Environment

Bad Actors on the Byway

Despite the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order preventing motor vehicles (except for access) from using the St George’s Road byway, drivers continue to use it putting horse riders, cyclists and walkers at risk. The Parish Council asks everyone to report any use of the byway by motor vehicles violating the Order.  These need to be sent to Wiltshire Police via their on-line reporting tool, to Wiltshire Council via integrated.transport@wiltshire.gov.uk and to the Parish Council at byway@semington.org.uk Ideally, the data needed are:
  • Date / time
  • Location
  • Registration number
  • Speed – ok or too fast
  • Whether there was any danger to other users, or any altercation between users

Byway Use Update

The Experimental Traffic Regulation Order on the St George’s Road Byway which the Parish Council and villagers have been calling for is now in operation.  It can run for 18 months and will be monitored by Wiltshire Council’s Highways team. The effect of the Order is to prohibit motor vehicles (except for access) on the complete lengths of byways 21 and 22 (Hilperton) and Byway 9A (Semington).  These files provide more details: the Experimental Notice, and the formal Experimental Order. The Parish Council asks everyone to report any use of the track by motor vehicles violating the Order.  These need to be sent to Wiltshire Police by phoning 101 or via their on-line reporting tool, to integrated.transport@wiltshire.gov.uk and to byway@semington.org.uk Ideally, the data needed are:
  • Date / time
  • Location
  • Registration number
  • Speed – ok or too fast
  • Whether there was any danger to other users, or any altercation between users

Traffic Camera Update

The BBC has the latest news about the installation of a camera at the bus gate to deter drivers going through illegally. The penalty charge notice for any unauthorised vehicle ignoring the bus gate will be £70, reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days.  The installation details are:
  • Installation is due on 19th June
  • Testing by Highways Department is due on 20th to 27th June
  • Camera is due to "go Live" 28th June.

Sewage Overflows at the Somerset Arms

You'll likely have heard about the sewage overflows around the Somerset Arms.  If you'd like to raise the issue with the estate managers, here's a template letter for you to adapt:
To: info@criterionasset.co.uk
Sewage Overflows at the Somerset Arms
Good afternoon.
I am writing to notify you about problems with sewage overflows at the Somerset Arms in Semington.
I understand that Wessex Water confirm that there are no issues with their public foul sewer near your managed property.  As they are not able to work on private foul sewers, clearly the responsibility for sorting out the problem is yours.
The whole village would be grateful if you could arrange for this to happen.
Yours,

Counting vehicles on the byway

As you know, following the Autumn safety reviews carried out on the byway / cycleway [HILP21, HILP22 and SEMI9A], Wiltshire Council is going to impose an experimental traffic restriction order [ETRO] on the track preventing use by motorised traffic, other than for access. This will last for 18 months during which time usage will be monitored.  The full safety report (dated October 2023) is here. It's important that we monitor the use of the track, and so the Parish Council is urging everyone to report any use of the track by motor vehicles.  Ideally, the data we need are:
  • Date / time
  • Location
  • Registration number
  • Speed – ok or too fast
  • Whether there was any danger to other users, or any altercation between users
All violations of the ETRO need to be sent to Wiltshire Police by phoning 101 or via their on-line reporting tool and copied to integrated.transport@wiltshire.gov.uk and to byway@semington.org.uk

Artist’s Impression of the 26 Houses

When the developer which is building the 26 houses to the west of the tennis court came to see the Parish Council, we asked them to produce an artist's impression of what the development would look like from the canal towpath. Click here to see this from the swing bridge.

Changes to the cycleway / byway

Following the Autumn safety reviews carried out on the by-way / cycleway byways [HILP21, HILP22 and SEMI9A], Wiltshire Council intends to impose an experimental traffic restriction order [ETRO] on the track preventing use by motorised traffic, other than for access.  This will be by signage rather than any physical restrictions.  It will last for 18 months during which time usage will be monitored.  The note outlining this is set out below.  The full safety report (dated October 2023) is here.

Good Morning,

I am writing to provide an update following a review of the byways HILP21, HILP22 and SEMI9A which form part of the active travel route between Hilperton and Melksham.  The following sets out the steps taken so far and what will happen next.

