Home Gloucester New Motorway Services

New Motorway Services

by Barry

There is a proposal of building a new MSA (Motorway Service Area) just off J11a on the M5.

The model that is being used is that of Tebay in Cumbria, which I have to say I do like a lot, (as far as MSAs go anyway).

I do also think there is a need of one on that stretch, as there are no provisions otherwise.  There are services  off J9 and J12, but unless you know they are there then you dont find them.  This could be countered by better signage, but do they really fulfil the need or are they too small.

The Highways say that this is a critical stretch as there are no services if you were to travel on the M50 and then turn south on the M5.  There are none until Strensham.

Many arguments say “if you need the loo, just hold on” which is easy for an adult, but with children its not the same.

Another issue, is the attitude of some of the activists.  My wife had one asking her to sign the petition, and when she politely said no as she thought they were actually a good idea, the lady was very “off” to say the least,  with no discussion to attempt to educate or persuade,  she was just rude.

There is the line of argument that it may spoil the countryside.  If it is based on the Tebay model, then it should be ok, but that is only my opinion.   It thinks it will also make 300 permanent jobs and a further 200 to build it, which can’t be a bad thing.

So, overall I’m still undecided really, I’m certainly not against it at this stage, but I can’t say I’m amazingly excited about it either.  I can’t see me using it really as I would be so close to home.


Eddie August 3, 2010 - 1:20 pm

I see no need for this at all. No one uses the route you are talking about as I’m sure you know. This is green belt land and the views from Robinswood would be ruined.

Of much greater concern to me is the fact that the “trust” claims to be a charity. It isnt
Once dubious claims like this are bandied about, any thinking man must question everything else they say. Certainly the claims of employment seem to go up and down weekly.

My boards have rather a long thread at http://www.visit-gloucestershire.co.uk/boards/topic/6710-new-services-planned-for-m5-near-gloucester/

bazkirby August 3, 2010 - 3:33 pm

Well, not wishing to stoke the fire, but we do travel that way, but only as far as J1 on the M50 (from J12 M5). But I can’t say I have ever needed to stop on the way. What I ahve done is gone past the J8 services and wishing I’d stopped and not having another stop until Bristol was hard work. I don;t like coming off at junctions to “explore” for services, hence why J9 or J12 don’t really work.

It does seem that the trust is not a charity, but it has applied to become so. It was a bit disingenuous to do what they did – but maybe it was a mistake? Maybe not.

Also, whilst it has green credentials, it is also a business and they are in it to make money. And being a business, it will be looking at profit.

However, on the assumption that it will be like Tebay, I do like the end result. It is sympathetic in design and is much more friendly and a plesent place to stop.

Another good point is that Stroud are running this, when it should be a Gloucester decision. There is a lot to be discussed about Stroud dumping on the boundry!

Joe K August 4, 2010 - 2:33 am

‘Once dubious claims like this are bandied about, any thinking man must question everything else they say.’

You won’t be surprised to read that I find that attitude a little rich coming from you, Eddie. My own attitude regarding several local organisations is based squarely on the fact that they have behaved dubiously, but far from defending my right to be sceptical, you make your own ‘dubious claims’ about me, and what should ‘any thinking man’ do then?

I make mistakes like anyone else. I can accept that I was wrong about Fair Shares, for example, in specifically thinking that being a participant made me a ‘member’ of the charity, and I would have owned up to that, just not before getting a few hours sleep, but you slapped the ban on. And now here you are, not willing to consider the possibility that someone at the charity commission simply misspoke when they said Gateway shouldn’t call itself a charity. All the other evidence says they can, just not a registered charity, yet. The fact that they haven’t registered before now, with all the money they’re throwing around, is questionable (did they not want to be subject to commission scrutiny before the application is judged?), but denying that they have the right to call themselves a charity just won’t fly.

However, I’m pretty definitely opposed to this plan, and what tipped me over was Mark Gale’s involvement. Seems he has a finger in lots of pies, including Fair Shares (who also heartily endorsed this scheme). When I first heard about it, though, initial reporting made it look like a positive development for the community. Like it would create jobs and utilise innovative ecological features, and address a genuine need for a service area. It was when someone raised the issue of increased pollution, due to vehicles slowing and speeding up again when they used the services, that something didn’t seem quite right. The same Labour councillors who complained vociferously about the pollution an incinerator at Javelin Park might cause, were silent about the MSA’s contribution. Since then, as Queensryche said, ‘now I see the pay-off everywhere I look, who do you trust when everyone’s a crook?’ The Highways Agency, the Matson & Robinswood Residents Group, Keith Hebden, even Stroud District Council’s planning officers, all honey-coating a scheme that won’t really have to deliver on any of it’s promises. We’re entering an era when harsh realities trump lofty aspirations every time.

