Marlborough's traffic crisis: lots of 'amateur traffic engineers' & a warning from history at town council meeting
The planning committee of the Town Council (October 9) had two proposals before it to solve just two of Marlborough's individual traffic problems. They also heard a dire warning from recent history and a plea for a strategic approach to the town's traffic crisis.
Councillor Andy Ross reminded his colleagues that twenty years ago Marlborough nearly got a fully funded by-pass: "The scheme was pushed away by this council under pressures from nimbys. We must deeply regret that dreadful decision."
Councillor Bryan Castle added: "This council and the community of Marlborough were divided - Wiltshire said 'You don't know what you want - we'll spend the money elsewhere'."
No pressures, then, on councillors to come up with some solutions. Councillor Guy Loosmore was adamant that the situation was deteriorating: "The crisis is on us. There's no strategic thinking as to what this town needs. We've got to start looking at the whole-town traffic situation."
But the committee had two specific issues before them. Wiltshire Councillor Stewart Dobson asked the committee to support schemes for railings to keep HGVs off the pavement in Barn Street and a new mini roundabout at the top of Herd Street. With town council support he could take them to the Community Area Transport Group (CATG).
The Barn Street problem had been raised at the residents town hall meeting on traffic and parking issues. But barriers, councillors learned, are probably not the answer: they have to be put 400 millimetres from the kerb, which would make the pavement even narrower for residents. And, as one councillor mentioned, within days they would surely get trashed by an HGV.
One alternative would be traffic lights at the foot of Barn Street - at a cost of about £150,000. But they would almost certainly have knock-on problems with tail-backs, more pollution and so on.
The views of Councillor Fogg who could not attend were relayed to the meeting: "He wants a proper traffic study done before we start talking about roundabouts - this one could lead to HGVs queuing up on Herd Street." It sounded like a pollution and noise creating nightmare.
This new mini roundabout at the top of Herd Street by the junction that gives access to Rogers Meadow, The Acres, The Thorns and Baywater, would almost certainly be beyond CATG's competence and budget. But the proposal would need to start its journey there before it went into the bureaucratic maze and CATG could pay for an expert study of this problem - if not of the town-wide problem.
However, the idea seemed fit only to solve the difficulties residents had turning out right through the flow of traffic onto the A346 or left down Herd Street. Councillors foresaw many objections to the mini-roundabout and began outlining them - notably the impact on traffic elsewhere in the town.
At which point the Town Mayor, Councillor Mervyn Hall, who is a non-voting member of the committee, intervened: "It seems we have a roomful of amateur traffic engineers. This situation badly needs a traffic engineer - one that carries some weight."
In the end councillors approved a motion: "We welcome as a town all projects to improve Marlborough but as part of a review of the traffic in the whole town." Whether this was a long or short grass way of dealing with the matter remains to be seen.
But the Town Clerk is contacting Martin Cook, Wiltshire Council's Highway Engineer for the area, to ask his advice.