Audits

Three independent road safety audits have been undertaken on the Hilperton to Semington cycle route. The most recent being a Stage 4 audit, which is undertaken 12 months after implementation and includes a review of collision data as well as site visits by the audit team. Please find a copy of the audit report attached to this email.

As requested, the audit team were provided with the comments received from residents, users of the route and councillors who have previously raised safety concerns.  The auditors have not raised any concern regarding the surfacing used on the byway or the mixed-use aspect of the route.  The audit notes a collision occurred on the byway between Whaddon Lane and the A361 in August 2023, resulting in serious injury. The review finds that the scheme construction was not a contributory factor to this collision.

Active Travel England inspectors undertook an audit of the whole route, including the byway section, and outlined their findings in a report to Wiltshire Council. This inspection of the route did not raise any concerns about the mixed-use status of the byway or the surfacing used.

Data collection

The data collected in 2023 has highlighted that there has been an increase in vehicle use, however this number is low and these vehicles may have been using the byways for specific access purposes. Pedestrian and cycle numbers also decreased during the 2023 count, however this can largely be attributed to inclement weather on the day of the count.

Reports from byway users received by Wiltshire Council indicate that there is regular use by local 4x4 drivers, with some incidences of poor driver behaviour having been reported to the police.

What happens next?

As a result of the shown increase in vehicle use, Wiltshire Council proposes the introduction of an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) to prohibit motor vehicles from using these routes unless for access to adjacent land/premises. This will be a sign only restriction as any physical barrier would be detrimental to equestrians, cyclists and mobility impaired users.

What is an ETRO?

An Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) is similar to a Permanent Traffic Regulation Order - it is a legal document which imposes traffic and parking restrictions.

An ETRO can stay in force for up to a maximum of 18 months while the effects are monitored and assessed. Feedback is encouraged throughout the process, however, formal comments in relation to the order must be received in the first six months of it coming into operation. ETROs are used to determine if a scheme is effective and allow flexibility for changes.  If changes to an ETRO are made, six months are allowed for public comment from the date those changes came into operation.

A decision on whether the changes introduced as part of the ETRO will be removed or made permanent must be made within 18 months of an order coming into operation. The decision to make a scheme permanent will follow our formal decision making process and be subject to Cabinet Member decision.

Actions for Wiltshire Council. 

Wiltshire Council will take steps to introduce the required signage and promote the ETRO to prohibit motor vehicle use (except for access). It is expected that this change will take place in the Spring. In the meantime, we will be undertaking additional, longer term data collection to gather further information on usage.  This data will inform the decision as to whether the ETRO has been effective and whether it should be made permanent or removed.

Actions for the wider community

We encourage formal comment on the ETRO during the initial 6-month consultation period. Details on how to do this will be provided in the local press, the Wiltshire Council website and advertised on site notices.  Once the ETRO is in place, Parish Councils may wish to promote this to local residents to ensure that all residents are aware of both the restriction and the impact on users of the route should it be flouted.

In addition, once the ETRO is in place, any unlawful use of the route by motor vehicles can be reported. This can be done through the Wiltshire Police online portal or in the first instance, a more local approach may be considered if the drivers are identified as local residents.

Principal Engineer Manager

Wiltshire Council

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The Parish Council will be discussing this at its February meeting; meanwhile, all villagers are requested to continue to report any vehicle use of the track to the Parish Council, and any dangerous use of it to the police.

Fieldfares galore

The pop-up lake in the field at the bottom of Pound Lane hosted a large flock of fieldfares this afternoon, swooping, settling on the muddy edges of the water, and swooping away again.  There might have been redwings in there as well, but it wasn't clear. There are fieldfares in the village every winter, if it cold enough as this one certainly is.  The orchard to the north of the tennis court is favoured ground.  We can expect more over the coming days as they come out of the woods to feed.

Semington salt tip to be sold

Wiltshire Council's new Depot Strategy, agreed at this week's Cabinet (papers are here), means that the salt tip will be closed by 2026/27.  The land will be sold.  It's not yet clear what it will be sold for.  Given that the land is contaminated, options might be limited, but if you have good ideas please contact the parish council. Meanwhile, the parish council will be pressing Wiltshire Council and Cllr Seed for more details of what is proposed, and about clean-up proposals and strategy.