WILTSHIRE COUNTY Council is set to revise its bid for Government transport funding after an independent panel criticised its draft local transport plan as too biased towards road improvement.
Just three weeks before it is due to submit its LTP to the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions, an emergency meeting of the council's Environment and Transport Committee has been called to discuss revisions.
Councillor John Irving called the meeting after criticism from an independent panel - chaired by Aspen Consulting's Mike Cottell - that nearly half of the £100M LTP bid is for new roads with little provision for rail services or transport interchanges.
Critics are angry that road schemes such as the proposed 4km Semington-Melksham diversion and the 9km Westbury bypass were approved while a £12M package to improve west Wiltshire's rail service is left out.
Consultant Parkman recommended a £12M upgrade of services between Chippenham and Frome in its recent study of transport in the county. The scheme would see the authority buy and run two new trains to upgrade the current twice daily service through Melksham, Trowbridge, Westbury and Warminster to an hourly service.
New stations, several bus/ train interchanges and seven mini-rail freight terminals would also be included to strengthen links to Bath and Southampton.
Local Transport 2000 campaigner Jenny Raggett said: 'We are very unhappy that the council has looked at Parkman's report and only bid for a very small portion of it.'
However, West Wiltshire County Council said it had included a bid for £2.5M worth of rail services over five years. A spokesman added: 'We have made it clear that the two road schemes are part of our £41M west Wiltshire sustainable transport strategy which also includes investment in rail and buses. It's complete rubbish to say we have ignored the rail report. Our critics are ignoring the fact that we will at least double spending on rail through revenue support.'