Election 2015 England

Better rural transport 'vitally important' for Weston's villages

Banwell Image copyright Google
Image caption The candidates highlighted issues with rural transport, particularly in places such as Banwell

Investing in transport infrastructure in Weston-super-Mare's surrounding villages is a key issue for the area, candidates have said.

Liberal Democrat John Munro and John Penrose, Conservative, agreed that transport connections were vital.

Labour's Tim Taylor spoke about quality of life in rural areas.

Richard Lawson, Green, said there were too many empty properties, while Ernie Warrender, UKIP, highlighted new homes being built in already busy areas.

The five candidates were speaking on a BBC Radio Bristol election debate programme.

The English Democrats' Clive Lavelle, who was not at the debate, said traffic problems were "part-and-parcel of being an outlying village".

"Over the years, successive local authorities attempt to upgrade dirt-tracks into metalled roads, then widen them; but there is a limit to how far this process can go," he added.

'Population is aging'

John Monro, Liberal Democrat, said: "There are a number of villages that surround the constituency that are vitally important.

"One of the most important things is making sure the villages are well connected to the town, to allow people to live and work there - to keep the economy within the constituency."

John Penrose, Conservative, added: "I agree about the transport connections. Of course it also means connections into Taunton and Bristol, as well.

"Junction 21 [M5, Weston-super-Mare] is hugely improved but there are further improvements needed on things like our train service."

UKIP's Ernie Warrender said: "I'll touch briefly on Banwell. I mean that's an absolute classic.

"There's just been planning permission granted by the current council for 1,107 houses just down the road.

"If you have ever driven through Banwell, you'd be better off walking. It'd be a lot, lot quicker."

Tim Taylor, Labour, said: "I understand the concerns about new housing [in rural areas] but the population is aging in those villages.

"They have to attract young families and the only way to do that is by building [affordable] housing. Otherwise some of those communities are going to suffer.

"It's [also] about making sure that only HGVs that go there are delivering to local businesses, because the air quality, particularly in Banwell, is quite poor."

The Green's Richard Lawson said: "We need to identify empty properties and bring them back into use. It's win/win all the way around."

The candidates for the constituency are:

Clive Lavelle, English Democrats

Richard Lawson, Green

John Munro, Liberal Democrat

John Penrose, Conservative

Tim Taylor, Labour

Ernie Warrender, UKIP

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