This week Highways England has launched its consultation for the upgrade of the A358 from the M5 at Taunton up to the Southfields roundabout. It will be around 8.5 miles of new dual carriageway and part of the wider project to get rid of the stretches of single carriageway across the South West that are the cause of so many delays and safety problems.
The consultation will run until 22nd November and Highways England are hoping to put forward their final plan for Government approval early next year. I know that local Parish Councils and others have already had their say on the plans, but anyone can do so. There will be online and in-person events as well so lots of opportunities to ask questions and engage with the team. Details of all the above are online but if that is not easy for you, please do get in touch with my office and we will be happy to help, or you can call direct on 0300 123 5000. I will be in regular contact with Highways England throughout this period and will keep pressing for this to be thorough and transparent as it’s so important they get it right.
It’s good news that the ban on street drinking in Yeovil town centre is to be expanded to Wyndham Hill which has sadly seen a number of anti-social behaviour incidents this year. We need to get tougher on this problem which has such a big knock-on effect to our local shops and businesses. Often it does require firm intervention to break the destructive cycle for the people involved also. When Parliament resumes next week, I will be relaying concerns to the Home Office and seeing what can be done to streamline the legal processes the Police need to take action against persistent offenders.
The new swimming pool and leisure centre in Chard is due to open in November and I hope the pool in particular will be great for those wanting to exercise over the winter months as well as for local school children. Regeneration of our town centres is still a key priority and projects like this can have a strong effect on the whole area.
I am looking forward to the return of business at the House of Commons next week. The Conference break is always a strange one in the modern era, but I am sure the useful discussions on policy issues will continue in Westminster in the coming weeks. Just to mention two areas at the moment; baby loss and animal welfare are rightly getting a good amount of attention and it’s really positive to promote awareness; opportunities to raise things to the highest level have been fewer than they should be during the pandemic.
With COP26 starting at the end of the month many are concentrating on environment policies and with the UK hosting the international summit there is a great opportunity to show global leadership on clean energy. At the same time though the Government needs renewed focus on the cost to families and individuals especially after the pandemic and that’s a point I will keep making in Westminster.