title="Hinton Charterhouse Parish Council in Somerset"

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News  »  HCPC Response to Variable Message Sign Consultation

   HCPC Response to Variable Message Sign Consultation    29 May, 2014

Hinton Charterhouse Parish Council Response to VMS Proposals for the A36.


The two sites proposed by BANES are marginally better than the clearly dangerous and inappropriate position previously proposed. We are grateful that BANES listened to this Parish Council’s concerns.

Unfortunately, that does not mean that the two sites proposed are supported by Hinton Charterhouse Parish Council (HCPC). Quite the opposite. HCPC would like to make the following general points about the proposal:

The provision of the VMS is claimed to provide ’strategic value’ to the city of Bath. No evidence has been provided of any strategic value or any description of what the value might be. No ‘need’ has been established. HCPC can perceive no strategic value in locating VMS at the sites proposed.
BANES have recently launched a strategic transport review.  Why is this not being reconsidered as part of this?


It is acknowledged that road traffic accidents are largelycaused by distraction and suddenly coming across stationery or slow moving traffic; it seems incongruous with the road safety message that BANES should install a large distraction on an acknowledged dangerous piece of road particularly affected by stationary or slow moving traffic.

HCPC has the following point’s specific to safety:

The safety report appears incomplete, makes no conclusion or statement as to whether the locations are ‘safe’.  Could HCPC see the complete report and the statement that the locations have been deemed safe?
The safety ‘survey’ was conducted for 1 ½ hours late morning. The survey should have taken place during peak usage times.
The safety report does not take into account the recent proposals for a significant housing development at Pipehouse and the additional traffic movement this will bring and potentially the changed nature of the junction.The additional traffic alone will increase the danger to road users in either VMS location.

It is HCPC’s considered opinion that both locations proposed are unsafe to road users of all kinds. HCPC places little or no value in the safety report as presented.

Traffic Flow

HCPC is grateful that concerns over excessive traffic flow onto and along the B3110 are acknowledged and recognised by BANES.  However, the two locations still present issues with inappropriately diverting traffic onto minor roads eitherside of the A36.

The sample messages show examples diverting traffic to the Odd Down Park & Ride. It is impossible to see how drivers will react to these messages and they will inevitably force traffic down Midford Lane and up Brassknocker Hill. Bothare inappropriate routes.

Visual Impact

The area concerned is in the Green Belt and AONB.  This sign is inappropriate for this area especially at a time when the negative visual impact has been recognised by government and the aim is to reduce road side signage not to increase visual pollution.

The Messages

Sample messages deal with safety (aka distracting the driver), diverting traffic onto inappropriate routes or advertising one off events. It is difficult to determine the value this offers the travelling public. The messages indicated emergencies may have some limited validity however from the examples shown they pre-suppose that drivers have instant ‘A-Z’ recall of the streets of Bath.  From the recent Dorchester Street debacle it is obvious that even Bath residents do not necessarily know the name of every road in Bath.

Previous Lessons Learned

The A36 was closed in 2002 and very effective traffic measures were put in place to control traffic in the SE corner of the Bath area.  These measure stretched well south on the A36 and effectively were an early intervention for traffic heading for Bath. The positive lessons learned from this should be used in considering the location of a VMS if indeeda need can be established and one must be provided.

Local Resident Responses (via HCPC Forum)

“I have not seen the actual detail of what it proposed (but have seen others elsewhere which are presumably similar) soam commenting in principle. There is an excess of on-street signage generally.  Illuminated message signs are non-essential.  They should not be placed in rural settings.  The existing direction sign to Pipehouse is over-sized for its purpose and to have a variable message sign in addition will create even more avoidable road-side clutter.”


“We have a number of concerns about the proposed erection of these signs.

1. Are signs of this type appropriate in a rural environment? We feel they are not!

2. Possible distraction of drivers on an already fast stretch of road which may cause the junction of Pipehouse and Pipehouse Lane to become dangerous for traffic exiting and entering these rural lanes.

3. What possible use is it to drivers who are still some considerable distance from Bath some of whom may not even be travelling to the city? Is such a sign really necessary in the first place?  Who has asked for it and what useful purpose does it serve.”


HCPCs conclusion is that any location between Beckingtonand the edge of Bath on the A36 would be inappropriate.  No strategic benefit or need has been established, there are severe doubts about safety and the likelihood is that the quality of life of local residents will be negatively affected with additional traffic being directed onto already overloaded roads.

Experience of those VMSs already erected supports this conclusion.

It is ironic that there is a clear safety message that reading texts whilst driving is dangerous yet the highways authorities are erecting large text message display systems next to dangerous roads.

Hinton Charterhouse Parish Council supports the comments made by Freshford Parish Council, Limpley Stoke Parish Council and the Valley Parishes Alliance.


If a VMS must be installed then the only place that any strategic value can be achieved is at Warminster where traffic can be directed to the A350.

Hinton Charterhouse Parish Council

24 May 2014


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