Melbury Abbas & Cann parish council has admitted defeat in its attempt to force Dorset County Council to stop directing heavy goods lorries through the narrow C13 Shaftesbury to Blandford road.
The council had initiated a judicial review in the High Court in April against DCC’s decision to maintain HGV traffic on the C13 but decided to withdraw its claim last month.
In a statement issued today (4 July), the council said it ‘continues to believe that this [DCC] decision was legally wrong, unnecessarily destructive to the amenity and environment of the villages along the route, and not in the interests of either HGV drivers or Dorset residents.
‘[But] due to constraints on the parish council’s budget, the council has decided that the most prudent course is not to pursue the matter further through the courts.’
The council had raised more than £7,000 through crowd-funding to fight its case but fell short of its £10,000 target. DCC claimed it would have cost the taxpayer £35,000 if it had had to defend the action in court.
Chairman of the parish council William Kenealy said the settlement terms with DCC has meant the council does not have to pay DCC’s legal costs.
But he added ‘the parish council remains firmly focused on DCC’s continued management of HGV traffic on the C13, and in particular, the development and implementation of mitigation measures to address the current problems on the route.
‘Both [DCC’s] cabinet and stakeholder groups have stated that such mitigation measures were fundamental to their approval of the current proposed scheme.
‘The Parish Council will continue to keep under review DCC’s observance of its legal obligations to manage the roads, and reserves its right to take any further legal action in order to defend the interests of its residents.’
Confirming the withdrawal of the legal action, Dorset County Council said today [4 July] ‘routing of HGVs through Melbury Abbas will now continue as agreed by Dorset County Council’s cabinet on 6 December 2017 with an advisory one-way system in place for HGVs travelling on the A350 and C13.
‘Northbound vehicles will be advised and directed to use the A350 and southbound vehicles will be advised and directed to use the C13.’
Councillor Daryl Turner, DCC’s cabinet member for the natural and built environment, said: ‘Our decision on the routing options along the A350 and C13 was sound. We will now continue with our traffic management proposals through Melbury Abbas.’
He said vehicle activated message signs (VMS) will be installed for HGVs travelling through the pinch-point in Melbury Abbas and a new lay-by will be built for drivers to pull in and wait when there is another HGV in the narrow section, with the sign advising the driver when it is clear to move through the section.
This system will work in addition to the current traffic signal control shuttle working in Dinah’s Hollow.
DCC said that work already completed as part of the A350 and C13 route management scheme includes village gateways and new speed limit signs, surfacing and patching work, new hard-wearing lining at Stepleton Bends and an anti-skid surface applied on the uphill section of Spread Eagle Hill for HGVs heading south to Blandford out of Melbury Abbas.
The statement added that DCC is continuing to work with Wiltshire and Bath and North East Somerset councils to push for a long-term solution for the north-south route between the M4 and Poole port.