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Doing nothing about Wem relief road is not 'not an option'

By James Pugh | Wem | News | Published:

Doing nothing is not an option – that is the view of a town’s civic leader who is urging residents to support a new relief road to ease traffic problems.

Councillor Edward Towers

Councillor Edward Towers, mayor of Wem, has warned problems with large amounts of traffic going through the town centre will only get worse as it the town develops.

Town councillors, backed by North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson, now want to see a new relief road around the town be built.

Residents in the parish will be able to have their say on the prospect of a relief road in a survey as part of Shropshire Council’s Local Plan Review.

“Wem has increasingly been experiencing difficulties over the last few years with regard to the movement of traffic through it’s medieval street layout,” Councillor Towers said. This has been all the more difficult as the size of buses, cars and lorries – many essential for the economy of the town, have grown.

“The narrow pavements have in turn become more unsafe for pedestrians and given rise to considerable public concern and put the economy of the town in jeopardy.

“Various ways of alleviating this stress are now being explored with Shropshire Council but one measure that has come to the fore has been this summer’s announcement by Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport that a sum of central government money was being put aside to help market towns who were in need of relief roads to boost their flagging economies.

“With the active support of our MP Owen Paterson, after two previous start/stop attempts in the town years ago, the townspeople of Wem are about to be asked for their support before the end of 2017 for such an ambitious project.

“This will be the vital first step needed in presenting a united case for financial support from Shropshire to government in Westminster. This project has the power to reverse the damaging trend to Wem town centre as well as re-ignite it’s economy.”

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On Friday, Mr Paterson organised a meeting with representatives from Wem Town Council, Wem Rural Parish Council and Shropshire Council about the proposal of a relief road, which is in its early stages.

Councillor Towers said: “We met to discuss the ongoing well-reported highways issues that daily impact the life of all living in and around Wem.

“All present not only clearly stated their position as they saw things but demonstrated they understood the problems being faced in Wem. They also realized the importance of working together to present a united case to Chris Grayling in Westminster if any government support is to be found to address them.

“As time is now of the essence for any further forward planning to happen, the importance of consulting all who live in Wem and Wem tural areas in the next few weeks to gauge their support cannot be emphasised too much.

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“What is needed is a large response a clear view supporting the views that their local councillors have now arrived at after many hours/years of wrestling with how best to resolve these highways issues.

“It is realised that to do nothing is not an answer as more development will inevitably take place under Shropshire Council revisions to its local plan for additional housing up until 2036; leading to ever increasing congestion in Wem streets amongst other things.

“The closing date for responses is December 4 and then, following analysis of the results, a further meeting with Owen Paterson and the council representatives above is planned to take place in early January 2018 to determine the next steps to take in resolving these pressing issues.”

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Chief reporter at the Shropshire Star covering north Shropshire based at the head office in Ketley.

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