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!