Cut-Off From Shrewton – No Rat-Running Tonight!

Those of you who heeded the warnings and stayed tucked up in doors over the last 24 hours may not be aware that we have been pretty much cut-off from Shrewton.  Here are a few photographs taken by a lovely chap, Matt Bennett, early this morning showing the snowdrifts on the B3083 beteeen here and Shrewton.

Heading up the A303 and then onto the A360 hasn’t been a much bettter prospect for most of the day – it’s been closed both north and south of Longbarrow roundabout.

This also shows that the B390 eastbound, from Chitterne to Shrewton, is also closed.  With problems further west on the A303 and A36 at Deptford and further east on the A345, it’s been an interesting day.   One thing is very clear.  It’s very unlikely that there will be any rat-running through Shrewton tonight.

Take care if you plan to go out shopping first thing on Saturday morning, just in case there have been low temperatures overnight making things icy.

Onboard and Online: The Annual Parish Meeting

The agenda for the Annual Parish Meeting, which will be held on Monday 26th March 2018 in the Education Suite of the Stonehenge Visitor’s Centre can be found here.

The Annual Parish Meeting, which has to be held between March and June,  is normally the one opportunity during the year when we can all discuss issues of interest to the electors of the parish.  At Parish Council meetings, the legal format is such that parishioners can raise questions, but debate and discussion isn’t entered into.

Clearly, with the A303 Stonehenge Scheme Public Consultation coming to an end in early April, we felt it essential to hold the Annual Parish Meeting in the same time period, to allow you all to discuss your views in public and give the Parish Council a better idea of the collective views and concerns of the village.   These will be reflected in the formal response the Parish Council makes to the consultation process.  We hope you have either already taken the opportunity to go and see one of the Highways England presentations on their plans, or plan to do so over the next few weeks, and will come to the meeting armed with points and ideas that will minimise the impact of the scheme on the village and villagers:

  • between now and the start of construction;
  • during the construction process;
  • following completion of the scheme.

The meeting will start with a 20 minute presentation by Highways England to set the scene, followed by the Chairman highlighting any issues relating to the scheme (and there are several) that have already been brought to our attention and that will be referred to in the Parish Council response.

From that point onwards, the meeting will be opened up to Electors of the parish.   We hope you will come along and participate.  We hope it may help you identify issues that you want to raise with Highways England yourselves in your own responses to the statutory consultation.

The March meeting of the Parish Council will follow the Annual Meeting of the Parish.

A list of the remaining Highways England drop-in events is shown below:

Tuesday 27 February 2018 14:00 to 20:00 The Laverton Hall Bratton Road, Westbury, BA13 3EN
Thursday 1 March 2018 14.00 to 20.00 Mere Lecture Hall Salisbury Street, Mere, BA12 6HA
Saturday 3 March 2018 11.00 to 17.00 The Guildhall, Salisbury The Market Place, Salisbury, SP1 1JH
Thursday 8 March 2018 12.00 to 20.00 Society of Antiquaries Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BE
Friday 9 March 2018 14.00 to 20.00 The Manor Barn High St, Winterbourne Stoke, SP3 4SZ
Saturday 10 March 2018 11.00 to 17.00 The Manor Barn High St, Winterbourne Stoke, SP3 4SZ
Tuesday 13 March 2018 14.00 to 20.00 Avon Valley College Recreation Road, Durrington, SP4 8HH
Wednesday 14 March 2018 16.00 to 20.30 Larkhill Primary School Wilson Road, Larkhill, SP4 8QB
Friday 23 March 2018 14.00 to 20.00 Antrobus House 39 Salisbury Rd, Amesbury, SP4 7HH

Pedestrians, Yes! Cyclists, Yes! – But What About The Horses?

When the Chairman of the PC attended the inaugural meeting of the A303 Stonehenge Community Forum, he met Myra Bennett, the British Horse Society’s County Access Officer for Wiltshire, and they agreed to meet up earlier this week for further discussions, as it seemed likely that their interests might align with those of the village and many of the villagers.

