WEST Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has called for the closest co-operation between local people, contractors, and Somerset Council to minimise the impact of a 19-week closure of a strategic Exmoor road.

The B3224 between Exford and Wheddon Cross is due to shut in early January to allow contractors to rebuild and stabilise a collapsed section of embankment at Roundwaters, a mile east of Exford.

It will not reopen until after Easter, 2024.

News of the closure was initially greeted with anger because the road is one of the main routes into North Devon and even in quiet winter periods is used by more than 100 vehicles an hour.

But Mr Liddell-Grainger, whose constituency includes two-thirds of Exmoor National Park, said there was now general agreement the work had to be carried out to allow the removal of temporary traffic lights which had been in situ since a tree came down in the winter of 2020.

Mr Liddell-Grainger attended a public meeting in Wheddon Cross on Wednesday (November 29) where council officials and contractors explained the challenges of the scheme to local residents and parish councillors.

He said there was a general acceptance that the magnitude of the repair work necessitated the road being closed.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “People can understand that the work has to be done and that because of the heavy plant that will be required on site, part-time opening of the road overnight or at weekends is not an option.

“The important thing is that the council has done its best to work around a very tricky situation.

“Arrangements are being made to re-route school transport and to find the best and most convenient alternative routes for drivers.

“I was impressed by the atmosphere at the meeting.

“But as the scheme progresses there needs to be constant contact between the council, the contractors, and residents, and I trust the local community network to see to it that this is maintained.

“There remains little that we can do other than hope that there is no slippage in the timetable because of bad weather.”