By Fanny Charles
Villagers joined a protest to improve traffic on the main road through the community.
Local people have dubbed Melbury Abbas the “Village of the Jammed” and they took their protests to town, with a demonstration beside the electric sign by the Tesco roundabout.
Electric signs at the Shaftesbury and Blandford ends of the C13, the road through the village, are a “slap in the face,” said William Kenealy, parish council chairman.
The signs direct southbound heavy goods vehicles to the C13 through Dinah’s Hollow and Melbury Abbas en route to Poole docks. Northbound HGVs are sent to the A350. The signs are south of the Tesco roundabout in Shaftesbury, and on the A350 Blandford by-pass, facing traffic heading north.
Mr Kenealy said: “The new electric signs are a slap in the face, and finally convinced residents we are unable to bring sanity through normal channels after many years, so more publicity and protests are the only options left available to us.”
Melbury Abbas has long suffered from the impact of traffic, with lorries getting stuck at notorious pinch-points, delivery drivers refusing to risk their safety or their vehicles by stopping at houses on the narrowest sections, and constant traffic jams. The numbers of stuck HGVs and traffic tail-backs have not improved, despite the introduction of traffic lights on Dinah’s Hollow.
Mr Kenealy questions both the policy and the cost of the signs. He says: “In the US, where it is easier to find pricing information online, a smaller version of each one of these signs would cost $1,747 a month to rent (£1,352) so I imagine the actual price here is higher. And of course multiplied by two. So an expenditure of at least £2,600 a month for the Dorset rate-payer and to what effect?
“Many local HGV drivers have been told by management that the one-way system is ‘mandatory’ (we know this from drivers’ comments on our Facebook page) while DCC calls it ‘voluntary’ and in fact uses that excuse for not having had to consult with our parish about their installation in the first place.”
The B3081/C13 (Shaftesbury-Blandford) already carries 70% of north/south corridor traffic, predicted to reach capacity in 2026.