - for up to 19 weeks from next Monday.
The closure will mean an 18-mile detour for all traffic while vital repairs are carried out on the railway bridge at Castle Cary.
At a stormy meeting at the Brook House Inn at Alhampton last night, more than 200 angry residents, shopkeepers, councillors and businessmen bombarded rail bosses with complaints.
Castle Cary traders argued they might as well shut up shop now as the road closure threatens them with financial ruin in their busiest time of the year in the run up to Christmas.
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And road hauliers and food company bosses with operations across the area backed the protests saying the extra fuel costs, time and inconvenience incurred by the detour could cripple their industry.
Paul Hooper, administrator at the Bath and West Showground which runs events all year round, said they had been given no notice at all – and neither had the AA.
This weekend sees the Motorhome Show at the Showground – one of the biggest motor home events in Europe.
“I have 7,000 motor homes leaving the showground on Monday morning – what are you going to do about them?” he demanded.
Ansford Academy pupils face being stuck for up to three hours a day on buses taking them to and from school via the long detours, the angry meeting heard.
The protesters said while they appreciated the work had to be done to make the bridge safe, they deplored the lack of public consultation.
Shaken rail bosses said the vital repair work had to be done - and closing the railway instead while they did the work was not an option.
But in the wake of the huge protests they said they took on board the community’s concerns - and would review the start date.
A decision is expected by the end of the week.