WEST DORSET: Plans for new route to bypass tragedy tunnel at Beaminster (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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WEST DORSET: Plans for new route to bypass tragedy tunnel at Beaminster
A NEW route linking Beaminster to Crewkerne and the north is on the agenda following the tunnel landslip that buried two people last month.
At a public meeting in the town on Monday Insp Mike Darby from Dorset Police, Alun Morgan from Dorset Fire and Rescue and Matt Jones from Dorset County Council faced a capacity audience in the public hall.
They were there to explain the events on the night of the tragedy and why it took so long to find victims Rosemary Snell and Michael Rolfe.
But it was Mr Jones, county council engineer for bridges and structures, who faced the majority of questions.
The queries raised issues about why the county council had cut down trees that could have kept the land stable or why it had apparently not noticed cracks in the bridge or a culvert draining water from the bridleway onto the soil above the tunnel.
It was this culvert, said an audience member, which caused the landslip and which should have been picked up by county council staff.
Mr Jones said huge files from the council had been sent to the coroner for the inquest and he was unable to discuss details that might form part of his investigation.
He did say that no option – including bypassing the tunnel entirely – was being ruled out.
He said: “We will not be discounting any option. We need to review all options which is why we cannot say how long it is going to be take to fix.”
Residents also wanted reassurance that large and dangerous potholes along the diversion routes, along with new 20mph limit, would be addressed very quickly.
Insp Mike Darby promised speed limits would be looked into as would traffic arrangements for Buckham Fair after there were calls to have the fair cancelled amid fears that the deteriorated roads around Beaminster could not cope with the extra traffic.
Ins Darby said: “If we think it will be too disruptive we may raise the issue of cancellation.”
There were questions about why it took so long to find the bodies but it was clear the audience was not there to apportion blame.
Former MP Sir James Spicer got a round of applause after he said the fire service did a good job and had their decisions been different they might well have been standing trial for taking unnecessary risks.
But he did endorse the plea of residents to put – and enforce – emergency 20mph speed limits on the diversion routes He said: “Sooner or later there will be another accident and someone will be killed.”
BUCKHAM FAIR WILL GO AHEAD
ORGANISERS of Buckham Fair have said despite the closure of Beaminster tunnel this year’s event on August 19 will go ahead.
Philippa Clunes said: “After careful consultation with the highways department and with the help of AA signs we are confident that everything will run smoothly on the day.”
The one-way system will take traffic from the north of the tunnel eastwards along Buckham Down Road – access to this road is from Misterton Cross/Mosterton, via Whitcombe Road in Beaminster or through Broadwindsor and Mosterton.
Visitors are advised to head for the fair in the normal way and follow the special AA signs.
Mrs Clunes said the fair, in aid of Julia’s House, will be the biggest and best yet.