Decision on dualing major Somerset route delayed until there is a new Government

Somerset residents face a further wait over the future of the A303 because of the general election being called.

Voters will go to the polls on December 12 to elect a new government, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hoping to be returned with a majority so he can pass his Brexit deal.

But December 12 was also the date when residents would be told whether the A303 between Podimore and Sparkford would finally be dualed.

But because of campaigning rules, this announcement now can’t happen until a new government is in place – which, depending on the result, may not happen before Christmas.

The A303 runs across the width of Somerset and stretches through to Dorset and Stonehenge in Somerset.

During election campaigns, the government cannot announce any new policies or spending unless it is a large-scale emergency.

The practice, known as purdah, is designed to stop the political parties currently in power from using their position to sway the electorate into voting for them at this crucial stage.

Highways England, which is responsible for England’s motorways and major A-roads, put forward detailed plans for the dualling which were scrutinised at a series of public hearings earlier in 2019.

The Planning Inspectorate submitted its final report to the government in June after the hearings concluded, with the transport secretary having six months to make a final decision on whether it should go ahead.

But the Department for Transport confirmed on Monday (November 4) that no announcement either way would be made until after the general election.

A spokesman said: “The decision on the A303 dualling will now be postponed until the appointment of a new government.”

The stretch of the A303 in question lies mainly in the constituency of Somerton and Frome, with a small section crossing over into the Yeovil constituency.

Both seats are currently represented by Conservative MPs with large majorities – David Warburton (22,906) and Marcus Fysh (14,723) respectively.

The election campaign will officially get under way when parliament is dissolved on Wednesday (November 6), and will last for around five weeks.