It is dangerous to speculate about the experiences of large numbers of people you have never met; but I would be willing to make a small bet that almost all the readers of this column will at some time in the not too distant past have experienced some form of disruption to their travel around West Dorset as a result of a traffic incident of some kind – snow, flooding, accident, or just plain traffic jam. Our rural roads are mercifully a great deal less prone to disruption than many city streets. But they do nevertheless become impassable for all of these reasons from time to time – and it is infuriating when it happens.
I don’t know how many readers of this column regularly use the BBC’s excellent Travel website as way of finding out in advance about traffic problems at particular locations. But I would be willing to hazard a guess that those who do use the service find it a very helpful means of minimising disruption. Often enough, especially in a rural area like ours, knowing about incidents and their effects in advance is enough to enable you to plan a smoother route and avoid the infuriating hold-ups which would otherwise occur.
It was therefore with some surprise that I discovered, this last week, that the BBC is intending to bring this service to an end on 20th February. I gather that there was in fact some consultation about this – and perhaps others were aware of it – but, for some reason, it passed me by and I have only just now become aware of the situation.
It seems that there will continue to be certain amount of information relayed via the BBC’s ‘Local Live’ service. But, alas, at least so far as West Dorset is concerned, this service is less comprehensive, less detailed and less easily accessible than the travel website which is now due to close.
I have written to the Director-General of the BBC, asking him to reconsider this closure. Perhaps readers who have found the website useful might think of doing the same? (He is: Lord Hall of Birkenhead, Director-General, BBC, Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA).
I imagine that this may be particularly relevant for those living in the Bridport area – because traffic in and around Bridport is heavily-affected by incidents that affect the traffic flow along the A35 – which is, of course, notoriously prone to causing long delays under certain circumstances. This is just the sort of thing that the BBC website has been good at helping people to avoid.
But, for those living in and around Sherborne, there is also much merit in the website – because, although the A37 and the A30 are traditionally less prone to major delays than the A35, there have been – as we all know – some pretty serious incidents on the A37 at various times, and we are now seeing frequent, major hold-ups on the way into Yeovil due to the works being carried out at the point where the A30 reaches the town.
So I don’t think that this is just a special case of a service helpful for people in a particular part of West Dorset. On the contrary, we all have something to gain from good, detailed, timely and accessible information about traffic incidents right around the District.