Now, what seemed like a good idea to me, when I heard it, was replacing the MSA with a ‘resting area’, a sort of glorified lay-by, with toilets. Sure, it wouldn’t pay for itself, as an MSA hopefully would, but that’s what the government is supposed be for, even in tough times. My wife, however (whose Dad’s nickname for her is ‘Bonesy’), seems fairly sure that any such area on a motorway is required to be self-financing, so in that case, no go. We’re left with a stretch of road that has a large (but not excessively so) gap between MSAs, that a consortium is trying very hard to justify building another service area on, even if they have to drag the M50 into the argument (and if they could drag the western end of it twenty or thirty miles south, they might win that argument).

I’d say, screw the 12 mile rule about building near a junction, and put the MSA at Staverton, between junctions 10 miles and 11. Either that, or put it anywhere on the M50.

bazkirby August 4, 2010 - 6:59 am

The pollution aspect is something that does need consideration. Though I do feel there is a difference between the Incinerator and the MSA, as you point out, there may not be much. it still involves vehicles driving to and from it. (and in this respect, a layby would be no different).

Building on the M50 is an idea, but I guess they would not get the throughput (which goes against the justification in the first place).

I do not know Mark Gale and therefore can’t comment, but I presume that this organisation is more than one person?

Joe K August 4, 2010 - 11:28 am

There’s no ideal solution to the problem identified, but a lay-by, if it were permissible, would certainly be more ecological than the turf-roofed outlet Gateway/Westmorland are proposing (especially if it wasn’t put next to Matson). I Googled the M50 to see if it had been built relatively recently (I don’t venture up the M5 that often), and it was actually built between 1960 and 1962, so that’s 50 years, near as, in which no-one made a convincing argument for another service area near Gloucester. Then along come these guys throwing Tebay at us, when what they’re really proposing isn’t comparable. What they really need to do is show us the figures that prove fatigue is an issue between the two existing MSAs.

Eddie August 4, 2010 - 4:10 pm

You might care to look at the letter from the locals Barrie


Joe K August 4, 2010 - 5:04 pm

Yep, ‘Barrie’, if you haven’t seen it on the boards already 😉

bazkirby August 4, 2010 - 8:05 pm

Thanks Eddie, I had seen that and they are sensible arguments, but IMHO, nothing compelling. There is nothing there that can’t be written off as NIMBY. I’m not saying it is NIMBY, but read it from that point of view and you will see what I mean.

There is a lot of discussion on the boards too, as well as other places, however I still ahvn;t seen an argument that really sways me against. A new business that will make some jobs, be different from standards MSAs and provide a service. Not very strong arguments, but are positive. The negative arguments Im not convinced about yet. I havn;t seen a real argument that it is a bad thing, especially having seen the template model at Tebay.

Joe K August 4, 2010 - 8:29 pm

Actually, Googling further, I see that work began on the M5 in 1962. This suggests that the ‘ghost slips’ near Staverton would have been the natural place for a service area if it hadn’t been for junction 11a. A stunning piece of bad planning that, considering there are service areas that come off junctions. I’ve used one on the way to Northampton. Let me check Google Maps… yes, take a look at junction 10 of the M40, and Cherwell Services. Not connected directly to the M40 but via a couple of roundabouts (each one of which still carries the number ’10’, for junction 10). Cherwell Services was built four years after the M40 was completed and still, connecting it indirectly to the the motorway wasn’t a great difficulty.

However, looking at junction 11a of the M5, it seems that the planners practically designed it to make adding a service area fraught with complications. The southbound slip merges straight into the eastbound 417 instead of connecting to a roundabout right in front of it that would have made access to an MSA on the fields west of Valiant Way simple, or north of the Bypass if more room was required. Linking the northbound slip is equally difficult. And this junction was designed in full knowledge of the lack of a nearby MSA, and presumably the fact that it would make an MSA further north impossible. How was that not boneheaded?

Joe K August 4, 2010 - 8:38 pm

‘Positive’ gets a rep that’s often undeserved, Barry. People said a lot of ‘positive’ things about the Emperor’s new clothes. The truth, though, was the truth, unpleasant for him as it was. It’s true that a lot of green fields are going to be dug up and tarmaced over to create these services, but the benefits promised are not nearly so certain.

bazkirby August 5, 2010 - 10:19 pm

If you can’t build services within 12m of a junction, what happened to J8?

