Village set for shutdown

THE heart of Banwell will be off limits to drivers for two months from Monday. Motorists who regularly use the village as a route to commute to work or take children to school will have to find an alternative route for the next eight weeks. The roads whic

THE heart of Banwell will be off limits to drivers for two months from Monday.Motorists who regularly use the village as a route to commute to work or take children to school will have to find an alternative route for the next eight weeks.The roads which will be closed include the main routes through the village - West Street from the Wolvershill Road junction to East Street and Castle Hill from the East Street junction to The Rhodyate.High Street, from the West Street junction to Littlefields Rise, and the entire length of Dark Lane will also be closed.During the two-month closure, North Somerset Council says drivers who would normally travel through Banwell to reach places like Sandford, Winscombe and Churchill should follow a diversion along the A371 past the RAF Locking camp, turn onto Flowerdown Bridge and Herluin Way, then into Winterstoke Road and follow Broadway as far as the roundabout near Weston General Hospital.Motorists are then being advised to drive along the A370, turn onto the A38 at East Brent, and follow the A38.Motorists travelling from places like Sandford and Winscombe to Weston would also find their route blocked at Banwell. They too would have to use the A38 and A370 diversion.A contractor will be carrying out a £175,000 project to install new drains from Castle Hill to West Street Car Park while the roads are closed. West Street and Castle Hill will also be resurfaced and the temporary road narrowing outside the Old Bakery will be made permanent.Wessex Water will be carrying out some sewer maintenance while the road closures are in place and the Highways Agency will be making repairs to Knightcott Bridge.Chairman of Winscombe and Sandford Parish Council's road safety committee, Steve Bridges, said: "I don't think it is going to affect Winscombe so much because if you can't get through Banwell there's not much point in driving through Winscombe."However, I do think the narrow lanes that surround the villages in places such as Barton, Webbington and Puxton will turn into rat-runs and that will be a real worry for people living there."Graham Found, co-ordinator of The Five Villages traffic pressure group based in Banwell, said: "For years we have been told we cannot have anything done in Banwell because it will create problems elsewhere, so it will be interesting to see if problems are created."Although businesses will suffer because there will be no passing trade, I think residents will be able to enjoy their village shops without being afraid of being knocked over."After all, nobody in the middle of the village will be able to receive a supermarket delivery, so they may well have to use the local shops."Residents may have to walk up to a mile for a bus when the roadworks start.Bus operator First this week announced the service it will provide for Banwell villagers during the work.A shuttle service will be in operation from Banwell to Weston, leaving Banwell at 7.02am 8.02am and 9.22am and hourly for the rest of the day. Returning from Weston, the service is also hourly, leaving at two minutes past the hour. The journey is expected to last just under 30 minutes.But the service will only run from Knightcott Gardens, meaning elderly residents living on the other side of the village will have to walk up to a mile to catch a bus.Mr Found added: "We are being given an hourly service when it used to be half hourly. "Everyone will have to make sacrifices for the roadworks but my concern is for the elderly people who will have to walk a mile to catch a bus."n Villagers fear their narrow roads will be flooded with traffic when Banwell's roads close.Residents have told Compton Bishop Parish Council they are concerned the eight-week closure could bring horrendous traffic because motorists will ignore official diversions.They fear roads between Cross and Bleadon, through Webbington and Loxton, will turn into dangerous rat runs.A diversion through Weston and East Brent has been advertised by North Somerset Council.But one resident said at a meeting of the parish council: "We all realise drivers who know the local roads won't go the long way round but will take the shortest possible route.