The traffic congestion on Taunton’s roads is one of the chief concerns of local people when I listen to them while out in my mobile surgery or when they come to see me at one of the three local advice surgeries I hold every week.

It can sometimes take 20 minutes or more just to get from one side of Taunton to another.

This causes great inconvenience for local people and damages the environment, not to mention that it also hits people in their pocket as it decreases fuel efficiency.

As Taunton grows and realises its potential by developing employment sites in places like Firepool to give local people a higher wage and better quality of life, it will become a stronger economic force in the West of England.

As a Conservative MP with a seat at the top table, I will be able to ensure that Taunton’s potential is maximised.

However, along with this growth will come challenges.

If Taunton’s economy grows by, say, three per cent in a year, traffic congestion is likely to increase by the same amount.

We therefore need a plan, a solution to the current congestion malaise.

But the right solution can never come from the top down.

Local people know what is best for Taunton Deane, and the right solution will only be found by listening to local people so that they become the driving force for local change.

For instance, I have often wondered why there is no plan to site the bus station in the same area as the railway station.

Railways have the potential to solve much of our national transport problem, and surely, siting the two stations near each other ought to be the first step to getting an integrated transport policy for Taunton.

In the past, too many measures have been implemented badly, such as the botched consultation on the new park and ride being built at Henlade.

I believe such decisions should not be taken lightly and they should be generated on a bottom-up basis.

Real local democracy is not just about majority rule. It is about accommodating the views and well-being of substantial minorities in our community also.

That is why some time ago we launched a ‘Save the Great British Pub’ campaign.

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