Is Wiltshire Council helping with Marlborough's traffic and parking problems?
We often hear from Wiltshire Council how much their grant from central government has been reduced - which explains their cuts to services like Sure Start, Social Services, the Youth Service and the delays in repairing some of the area's third world roads. They do not shout too much about additional grants they receive...from central government.
This financial year Wiltshire Council has received two extra grants from the Department for Transport. Without going into too much bureaucratic detail, they consist of £2,181,000 from the Local Transport Plan (LTP) and £2,946,000 from the National Productivity investment Fund (NPIF).
Both are capital grants. They may not be very large grants, but they could make a difference to some of Marlborough's traffic problems.
So how and where is this money being spent to improve Wiltshire's roads and transport system? The NPIF spending comes under six headings - shown here with the way Wiltshire Council are divvying up the money:
Reducing congestion & improving safety - £1,021,000: none of the nine itemised schemes are in the Marlborough or Pewsey areas. But there is £246,000 for 'Junction refurbishment at various sites'.
Improving main routes - the full £158,000 goes to the A350.
Supporting Commerce & Tourism - the full £450,000 goes to Salisbury.
Walking & Cycling Schemes - the full £250,000 goes to Chippenham and to the Royal Wootton Bassett-Swindon cycle route.
Rail & Travel Improvements - the full £180,000 goes to Melksham, Salisbury, Chippenham and Wilton - and includes feasibility studies by Atkins on options for improving Salisbury station and creating a station at Wilton. (Wiltshire Council refused to support a feasibility study to put Marlborough back onto the rail system.)
Supporting the Rural Economy - £887,000. There are no specific schemes - just general pots of money for 'Surfacing sites on additional minor roads in rural locations', 'Improving access to the countryside for tourism and agriculture' and 'Verge repairs and improvements to accommodate rural and agricultural traffic.'
Finding money from the LTP grant that might benefit the Marlborough area is a bit more hit and miss. Salisbury's residents' parking scheme gets £37,750 and the Bulford to Amesbury cycle link gets £140,000.
Of £132,000 being spent on school travel plan improvements, the only spend in the Marlborough area is at Baydon St Nicholas Primary School. It gets £2,000 for cycle and scooter storage. There is £100,000 on an 'A345 route study' for 'Implementation of safety measures along the A345'.
We can be sure Marlborough will not be part of the £50,000 'Funding to support the development and implementation of transport projects necessary to support planned growth in Chippenham, Trowbridge, Salisbury and other settlements within Wiltshire.' Why? Because Wiltshire Council is certain that the 168 new homes on the Salisbury Road development will have no impact on traffic using the A346 or traffic in the town.
At this week's Town Hall meeting on the town's traffic problems we heard quite a lot about freight routes - and the fact that Marlborough is not on any of the county's strategic freight routes. That probably means that Marlborough will not benefit from £60,000 towards 'freight management measures' or from the £50,000 budget line that will include support for `Highways England's North-South Links Study'. That might look at de-priming the A346. Then again, it might not.
There is a £250,000 grant to the Area Boards for 'small scale highway improvements' - that comes to just under £14,000 for each Area Board's transport group. And there is £790,000 for 'ad hoc traffic management measures across the county'.
Both of these grants from central government have to be spent during this financial year. If the NPIF money is not spent it must be returned to the Department for Transport.