Bypass so close yet so far

Bypass so close yet so far

First published in Wain's World Salisbury Journal: Photograph of the Author by

“Get real”, says a councillor… “a Salisbury bypass will never, ever happen.”

Well, if his disillusion is shared by other local politicians, he’s right.

Because if our representatives aren’t going to fight for something that would transform the city, what hope do we have?

The sad thing is that it so nearly came about 15 years ago. In 1997 the Department of Transport listed a bypass as one of its planned projects for the next decade. But that was just before the general election, and in a constituency visit Michael Meacher (then shadow Transport Secretary) announced that a Labour government would cancel the project (which it did). He thought this would be popular. Not so: unlike most Tory MPs, Rob Key’s vote barely dropped.

Because everyone who lives here knows that an A36 bypass looping across Old Sarum and linked to the A360, A345, A388 and A30 before rejoining the A36 at Petersfinger would rejuvenate the city. It would get rid of the through-traffic that’s choking us to death, and we could at last make proper use of those park and rides. Tourism and local commerce would boom. It’s not rocket science. Look at Oxford, Newbury, Winchester, Dorchester, and Christchurch – all lovely places to visit, and all with bypasses.

The detailed plans already exist. They just need to be dusted-off. But no one’s going to advocate the huge spending involved – least of all in Trowbridge – if our elected representatives sound apathetic.

We’re in a deep double-dip recession and unemployment is reaching unacceptable levels, especially among the young. The only way we can recover is through good old Keynesian economics – public spending on major infrastructure projects. And road-building creates lots of jobs, which creates demand, which creates prosperity.

But we won’t get a slice of the cake unless we fight for a place near the front of the queue. It sounds to me like those who need to get real are our councillors.

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