'Disastrous' B4215 roadworks plan that would have shut road for five months scrapped and reworked as people power wins the day!
The top boss became involved after people decided to fight the plans.
People power has forced a water company into a U-bend over a £5million pipe scheme which would have involved closing a busy Gloucestershire commuter route for five months.
Residents facing detours of up to 50 minutes were up in arms when Severn Trent won permission to close the B4215 between February 14 and July 12 this year.
The water company went back to the drawing board over the proposals to replace over four miles of a 14-inch cast iron water main after residents signed petitions, called public meetings and involved the local MP Mark Harper.
More money was put into the scheme which allowed the engineers to take a different route across private land and around buildings rather than run it along main road between Gloucester and Newent in the Forest of Dean.
Now a full five month closure has been reduced to around five weeks of traffic lights during the less busy summer months.
Trioscope garden centre manager William Ormond was one of the first to speak out about the plans which had already been approved by Gloucestershire County Council by the time residents found out.
“From our point of view it’s a good thing," he said. “A five month complete closure during the spring would have been disastrous for business, but we can live with traffic lights.
“If the work has to be done, it has to be done, but it begs the question why they didn’t do this in the first place.
“People said it was useless trying to fight it but a little bit of public pressure seems to have made all the difference."
Severn Trent boss Liv Garfield met with Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper and agreed to loosen the purse strings if engineers could find an alternative way to upgrade over four miles of ageing water pipes, running alongside the B4215.
Now sections of the new pipe will go through private land and temporary traffic lights will only be needed when engineers have to work on the road.
Gareth Mead from Severn Trent, said: “We’re planning to invest £5 million to install seven km of new water pipes between Gloucester and Newent, to ensure customers have a reliable water supply for many years to come and to reduce the number bursts and leaks in the area.
“We have listened to feedback from the local community, including residents and businesses in the area, and have been in regular contact with Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper, to understand how our plans to carry out this work will impact everyone.
“Mark’s support throughout this process, as well feedback from our customers, to ensure we arrive at a final set of plans that will see this vital work being carried out with the least amount of disruption, has been hugely beneficial.”
The water company will hold a series of drop-in sessions before the plan is completely finalised.
MP Mark Harper thanked Severn Trent chief executive Liv Garfield and her senior team for taking a personal interest and keeping him up to date with developments.
“I am grateful to Severn Trent for listening to the concerns I raised on behalf of local residents,” he said.
“At our initial meeting, they promised to look again at their plans and they have kept this promise. After listening to the community, they have come up with a new plan that is a vast improvement on the original.
Severn Trent is also in the initial planning stages to upgrade its waste water network in the area too, installing new pipes that will take waste from Tibberton to a treatment plant at Newent.
13th June Update -
Severn Trent held a meeting with local councillors last Thursday (13 June 19). They have managed to route the difficult part over farmland but they are planning to work on the B4215 between the Tibberton turning and Trioscape. This has a large verge, as most of you will know, but for a variety of reasons they still need to use control traffic light along that section, for a period of 'up to' 8 weeks from mid-July until into the school term in mid-September. They will be working on the A40 at the same time, unfortunately. These proposals have been submitted to the County Council but have not yet been approved, although this is thought to be a formality because the CC does not apparently scrutinise such applications, as was made apparent at our meeting.
We Expect the road works to begin next week w/c 22nd July causing moderate disruption to travel between Newent & Gloucester.