Since that meeting, Myra has provided us with an open letter, which can be found here in the “Notices” section of the website.  If you walk out of the village, ride a bike, or ride a horse, we would strongly suggest you have a look at what the British Horse Society has to say.

On the Wiltshire Council mapping above, footpaths are in purple, byways are brown, restricted byways in red and bridleways in green.

One of the greatest problems we have, as a village split by the A303, is safe access onto byways.  There are no byways that leave the heart of the village and head south.  The only strictly legal options in that direction, are to head out east or west onto the A303, before cutting back south on byway WSTO6A,  past Hill Farm, or south along the B3083 towards Berwick St James; less than ideal for cyclists – especially children – or equestrians.

Options for going north are not a lot better.  You first have to negotiate the A303 – difficult when there is a lot of traffic and dangerous when it is speeding through.  You have three alternatives – of sorts.  You could try byway WSTO3, from just oppoite the northern end of the B3083 Berwick road to a few hundred yards up the B3083 to Shrewton – good luck!  You could ride north on WSTO4, past Foredown House and onto either byway WSTO6B, or byway/bridleway WSTO5, north westwards Shrewton, but both these routes bring you out on the A360 at Rollestone – hardly a relaxing place.  The truly brave (some might say foolhardy) pedestrian, cyclist or horse rider, might – once they have found a route to WSTO6A, try crossing the A303 east of the village, through the small gate in the hedge on the northern side and onto WSTO6B which joins on to the two previously mentioned routes to the northwest.  Whilst you occasionally see a walker using this route and rarely, a mountain biker,  we’d never spotted a rider in over 30 years,  until this morning.  It was heart stopping to see a clearly spooked horse being led across to the south, with a juggernaut bearing down from the east at high speed…

Given all of the above, plus the fact that all new road schemes are meant to be equestrian friendly, you’d have though that Highways England might have tried a bit harder than they have.  We’ve prepared the map above based on the one provided by Highways England in the consultation document.  We have identified paths and byways using the Wiltshire Council numbering scheme in red and key points at junctions etc, with blue letters.  You can get copies of this map here as a PDF File and here as a PNG file.  We hope you will use this as a common scheme in your own responses to Highways England.  It will also make it easier to discuss things with other villagers.

Here are a few points to ponder when you are responding to the public consultation:

1. Although a pedestrian and cycle route is proposed between points A and T on the map above, along the course of the “old” A303.  Highways England don’t propose it being available for equestrians.  It needs to be a restricted byway;

2. They propose to run this pedestrian and cycle track on the northern side of the “old” A303 from P to S – the southernmost of the two new roundabouts at Longbarrow.This means that you would have to cross the “old” A303 into the village right next to what is going to be a very busy roundabout; not very clever.  This could be avoided completely by moving the footpath to the southern side of the A303, reducing the width of the current road to achieve traffic calming and avoid the need for a land take.

3. Worse still is the proposed crossing of the A360 to join up with Green Bridge No.4 and into the World Heritage Site.  According to Derek Parody of Highways England, it’s going to be at level, no underpass or overpass.  So, we are going to be dodging the traffic travelling at high speed to and from the direction of Salisbury – if that is allowed to happen.

4. We’ve also been made aware of the likelihood that the livery at Scotland Lodge could be cut off from its usual exits to points north during the construction phase – possibly for several years.  As it stands, and with no alternative that we are aware of offered, that seems completely unacceptable.  One option might be to construct the new proposed byway from A to G over the proposed Green Bridge 1, then from G to D ,as an “advance work” to give Scotland Lodge, and others, a hacking route out of the village before their northern exit is closed off.

5.  That said, the long-term use of the proposed Green Bridge 1 is likely to prove highly contentious.  It may act as a magnet to a host  of undesirables from outside the village.  On the other hand, the old section of the road from A-B might be a potential site for some legacy features for the village and wider community.  Lots of opportunities for discussion here and many issues to consider.  For instance, how do farmers get to fields north of the A303 if there is no permanent crossing at A to G?  One option might be an entrance off the B3083 at H and a track between H and G.  Of course, Green Bridge 1 is also meant as a bat crossing…

6. There’s then the issue of BSJA3 which currently opens onto the A303 at E.  That clearly isn’t going to be acceptable. So, what happens to farm traffic wanting to join the A303?   Presumably it will be expected to travel west from E to D at Yarnbury Castle, but what then?

