MAJOR road projects across Swindon are happening at the same time because government funding demands it.

The council’s cabinet member for infrastructure and planning Gary Sumner presented a report to the authority’s communities and place committee about the eight schemes across the borough. Some of them have already begun and they will run through 2021, costing a total of £125m.

Roy Worman, who lives in Haydon Wick, grilled Coun Sumner during public questions.

He said: “Are all these schemes, which will cause such disruption to motorists happening at the same time because of the council’s failure to plan for delays and slippage? Where does the blame lie?”

Coun Sumner replied: “The reason is the funding. We have been very successful in securing millions of pounds from central government for these schemes, from things like the Local Growth Fund and the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

“It means that very little of Swindon council taxpayers’ money is being used for the improvements – but that also means that we have to spend a lot of the money by a certain time.

"The funding for things like the News Eastern Villages infrastructure and Junction 15 improvements have very specific dates attached, so we have to get on with it.”

One of the projects, the Mead Way widening, has already been delayed – both because of the coronavirus lockdown and because when the road was dug up it became apparent that drainage pipes needed to be moved.

Coun Sumner said: “We might have a £300,000 overspend on the Mead Way scheme, largely because of problems with utilities companies.

"I won’t name them in this meeting, but we are having what you might call very robust conversations with them.”

Coun Sumner added that if restrictions due to Covid-19 cause further delays then the council would apply for whatever recompense is made available by Whitehall.

He said in other ways the lockdowns had helped the projects, adding: “The lack of traffic has not been unhelpful.

"Work is going on at Junction 15 and that used to be a trouble spot nearly every morning, and I don’t hear that now.

"Likewise, less traffic at the White Hart roundabout has allowed us to get on with work causing less disruption.”

The schemes are: Widening Westmead junction in Mead Way (due for completion spring 2021, costing £4.1m); Signalling Moonrakers junction (spring 2021, £2.8m); Improving White Hart junction (December 2021, £30.1m); Widening Oxford Road/Nythe Road junction (June 2021, £2.9m); Increasing capacity at Dorcan Way/Piccadilly roundabout and the A420 Gablecross junction (August 2021, £8.4m); Work on the New Eastern Villages southern connector road (August 2022, £30.6m); A road from Wichelstowe under the M4 to the east of Junction 16 (November 2021, £28.7m).