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Views wanted on 19-week A371 closure for Ansford Bridge repair work

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: September 28, 2012

TOUGH TIMES: Lynn and Wayne Powell, landlords of The Brook House Inn situated on the A371, believe the general public should be invited to meetings with Network Rail officials next month

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Worried residents in the Castle Cary area have until next Sunday to make their views known about a 19-week road closure.

Network Rail plans to close the A371 at Ansford Bridge between January and May next year.

It originally planned to close the road for bridge repairs this autumn, creating a detour of up to 17 miles for motorists.

But it delayed the plans after more than 100 angry business owners and residents confronted network rail officials at a public meeting criticising a lack of notice of the closure.

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Now Network Rail is inviting people with concerns about its delayed closure plans to send an e-mail.

Officials will attend meetings with Castle Cary Town Council, Ansford Parish Council and local business representatives next month. However, the general public are not invited to attend these talks.

Lynn Powell, landlord of the Brook House Inn on the A371, said: “I was under the impression that one meeting would be for local businesses and the other for the local public.

“I think another public meeting would have been a good idea. A lot of people don’t use e-mail and the works will have a detrimental effect on residents as well as businesses, whether it is due to parking problems or parents having trouble getting their children to school.

“I would be happy to take residents’ views to the meetings.”

Janette Cronie, chairwoman of Ansford Parish Council, said: “Network Rail is pulling out all the stops to try to put things right. I’ve been in contact with them everyday and they are really trying.

“This is going to be a huge project, and it’s important that the businesses come to the meetings with clear figures on how much the closure is expected to cost them.”

She said the information could help Network Rail assess the value of possible measures to mitigate disruption caused by the road closure.

“After the meetings it is hoped that there will be an opportunity for the general public to meet with Network Rail,” Mrs Cronie added.

“I think residents should have that opportunity, but as yet, that has not been fixed.”

Robin Basu, Network Rail’s community relations manager for Wales and West, apologised for the handling of its original road closure plans.

He said: “We acknowledge that we did not liaise with the community in a timely or adequate manner.

“Our next step is to give an opportunity for people to share their concerns and provide suggestions on how the impact of the road closure can be minimised.

“Following the two meetings, we will issue information to inform the wider community of specific project details and measures that we will undertake to reduce disruption during the works.”

Residents can submit their views about the new plans to ansfordoverbridge@networkrail.co.uk until next Sunday, or call 08457 114141 to share their views.

The road closure is planned to last from Monday, January 7, 2013, until Friday, May 31, 2013, to allow bridge strengthening to take place.

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