I had to smile at last week’s happy Journal headline saying Wiltshire Council was to look again at the planned upgrades for city traffic roundabouts and junctions. 

The reality is that the finest highways planners in the country could re-design every part of the city’s road system and it would not matter a jot to the continual gridlock and massive overload on Salisbury’s roads.  

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The facts are well known, a half dozen major A road routes all converging on an inner ring road designed in the early 60s for 70s traffic loads, which are now 10 times what was estimated with summer traffic transiting the city for the Southern coast resorts, running in the tens of thousands every weekend from Easter to October.  

An annual load of traffic pollutants in the thousands of tons being forced on the city’s children and the elderly as local politicians look the other way. 

I retired from the Army to Winterslow in 1992 and I remember shortly after there was an exhibition in the library of a proposed bypass which would have run behind Laverstock, however, there was never any political support from either the Tory County Council or any of the city’s political parties.  

Our MP Robert Key was very half-hearted about the whole enterprise and even when he became Roads Minister in the Conservative Government he did nothing to advance the scheme, for one very simple reason, such a project has always been viewed as a vote loser.  

When I became a Salisbury District Councillor I well remember the Leader of the Conservative Group, Kevin Wren, telling me that to propose a bypass was electoral suicide as the Tory vote was based on the home-owning wealthy and the retired who were all against change.  

The current traffic situation is dire and even if every vehicle became electric tomorrow the gridlock would continue and those living in the outer villages would still take an average of 20 to 40 minutes to get into Salisbury. 

Just wait until the new Asda supermarket is built at Bishopdown, this will be guaranteed to bring traffic to a standstill on the London Road approach to the city as well.   

Our current Tory MP Mr Glen is keeping a very low profile on the bypass issue, no doubt in the hope it will go away and he can relax with his huge electoral majority intact, as he too sees this area as a massive vote loser. 

The Tory-run Wiltshire Council is saying nothing with their leader Richard Clewer well aware of the need for a bypass. 

I would suggest that redesigning the city's roundabouts is a bit like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and until a local political leader has the integrity, courage and conviction to push forward a bypass solution the city will gradually grind to a permanent halt under the sheer volume of traffic  in the decades to come.  

Unfortunately I see no such politician in any of the local political parties.   

Chris Devine


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