7. Already, crossing from SLAN3 at D, north onto BSJA4 is very dangerous – even with a central divide.  The route is used regularly by pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians, farm-vehicles, the Army, off-road motorcycles and 4x4s. The traffic on the A303 is currently either at a standstill or travelling at high speed, but in the future it will (hopefully – given all the grief we are going to have to suffer!) all be travelling at high speed.  Consequently, given the need to cross north to south and the danger of doing so at grade, a proper crossing is needed.  One option might be to close both exits onto the A303 and move Green Bridge 1 further to the west from G to D; thereby solving two problems.

This is only scratching the surface and there are likely to be many more issues associated with paths, byways and bridleways.  Villagers: please use the forum pages to discuss these issues or to add more to the list. You can also come along to a Parish Meeting in March (details to be announced soon) to air your views.

A303 Stonehenge Statutory Consultation Documents

We have provided the two key documents for the A303 Stonehenge Scheme Statutory Consultation in the “Documents” section of this website.

The first of these is the e-version of the Public Consultation Booklet – February 2018 – Click the link to go straight to it.


The second is the Consultation Response Form.

Both of these will be available in hardcopy from the various briefing meetings, in local shops and doctor’s surgeries and, we hope, Stonehenge Filling Station.  Please can you ALL make individual responses to Highways England in addition to the one that we, the Parish Council, will submit collectively, based on the feedback we receive from villagers here online, in hardcopy and verbally.

We wouldn’t presume to tell you how you should respond to this consultation.  In any event, your personal and unique views and perspectives on the issue are likely to carry more weight than are multiple versions of a single statement.  That said, we will be happy to point you in the direction of any factual information we may be aware of and, if necessary, try and help you make sense of it.   The information being released by Highways England will be found here.

Onboard and Online: A303 Stonehenge Scheme Community Forum

Last week, Highways England launched the A303 Stonehenge Scheme Community Forum at a meeting in Amesbury.  This is one of a number of fora that have been set up, others we understand are for local landowners, farmers, businesses , etc.  The Community Forum covers not only Parish Councils, but established groups like the British Horse Society, the Bustard Trust,  the Campaign for the Preservation of the Lower Till Valley and the Stonehenge Traffic Action Group that operate in the area of the new road scheme.  Darren Henry as the Wiltshire Council representative for the Till and Wylye Valley is also a key part of the group.

The forum is designed to act as an information conduit from Highways England to the local community and vice-versa.  It looks as though it will address virtually anything and everything that is raised by the community, including issues that arise after the formal consultation period has ended.  It will deal with legacy issues, that will be very important to Winterbourne Stoke,  and which don’t form part of the formal DOC process.

Time will tell if this is a realistic goal, whether it’s overly ambitious. That said, it was quite clear from the tone of the meeting that community representatives want to use the forum to hold Highways England to account.

The forum will not generate minutes, but there will be action points arising from the bi-monthly meetings.  The first meeting was largely taken up with representatives identifying their areas of interest and concern and establishing how the forum would move forward.

The forum is likely to be long-lived – it was suggested that it might be needed until 2026 or later and its current terms of reference can be found here.

If you wish to help us to contribute to the Community Forum, please either join the website forum and add your thoughts to that, send an email or letter to the clerk, or speak to a Parish Councillor.

We are particularly interested in the following things, over and above the actual design and mitigation features of the new road:

What could Highways England do in advance of, and during, road construction to minimise the impact to us and other local communities?

What are our key legacy issues (eg. village infrastructure, non-vehicular connectivity with other local communities and areas such as the World Heritage Site).

There may be other topics that are of general, or specific interest that we have overlooked, so please get your thinking caps on!


Onboard and Online: Drop-In Events for the Statutory Consultation for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge) Scheme

As part of the consultation process for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge) Scheme, Highways England will be holding a series of public drop-in events where you can find out about the scheme plans and talk to their project experts. Everyone is welcome to these; please feel free come along to make sure you get the latest, most accurate information about the scheme and ask any questions you may have.

