The road through Cheddar Gorge is to close again over the bank holiday weekend to deter potential breaches of coronavirus restrictions and ease local community concerns.
The move follows the successful closure of the B3135 through the Gorge last weekend (1-4 May) in the wake of reports of drivers speeding along the route, vehicles travelling long distances to reach Cheddar Gorge and worries expressed by people living in the area.
Police and Somerset County Council have agreed the road should close from 6pm today, Thursday 7 May, until 8am on Monday 11 May.
Barriers and signing will be in place on the B3135 at the top and bottom of the Gorge. There will be no access to car parks in the Gorge throughout the closure. The closure order bans all motor traffic, including motorbikes. Local cyclists and walkers will still be able to take their daily exercise in the area.
The County Council’s highways contractor Skanska will be checking the barriers throughout the weekend to make sure they remain in place. Police officers will also be out patrolling the area.
Cllr John Woodman, Cabinet member for highways and transport at Somerset County Council, said: “With fine weather forecast for the Bank Holiday there are concerns that some irresponsible drivers may decide to head to Cheddar Gorge. Public safety is our priority. With our police partners we reviewed last weekend’s closure and know it was welcomed by local residents.
“The great majority of people understand the need to stay at home and save lives during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Superintendent Mike Prior said: “We are glad the closure last weekend was warmly supported by the local community who we are determined to keep safe during this public emergency.
“Thankfully the number of visitors travelling to the Gorge dropped dramatically when the road was closed and no enforcement action was required. We’d like to thank everyone for adhering to the advice and staying at home.
“Regrettably, following the lifting of restrictions on Monday, there were instances of people travelling again unnecessarily, one from more than 100 miles away.
“This bank holiday weekend we want to avoid seeing a large number of cars parked again in the Gorge. Therefore, following a review of the closure’s impact, we are working with the council to close the road again over the next few days. This is not an action we take lightly or routinely.
“We’re quite clear though this restriction is for motorised vehicles and to stop non-essential travel as the Government has set out. This doesn’t prevent people exercising but we are advising people to be reasonable and to do this as close to home as possible. However, the closure does seek to prevent people travelling unreasonable distances and in doing so putting both themselves and other members of the public at a heightened risk.”
Anyone who witnesses an ongoing incident contrary to the Government’s guidelines, should call 101. Information about previous incidents can be made online.