Sunday, 7 February 2021

Letter re Flooding issued on behalf of all the local Parish Councils

                                                                                                            6th February 2021


This is an open letter regarding the status of flooding, road infrastructure and planning intentions for the area North of Gloucester served by the A417. The road and area fall within the responsibilities and jurisdiction the Gloucestershire County Council, the Forest of Dean District Council, Tewkesbury Borough Council, the MPs for the Forest of Dean and Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire Highways and the Department of Environment. This letter details the facts of the problem and ongoing environmental and economic threats to the area if no coherent plan, by identified stakeholders can be agreed. Discussion and cooperation are required urgently.


For the attention of;

Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon George Eustice MP

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow MP

Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee Neil Parish MP

Conservative Party Co-Chair Rt Hon Amanda Milling MP

Mark Harper MP for Forest of Dean

Laurence Robertson MP for Tewkesbury

Richard Graham MP for Gloucester

Rob Bird - Head of Tewkesbury Borough Council

Tim Gwilliam - Head of Forest of Dean District Council

Mark Hawthorne MBE - Head of Gloucestershire County Council


The area of the A417 in question runs from A40 Gloucester northern bypass at the Over roundabout, transiting north-west through the village of Maisemore, past Hartpury College, through the village of Hartpury, through the twin villages of Corse and Staunton, and connects with Junction 2 of the M50 before continuing to Ledbury. This 10-mile section of the A417 route also serves the adjacent villages of Ashleworth, Hasfield, Eldersfield, Tirley, Corse Lawn, Redmarley D’Abitot, numerous other smaller settlements, light industry, farms and haulage companies. It is the only A road linking the above to Gloucester and onwards to the M5. This stretch of the A417 is also a designated diversion route for M50 closures.



One mile of this road between Over and Maisemore runs parallel to the River Severn and is now subject to increased frequency and duration of closure from flooding. To be clear, ten years ago it did not flood every year, but now floods 3-4 times a year, each of 7-10 days duration, and the trend is increasing.


Closure cuts off direct line of travel for many thousands of residents, causing huge disruption, frustration and financial loss for all concerned. Diverted traffic causes colossal congestion and damage to minor road infrastructure and vehicles, and directly impacts on alternative routes and the populations of the town of Newent and the villages of Highleadon, Tibberton, Taynton, Rudford and Highnam. Placed into context, this issue directly impacts many, many thousands of residents and cripples the entire community and economy of the area. It can take two hours at times to travel eight miles, a loss of valuable time for all concerned, children being late for school, and emergency services being unable to get through - this is but the tip of the iceberg.


The issue is recognised by Gloucestershire Highways who investigated and determined a solution of raising the road and culverting to allow continued displacement of flood water whilst keeping the road open. The cost in 2015 was estimated at £25 million but was rejected on the grounds of allegedly being ‘not deemed good value for money’. This is an extraordinary statement when the aggregated cost to the community, infrastructure and the environment has been considerably greater than this, and still rising.


At complete odds to logic is also the decision by the Forest of Dean District Council to build an additional 4000 houses, either concentrated at Churcham on the A40 or dispersed within neighbouring communities, namely many of those mentioned above. To consider such a plan prior to having a fit-for-purpose road infrastructure is complete madness. The A40 is already subject to considerable delays and the magnitude intensifies when augmented by displaced traffic from a closed A417.



It is only right and proper that a fit-for-purpose road network is provided for the thousands of residents and businesses in this area. Considering the numerous and disparate authorities across the topics and geographical boundaries, and without visible evidence of sound judgment prevailing, this letter implores the Government to act and demonstrate grip before it is too late.


Additionally, I was alarmed to read recent correspondence from Mark Harper MP to constituents, which is quite worrying and demonstrates that he is both being advised incorrectly and is quite disingenuous. More importantly, it underlines again the need for understanding the facts. To quote:


“the works required to raise the road would, I understand, require the A417 to be shut entirely for at least several years.  Several years’ worth of disruption on this scale would plainly not be acceptable to most, if not all, of my constituents.”


This statement is completely wrong. The proposed Highways solution is to build a new parallel raised section of road. There is absolutely no mention, nor has there been mention of closure for the existing road whilst this work is taking place. He continues:


“On average, the A417 at Maisemore is closed by flooding for approximately 2 weeks every calendar year, sometimes more and sometimes less”


Without question, the frequency and duration of closures in the past five years has been considerably greater than this, and the trend is upwards.


We invite a full and considered Government response with a view to finally getting resolution on this significant issue.



Cllr Matthew Fuller, Staunton Parish Council (North), on behalf of;


Maisemore Parish Council

Eldersfield Parish Council

Ashleworth Parish Council

Hasfield Parish Council

Tirley Parish Council

Redmarley D’Abitot Parish Council

Tibberton Parish Council

Rudford & Highleadon Parish Council

Highnam Parish Council

Staunton Parish Council

Deerhurst Parish Council

Apperley Parish Council

Taynton Parish Council

Newent Town Council

Hartpury College

EDIT 7/2/21 -
Hartpury Parish Council removed




David Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Jones said...

I would like to point out that Hartpury PC was originally included in the parishes cited at the end of this letter but was subsequently deleted when it was found out the Hartpury PC does NOT support this proposal. The minutes of the HPC meeting held on 2 November 2020 clearly state:

"The email received from Matt Fuller [sic] regarding the A417 issues was also discussed, the Parish Council agreed that no response from the Parish Council would be submitted as it was felt that the inconvenience was a nuisance but that the money would be better spent improving the roads that are used as alternative routes during the diversions. Individual Councillors are encouraged to respond if they wished to do so."

Perhaps those in Hartpury who disagree with this conclusion would like to lobby their councillors? It's not a case of the money being better spent elsewhere - there presently IS no money.

If Hartpury PC is serious about improving the situation perhaps they'd put forward their own scheme for improving the situation - completely rebuilding Corsend Lane to main road standards to take artics perhaps since it's clearly not fit for purpose as it is? 🙂