Eddie August 6, 2010 - 3:00 pm

Straight from the horses moutn Barry

“When asked to define the latest position regarding MSA spacing on the UK Motorway Network, taking into account the possibility of a Motorway Service Area on the M5 at Brookthorpe, Mr Iain Reidy, the Highways Policy and Procedures Advisor in Birmingham, said on Monday this week :
“I do not have a facility in the short term to accurately measure journey distances on the motorway network, but we believe from initial rough estimates that the distance from Ross to Brookthorpe would be around 40 miles.
I can confirm that if I accept your assumptions about spacing distances should the MSA at Brookthorpe become part of the strategic road network, then under current policy aspirations there would be a gap in provision on that part of the Network from Ross to Brookthorpe. It follows from the requirements set out in circular 01/2008 that any gap over 40 miles should be filled by a core MSA site as defined within that policy.”
This clearly means that a new MSA at Brookthorpe, which is over 40 miles from Ross, would still not fully meet the Highways Agency requirements and that, within their current policy, they would be fully justified in requiring another MSA between Ross and Brookthorpe. The proposed MSA at Brookthorpe would not be required at all if only the 33 mile distance between Michaelwood and Strensham MSAs was taken into account, and if the full 53.5 mile distance between Michaelwood and Ross was considered, the proposed MSA at Brookthorpe would not “help fulfill the policy aspirations and need by filling one of these accepted gaps on our network” as quoted by Pete Wray, the Highways Agency Network Manager, in that it would create the need for a further MSA between Ross and Brookthorpe.
From the above, it is obvious, in current parlance, that the proposed MSA at Brookthorpe is “not fit for purpose” in that it is not needed between Michaelwood and Strensham and does not does not solve the problem of services on the M50.

Joe K August 6, 2010 - 10:46 pm

‘If you can’t build services within 12m of a junction, what happened to J8?’

The simple answer is that I was wrong, Barry. The diagram I was studying looked as if the distance from junctions was what mattered, when actually it was the distances from MSAs, i.e., Michael Woods at J12, and Strensham, less than a mile beyond J8. Still, I’m not afraid to admit to a mistake (unlike ‘Reg’ with his ‘You deleted your posts from the TiG blog to make us look like the idiots’ accusation).

While I was looking into this though, and getting sidetracked as always, I discovered some things I didn’t know about the M50 (a redundant phrase, as I can’t really discover things I do know about the M50). For example, that it’s one of the few motorways never widened to three lanes, that its hard shoulder is intermittent, and non-existent at bridges, and that if junction 3 is anything to go by, it doesn’t deserve to be regarded as a motorway at all. All this, and what looks suspiciously like a motorway service area, serving both directions, at junction 2. I can’t find out anything about this structure (Google Maps doesn’t even give it a name), and it may have closed long ago, due to the M50 being light on traffic, but that further undermines the argument that the M50 ‘motorway’ makes an MSA at Brookthorpe essential. It begs the question, while Gloucestershire Gateway were crafting their evidence in support of an MSA, did they conduct a survey into just how many motorists drove the entire length of the M50 and then down the M5 to Michael Woods?

Strangely enough, I took the family to Southmead in Bristol this afternoon, for tea with the wife’s relatives. My father-in-law, not the most highbrow of sorts (the only national paper he reads is The Sport), raised one point I hadn’t considered, when I told him there might be a new MSA next to Gloucester; namely that the service station just off J13 had cheaper petrol than on-junction service areas. We passed this station on our way to Go Bananas two days ago, and very nice it looks, with a Little Chef right next door to it. Of course, its trade would be hit as well if this new MSA were built.

Joe K August 7, 2010 - 5:33 pm

And I see ‘Reg’ doing exactly the thing he accuses me of; indulging his personal antipathy against someone by making false accusations against them. This time, though. Emdia isn’t accusing him of being ‘threatening’ in tone…

Greg Burdette reports

Joe K August 7, 2010 - 7:34 pm

‘Course, to be absolutely fair, there is a difference between making an accusation and asking a question, but then again, there are questions and there are questions, which do vary between the accusatory and the educational. ‘Who made you boss?’ isn’t quite the same as ‘Now do you see why cutting your toenails with a scythe isn’t a good idea?’

Eddie August 8, 2010 - 12:17 pm

Still spamming other peoples blogs then Joe

Joe K August 8, 2010 - 12:34 pm

Still half-inching other people’s arguments, Eddie?

