Wiltshire political leaders have met with their Bath and North East Somerset counterparts to discuss the impact of traffic measures in the Roman city on Wiltshire roads.
Chippenham MP Michelle Donelan and leader of Wiltshire Council, Richard Clewer met with Bath MP, Wera Hobhouse and leader of B&NES council Kevin Guy to discuss concerns over HGV traffic and its pollution being pushed into Wiltshire.
Cabinet member for highways Mark McClelland met with council director for place Sam Fox, as well as B&NES cabinet member for transport Manda Rigby.
Cllr Clewer had previously expressed dismay at the breakdown in communication with BANES over its decisions and said there was a frank exchange of views but that a positive outcome was reached.
“We tried to get an agreement that we would at least try to talk to discuss things rather than acting arbitrarily, but the proof will be in what happens now,” he said.
“The problem is BANES is on a course of action — I understand why — but it’s not a course of action we can back.”
The Wiltshire Council leader said he did not think the HGV ban of Cleveland Bridge would go through if Wiltshire and Highways England opposed the plans.
Cllr Clewer added that the authorities would work together on a joint submission for the north and south highways programme over the need to address the traffic woes.
“We need to talk more and try to work on a solution that doesn’t move their traffic into our county but helps them deal with their problems,” he concluded.
Wera Hobhouse MP said: “It was good to continue the dialogue and meet with colleagues from Wiltshire and discuss the damage HGVs cause to the Grade II listed structure.
“Both sides listened to each other and I’m glad that we agreed that a long-term solution is needed. We look forward to a receiving an invitation to a follow-up meeting”
B&NES leader, Cllr Guy said: “I was glad to meet with representatives from Wiltshire to discuss the extent of the damage to the bridge and the detriment to our residents health and wellbeing.
“For years HGVs have overburdened the bridge and as stewards of a UNESCO World Heritage asset we must work together to avoid any further damage to the bridge, another full closure is in nobody’s best interests, and would merely buy a bit more time. Cleveland bridge will never be suited to HGV traffic.”
Matthew McLaughlin, Local Democracy Reporter