Date Time Location Address
Friday 9 February 2018 14.00 to 20.00 Antrobus House 39 Salisbury Rd, Amesbury, SP4 7HH
Saturday 10 February 2018 11.00 to 17.00 Antrobus House 39 Salisbury Rd, Amesbury, SP4 7HH
Thursday 22 February 2018 14.00 to 20.00 Kennet Valley Village Hall (Avebury) Overton Road, Lockeridge, Marlborough, SN8 4EL
Friday 23 February 2018 14:00 to 20:00 Warminster Civic Centre Sambourne Road, Warminster, BA12 8LB
Saturday 24 February 2018 11.00 to 17.00 Shrewton Village Hall Recreation Ground, The Hollow, Shrewton, SP3 4JY
Tuesday 27 February 2018 14:00 to 20:00 The Laverton Hall Bratton Road, Westbury, BA13 3EN
Thursday 1 March 2018 14.00 to 20.00 Mere Lecture Hall Salisbury Street, Mere, BA12 6HA
Saturday 3 March 2018 11.00 to 17.00 The Guildhall, Salisbury The Market Place, Salisbury, SP1 1JH
Thursday 8 March 2018 12.00 to 20.00 Society of Antiquaries Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BE
Friday 9 March 2018 14.00 to 20.00 The Manor Barn High St, Winterbourne Stoke, SP3 4SZ
Saturday 10 March 2018 11.00 to 17.00 The Manor Barn High St, Winterbourne Stoke, SP3 4SZ
Tuesday 13 March 2018 14.00 to 20.00 Avon Valley College Recreation Road, Durrington, SP4 8HH
Wednesday 14 March 2018 16.00 to 20.30 Larkhill Primary School Wilson Road, Larkhill, SP4 8QB
Friday 23 March 2018 14.00 to 20.00 Antrobus House 39 Salisbury Rd, Amesbury, SP4 7HH

You can also view scheme information at the locations below during normal opening hours:

  • Amesbury Library, Smithfield Street, Amesbury, Salisbury, SP4 7AL
  • Tidworth Leisure Centre, Nadder Road, Tidworth,SP9 7QW
  • Salisbury Library, Market Place, Salisbury, SP1 1BL
  • Wiltshire Council Offices County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN
  • Wilton Library, South Street, Wilton, SP2 0JS
  • Devizes Community Hub and Library, Sheep Street, Devizes, SN10 1DL
  • Marlborough Library, 91 High Street, Marlborough, SN8 1HD
  • Warminster Library, 3 Horseshoe Walk, Warminster, BA12 9BT
  • Westbury Library, Westbury House, Edward Street, BA13 3BD
  • The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Cocklebury Road, Chippenham, SN15 3QN

You may well have followed earlier versions of this scheme. Some of these will have had different approaches and processes, or been governed by older legislation. Highways England have put together a clear guide to the planning process we’re following: this explains exactly what happens, when, and how you get can get involved.


Onboard and Online: Highways England Community Forum (A303-Bypass)

Those of you who keep an eye on the Salisbury Journal may have picked up on Highways England’s plans to set up a Community Forum to engage with those bodies and, possibly, some specific individuals who might be able to contribute too it.   Understandably, it isn’t open to everyone, as that would have been too unwieldy and would have been a nightmare to organise.

The Parish Council will be represented on the Forum, which meets for the first time, in Amesbury, on Thursday 1st February 2018; although we have not yet received a formal confirmation of this from Highways England.  Back in September, you will recall their arrangements were equally chaotic and last minute.   More importantly, we haven’t yet see Terms of Reference for the group, or an Agenda for the forthcoming meeting.  As soon as we do, we will make you aware of as much as we can through the medium of this website, with key bits of information (such as this notice) posted on the village noticeboard.  Please be aware that there may be too much information to make it all available on the noticeboard, so please ask a Parish Councillor to help you get access to it if you don’t have your own internet connection.

