West Dorset Western Area Transport Action Group (WATAG) announces its Annual General Meeting which will be held at 6.30 pm. on Thursday 27th January 2022.
The Agenda will be-
B. Chair’s Report
C. Treasurer’s Report
D. Election of Officers and Committee for 2022
There will be a general discussion afterward, and we are inviting representatives of the main public transport operators to give a brief summary of their activities and to answer questions.
All are welcome.
It is now 2 years since we were able to hold a meeting in public – in fact, it was our AGM and General Meeting held on 23rd January 2020! Since then, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on all our lives, and public transport has been severely affected; indeed I think it fair to say that without Central Government and Local Authority support none of the conventional public transport services – rail and bus – would be operating at the moment. We have decided, once again, not to hold it in public, so this will be a virtual meeting, using ‘zoom’.
We are pleased to attach the seventh edition of WATAG NEWS: The brainchild of editor and Advisory Group member, Billy Shearer, who wrote and produced the first issue in September 2020 and has kept readers informed of transport matters in West Dorset ever since.
We welcome contributions and ideas for the WATAG NEWS and look forward to meeting again in public when conditions allow. Very best wishes for a Safe and Happy Christmas with buses, trains and all other things back better in 2022.
Government-owned National Highways has been accused of selective reporting when defending its controversial tree felling near the old Bridport branch railway bridge at Barrowland Lane, Toller Porcorum (Bridport News, 30 Oct. 2021). The organisation had said it was asked to do the work by Dorset Council as part of measures to stop the bridge being further damaged by tree growth. Moreover the head of National Highways’ Historical Railways’ Estate Programme Hélène Rossiter had claimed that “Any plans to demolish the bridge over Barrowland Lane are currently on hold as part of a national pause on infilling and demolition activity across the HRE.
But local transport campaigners point out that official documents show that National Highways and Dorset Council are working together to demolish the bridge in the near future despite the national pause. A National Highways’ internal paper sets out a “business case” for knocking down the structure even though the bridge “does not require immediate work”. National Highways admits that remedial measures “were not originally programmed for a few more years” but says that Dorset County [sic] Council is pushing hard for complete demolition during the national pause, as part of the Council’s plans to turn part of the old railway line into a travel path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
Bob Driscoll, chair of the West Dorset Western Area Transport Action Group (WATAG), says “It is very disturbing that these public organisations are keeping people in the dark about their true plans. WATAG supports the principle of using the old railway line for active travel. But there is no obvious need for the bridge to be knocked down to achieve this.”
WATAG says that Dorset Council has not consulted with the public or local landowners about the best way to provide access to the new path. The transport campaigners also point out that the new Dorset Local Plan and Local Transport Plan are still being prepared. They argue it is short sighted to get rid of a potentially critical piece of transport infrastructure before these plans are approved.
According to National Highways the demolition and other work asked for by the council will cost around £175 000. WATAG believes that National Highways is keen to press on so it can use money it is finding hard to spend elsewhere during the national pause. The campaigners point out that the National Highways’ business case lists no consultees outside Dorset Council. Bob Driscoll believes this is a deliberate tactic. “National Highways are willing to argue in secret that the council officers ‘are keen to press forward with the works and are happy to write to, or speak with, anyone in order to ensure that the works are not halted.’ It’s a disgrace that neither National Highways nor Dorset Council have been open about their discussions.”
Here is the latest copy of WATAG News, which includes timetable updates, WATAGs proposals to the Back Bus Better scheme, pertinent information on upcoming changes to local transport services plus more!
The link to join the meeting, which will be hosted via Zoom, will be provided on request.
If you would like to table a question in advance, or make a statement – particularly useful if you are a public transport provider – please email these to: email@example.com or phone our chairman, Bob Driscoll, on 01308 425518 or 07856 291891 (mobile). You can also make comment/ ask questions on the night, via the ‘chat bar’.
We are pleased to issue the latest edition of WATAG News, where we highlight Dorset Council’s Bus Service Improvement Survey, easy ways to track your train and bus, updates on local bus and rail services as well as a comparison of public transport provision with our neighbours to the west!
If you are reading online you can click any of the links to take you to the websites mentioned.