Barrow Gurney is a small town in Somerset, situated by the banks of a reservoir, and surrounded on all sides by open farmland. It has a traditional village hall, the ‘dirtiest hospital in the country’ prior to its abandonment in 2006, and traffic calming measures that would make a tank pause.
The town has been blighted by heavy congestion over the past few years, with regular travellers using Barrow Gurney’s roads as a shortcut to Bristol Airport. The town has the incredible misfortune to be stuck on the only major road that connects the A370 and the A38, with no other routes within 5 miles of the village green.
As the A38 leads directly to Bristol Airport, the Somerset hub has been much blamed for most – if not all – of Barrow Gurney’s traffic problems. Fortunately, a newly signed contract between the airport and local taxi firm, Checker Cars, could help alleviate rural congestion in a number of small towns and villages in the Bristol area.
Checker Cars will now be encouraged to avoid Barrow Gurney, wherever possible, or risk losing its exclusive contract with Bristol Airport. Drivers must also honour the town’s 20mph speed limit if no alternative routes can be found. The airport’s transport officer, Ian Hiles, hopes that Checker Cars can be instrumental in ‘improving’ local communities.
‘Fuel-efficient’ cars and buses will be added to Checker Cars’ ranks over the coming year, suggesting that Bristol Airport is trying to lose its reputation as an enemy to the rural environment. The airport was recently the target of a campaign by magazine, Beautiful Britain, which implied that an expansion of Bristol’s terminal was being undertaken without regard for public opinion.
The magazine sketched a giant runway in a field beside the M5 motorway. The words ‘Planning Approved’ were stamped across the middle, epitomising the public’s struggle against aggressive expansion.