We understand that one of the key things that Highways England want to use the Forum for is to understand what they term “legacy issues”.   This means the sorts of things they can do mitigate the effects of road-building and the road on the local community.   These are likely to impact on issues at all levels.  Some will affect the whole community from Amesbury to Berwick Down and a mile or two north or south,  some will affect Winterbourne Stoke and Amesbury lying on the direct path of the A303, others will affect villages further north and south of the road and others will affect those with businesses (farms, pubs, petrol stations, etc) lying on the path of the road.   The Parish Council is likely to wish to have input on most, if not all, of these (the exception might be those issues that ONLY effect those communities outside the Parish) and we wish to put forward the consensus view of the village.

When it comes to the village, based on what has happened during other roadbuilding schemes, it might be possible to get Highways England to assist with schemes that a small village like ours might otherwise be unable to afford; for instance by making use of unused or unwanted construction materials that might otherwise cost money to remove from site. The trpes of schemes we have had suggested by villagers already include:

  • A small, multi-purpose “village hall” or room (s) that could be used for meetings, small events, changing room, etc.
  • A playing field/football pitch/events area
  • Village allotments
  • A village orchard
  • A new wood
  • Narrow the A303 east of the village up to the new connection with the A360, construct a protected (ie physically separated) bridle path/cycle trail that links directly to Stonehenge without the need to cross the A303, or the A360, at grade.
  • Create green bridges (rather than conventional bridges) across the new A303 wherever Byways cross the road within the Parish and eastward to Stonehenge.  These encourage the movement of wildlife and people in the landscape.
  • Help in promoting new businesses and diversification of existing ones; if needed.

The idea being to make use of land freed up by the removal of the A303 to the west of Scotland Lodge Farm and the route to the east of the village.  We suspect that there are many other ideas out there and we want to hear them.

Please don’t add your ideas as comments to this post – they will be deleted!  Instead, pop across to the Forum (register if needed) and add your comments here:  How Can the Village Benefit From the Bypass

If you want to have a say, but don’t want to do it online, please just pass your point to the Parish Clerk, or a Parish Councillor, in writing.

The Saga of the Pedestrian Crossing on the A303

As most of you will be aware, the pedestrian controlled crossing on the A303 was put out of action around the time of the summer solstice by a less than attentive car driver.  It was clear that replacing it was going to take a little while, as the Siemens control box was crushed out of all recognisable shape.

It is fair to say that Highways England were fairly quick off the the mark in installing a set of temporary lights, but first managed to create a traffic hazard with them and then managed to block the pavement.   Worse still, the batteries failed every couple of days and it took a few more days for them to be replaced.   Eventually, these lights were replaced by a smaller, yellow set.  Not small enough, as one of them was destroyed by a passing truck after only a few days.  At least the batteries seem to last a bit longer…

The Parish Council, along with some of you, have been chasing Highways England since the outset for updates, using the only routes available to us – Highways England’s generic email address and 0300 telephone number, with absolutely no response.  We raised not only the pedestrian crossing, but the general state of the road, the “Keep Clear” box at the end of Church Street and a collapsing fibre duct close to the western gate of Manor Farm (having just got superfast broadband in the village, it would be rather ironic if these trunk fibres were cut or damaged!).

Wiltshire Council also approached Highways England on our behalf – and as far as we know met with a similar lack of response.  John Glen MP was also copied into some of the correspondence, but even that didn’t seem to help.

At the start of September, we got hold of the email address of the CEO of Highways England, Jim O’Sullivan.  At first, this seemed to get a reaction and the complaint was passed to the High Level Correspondence Team, we were promised an update within 15 working days and of course – absolutely nothing happened.  When the second light was hit on 5th September, we wrote to him again – still nothing. So, the CEO of Highways England didn’t appear to be able to get an answer out of his own employees.

At the start of October, after many more fruitless emails and phone calls, we wrote again to Jim O’Sullivan and copied our email to BBC Wiltshire – which is why Andy was at the end of Church Street with a reporter at 7:00am last Tuesday.   Oddly enough, with the threat of publicity in the air, Highways England managed to produce an update and projected timescale for repairs for the BBC, within a few hours.  As Andy said on the 7:30am news when first told of this – “…this wouldn’t have happened without the intervention of BBC Wiltshire.  Thank you BBC!”

