A COMMUNITY hit by the loss of a key route into town is to receive a cash boost to attract more visitors.

Somerset Council has joined local organisations to support and promote Watchet following the loss of the B3191 Cleeve Hill road.

The council will provide £30,000 to the Watchet Task Force - comprising town council and chamber of trade members - subject to an approved plan of action.

The cash could go on marketing and messaging to highlight alternative routes into Watchet; to show the town is accessible and businesses are open; to support events to encourage visitors, improved signage and longer-term plans for regeneration and recovery.

The council is working alongside the task force, the town’s visitor centre and community-run Onion Collective, and local businesses to support the local economy and residents.

Cllr Ros Wyke, Somerset Council’s lead member for economy, planning and assets, said: “We understand the concerns of residents and local businesses about the impact of the loss of this key route.

“That’s why we are working hard with partners to ensure that together we do everything we can to get the message out there that Watchet is open for business and is a fantastic destination for day-trippers and holiday makers.”

The B3191 on Cleeve Hill is closed indefinitely due to safety concerns following a geotechnical survey looking at serious and significant cliff erosion close to the road.

Inspections revealed further movement is inevitable and it was decided it is unsafe to reopen the road without major intervention.

There are no plans to build a new road that could cost up to £60million.

Cllr Mike Rigby, Somerset Council’s lead member for transport and digital, said: “As well as the impact on Watchet, we know displaced traffic caused by the closure has had an impact on the community around Old Cleeve and Carhampton.

“We’re working with the parish council on a range of measures to encourage responsible driving on these rural roads as well as discouraging HGVs from using them as an alternative route.

“We have to be clear – the road cannot reopen and there is no alternative route planned for the foreseeable future."

Watchet Task Force, and Old Cleeve and Carhampton Parish Councils have been working on measures to support communities, including:

  • £30,000 for a response in Watchet;
  • 30mph markings/signs and Speed Indicator Device warnings for Old Cleeve and Carhampton;
  • permanent B3191 road closure signs;
  • a proposed realignment of Swain Street car park to improve traffic flow;
  • proposed realignment of the road at the entrance to Watchet to direct traffic down Harbour Road rather than Swain Street.

Cllr Sean Terrett, of Watchet Town Council member and chairman of the Watchet Task Force said: “The funding and support offered by Somerset Council has been gratefully received by the Watchet community.

“The task force is looking at ways of securing the existing town infrastructure, maximising the summer season's trading opportunities as well as looking at ways to secure our town’s future trading.”