But then, if you had an ounce of the creativity needed to develop an argument of your own, you might be able to perceive the double standards you practise on the boards as well. Barry has been subjected to your hectoring (but not ‘threatening’, of course) tones on more than one occasion, so do you think he has a problem with me taking time out to pull your whiskers?

But out of respect to Barry, this should be about the MSA, if you have anything (of your own) to contribute…

Eddie August 8, 2010 - 2:30 pm

“But out of respect to Barry, this should be about the MSA,”

Yes, it should. Moaning about unrelated items like “And I see ‘Reg’ doing” is spamming.

Joe K August 8, 2010 - 2:37 pm

But at least I’m ‘off’ the boards, Eddie…

And it’s come to my attention that the structure at junction 2 is a maintenance depot (AmeyMouchel), which Street Google confirms. So still no MSA on the M50, therefore, although the depot may have replaced a rest area. Street Google also confirms what a crappy excuse for a motorway the M50 is, with it’s single lane slip roads.

bazkirby August 8, 2010 - 10:19 pm

So, apart from the risk that it may not look pretty from Robinswood hill (which won’t really affect me unless I’m on the ski slope), and that it could be built elsewhere, I’ve not really heard anything to convince me against the plan.

I do think there are services needed somewhere, and they are never going to be built on the M50. As Joe points out, its a crap excuse for a motorway and would not get throughput. A more convincing argument is to take into account the M4 traffic coming via the A417.

As I have said before, I think Tebay is very good as the template, and I think it would be good for the local economy.

Eddie August 9, 2010 - 5:04 am

So, as it won’t affect you that’s ok

bazkirby August 9, 2010 - 6:48 am

No, what I have done is summed up my views on the ‘evidence’ and opinion that has been debated on here. As an extensive user of the motorway network, I can see the argument for having one, and I think it would be great to have more on this model as the standard MSAs are generally overpriced rubbish.

I still don’t really see how it will adversely affect Matson residents?

Joe K August 9, 2010 - 3:29 pm

I don’t think even the Highway Agency would regard the A417 as a convincing argument, Barry. It’s not like a motorway where you can’t pull over except in dire emergency, and no-one’s going to soldier on for the M5, spurred by the prospect of a (probably still over-priced) service area.

At the end of the day, the only new item on the agenda here is a promise to help the same community the MSA is going to harm, but as I’ve said (here or somewhere else), the promise isn’t nearly as iron-cast as the harm.

bazkirby August 11, 2010 - 11:02 am

Your right Joe, its not convincing, but I would wager its a more used road than the M50.

Anyway, latest news is that Planning has been allowed, http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/news/Gloucestershire-M5-motorway-eco-service-station-given-ahead/article-2509712-detail/article.html

We will now see if there is an appeal from CAMSA, they have promised one.

There seems to be big issues with the promised job numbers and the employment of immigrants. Given that Gloucester has quite a diverse population, I would not have expected that argument to be so strong here.

The pollution issue has also being raised, with a reference to the M5 having the worst pollution in thre country. I hope I have got that wrong as I find it hard to believe that we have more than London/M25.

So, lets see what happens next.

Joe K August 11, 2010 - 11:24 am

You might be surprised, Barry. The M5 is a busy road, and those drivers who roar past everyone else at 80 miles per hour or more don’t help to keep pollution down. I’ve already highlighted the hypocrisy of councillors who loudly oppose incineration but are strangely quiet about the emissions from the motorway.

It would be some kind of irony if this MSA pushed things to a ‘tipping point’, and a permanent smog settled over the ‘eco services’ when it opened.

bazkirby August 11, 2010 - 1:40 pm

I think I would be suprised, as a frequent user of the motorway network I think the M25 is much busier than the M5. But I could be wrong as I don’t have any figures to hand.

Personally, I don’t think the Incinerator argument is on emmissions alone (though that does worry a lot of people). I think it ranges much broader. Until we know the final solution then we will not know what the emmission rate will be. A lot of my argument of the incinerator does not involve the emissions from it. But that is another topic.

Your right though, an MSA will increase emmissions in the local area, by what amount could be modelled, though I would hope that would have been done already.

Rob September 5, 2010 - 10:04 pm

why would anyone think an MSA would spoil the view when you have a whacking great 6 lane motorway already running through the area?

My Blog performance – 2010 in review « The murmurings of Barry Kirby January 2, 2011 - 10:27 am

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