Finally, today, we got a formal response from Highways England.   This is what it says:


A303 Winterbourne Stoke

Nick Harris
Operations Executive Director Bridge House
Walnut Tree Close

6 October 2017

Thank you for your recent correspondence addressed to Jim O’Sullivan, regarding your concerns with the maintenance of the A303 in Winterbourne Stoke. I have been asked to reply to you as this issue falls within my area of responsibility.

Please accept my apologies for the delay in dealing with your concerns. I understand Tim Ashton, the Business Services Team Manager in the South West, has made contact in this respect; I would like to reaffirm our commitment to improving the quality of our service in the future.

We understand the important role the pedestrian crossing plays in keeping road users safe in Winterbourne Stoke. Following the damage to the traffic signals, the installation of temporary signals has been particularly challenging. The width of the road and pavement provide very little space to safely site the equipment. We have tried as far as possible to limit the potential obstruction to both the carriageway and footpath. Installation of the permanent signals is currently scheduled to take place on 18 and 19 October.

We have investigated the lack of a response to your reports of the defective pavement. An administrative error prevented your report from reaching our maintenance team, for which I sincerely apologise. We have taken steps to ensure the error is not repeated. A maintenance service manager will be visiting the site today to carry out an inspection and arrange for any necessary repairs.

The road surface through Winterbourne Stoke is subject to regular inspections to identify defects which may need attention. Priority is given to any defects which are causing an immediate hazard, with other issues being prioritised based on their severity. We also seek to coordinate and combine works where we can to minimise the impact on road users and the local community.

We have identified that the eastbound lane of the A303 requires resurfacing as its skid resistance is starting to deteriorate. This work is currently scheduled to be carried out in February 2018. While we have no current plans to resurface the westbound lane in the immediate future, we are looking into the feasibility of refreshing the “Keep Clear” road markings.

Yours sincerely

Nick Harris
Operations Executive Director

So, there you have it.   Of course, the temporary lights have failed again today and it has proved impossible to contact anyone by phone…

A final thought for you all.  Highways England are the body charged with organising the construction of the bypass and the Stonehenge Tunnel, possibly the UK’s most sensitive road scheme of all time, of commissioning it and running it when complete.   Their seeming inability to repair a damaged set of lights, or even give an early indication of when that might be achieved, hardly fills one with confidence they can cope with a bigger issue.  Completion of the repair on 18-19 October might help restore confidence, a little.

What Lies Beneath?

Earlier on today,we noticed that Wiltshire Archaeology were back in the recently harvested field between the Berwick St James road and the River Till.  When they were last there, back in the spring before the Oilseed Rape had even sprouted, they were conducting a magnetometer survey to see if there was anything of interest in the ground that could impact on plans for a southern bypass route for Winterbourne Stoke.  Today, they had upped the ante, and were using ground penetrating radar (GPR) – a technique that can, depending on the terrain and soil composition, look deeper in the ground than magnetometry and also establish the depth of buried archaeology.

We have to ask ourselves: “Why?”

Speculation is all we have for the moment, which isn’t ideal, but there would seem to be two likely situations.  First, that the magnetometer survey found nothing and the GPR survey is something of a belt and braces activity to double-check; as once covered by a dual carriageway if the Southern route was selected, it wouldn’t be possible to look again. So it’s being done for completeness.

Second, the magnetometer survey found something interesting and they are now back for a more detailed look.  Time will tell.

The only certainty is, that along with all the other archaeology and environmental surveys for both the northern and southern routes that have been undertaken on behalf of Highways England for the A303 Stonehenge to Berwick Down Scheme, all the results SHOULD be made public.


Mended Stile

We are delighted to be able to say that the stile into the meadow at the southern end of Church Street has now been mended, and very robust it now looks as well.  For the first time in many years we have an upright that is tall enough to provide some useful support, nice thick treads that don’t flex as you stand on them and rounded ends so you don’t gouge your shins or knees on the corners.


Thanks to Druid’s Lodge Estate for fixing it so promptly on this occasion.  Wiltshire Council have been advised of the repair.