Axmouth HGV protesters win compromise deal

Deal brokered to limit heavy lorry movements through historic village

A COMPROMISE deal has been struck to limit the number of heavy lorries travelling through Axmouth.

Villagers took to the streets in force recently to protest at the safety risks and damage to property from construction vehicles en route to the Seaton Tesco site.

As a result the supermarket chain suspended HGV movements while official sought a solution.

Now an agreement has been reached that a limited number of “Abnormal Loads” will enter and exit Seaton via Axmouth. All other construction traffic for the site will go via Seaton.

The deal was worked out by EDDC, Devon County Council the police and Tesco - brokered with the village by Trinity Ward Member Councillor Ian Thomas.

Announcing the breakthrough a district council statement today says: “EDDC remains committed to the protection of properties in Axmouth, both now and in all future material planning applications for the Seaton Regeneration Site.

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“Acting on Police and Devon County Council Highways advice, it appears that it is not possible to avoid a small minority of vehicles, classed as Abnormal Loads, travelling to and from this site via Axmouth.

“Following last week’s exploratory meeting, it has been agreed by all concerned that only a strictly limited number of vehicles may pass through Axmouth village. These will be escorted Abnormal Loads that the Police and Devon County Council have prohibited from using any other route.

“Tesco has undertaken to supply details of these Abnormal Loads to Axmouth residents, and to Councillor Ian Thomas, EDDC Member for Trinity Ward, so that the village knows when to expect them. These details, together with updates on the progress of the project, will be published on Councillor Thomas’ website

“Councillor Thomas has secured support for this approach from Axmouth Parish Council and a large majority of local residents who were able to attend a hastily convened village meeting on Monday. The unopposed passage of this small number of Abnormal Loads through the village will therefore be secured.

“The haulier remains responsible for properly surveying the route, and ensuring it is safe for the vehicle movements proposed. The haulier also remains responsible for any damage caused during passage through the village, even though operating under police or Devon Highways instruction.

“EDDC’s Chief Executive, Mark Williams, has agreed that this arrangement can take effect immediately and Members of the Council’s Development Management Committee will shortly be asked to confirm it. The first Axmouth trips are expected to be on Wednesday 16 February. EDDC will work with Councillor Thomas and Axmouth villagers to monitor the Axmouth trips, to ensure there is no departure from this agreement or the revised Condition 17 of the Planning Approval.”

Councillor Thomas said: “I am pleased that EDDC has demonstrated an ability to move swiftly, to ensure the best possible continued protection for Axmouth residents and properties during the current pipeline project.

“The generous gesture by Axmouth Parish Council and residents in supporting the variation of ‘Condition 17’ does not detract from our drive to secure an environmental 7.5 tonne weight limit for the route at the East Devon Highways and Traffic Orders meeting on 28 March.

“Rather, the prompt steps taken by EDDC and the Tesco project team, adding additional protection for the ancient village, are strong further evidence in support of our case.

“The safe movement of Abnormal Loads now needs to be delivered on the ground, through close local co-operation between our village community and Tesco contractors. We will work directly with the haulage contractors to ensure that Abnormal Loads do not meet other large vehicles as they navigate slowly and carefully through this beautiful ancient village, past listed buildings lining the route. We will also work to avoid Abnormal Loads passage through the village centre conflicting with school bus or pre-school movement times.

“I’m convinced that the agreement of a reasonable set of Operating Standing Instructions, communicated by Tesco to all contractors working on the scheme, can ensure that this project be completed safely. Perhaps ultimately it will be seen as a model for proper engagement with a small local community that feels under threat from development activities.

“Axmouth Parish Council and I would also like to thank the parish councils of Uplyme and Combpyne Rousdon, sister parishes in Trinity, for their solidarity with strong and public support of the need to protect our village”.

Following a meeting on Tuesday morning with representatives of Tesco, their contractors and the Chair of Axmouth Parish Council, Councillor Thomas added: “The spirit of the meeting was excellent. Transit time windows were agreed for vehicle movements through Axmouth. These may be subject to individual variation to meet operational constraints, but we will be notified where a variation may be required. In normal circumstances no Abnormal Loads will transit Axmouth village before 9.15 am or after 6.30 pm. Restrictions have also been agreed to avoid the early morning and evening school buses from Axmouth, and the pre-school dispersal times.”