Transport and travel are significant issues for Marshfield. Within the compact historic village, it is relatively easy and pleasant to move around by foot or cycle, but streets originally intended for horses struggle to accommodate the growing number of cars.
Almost all parishioners regularly need to travel beyond the parish for secondary education, work, shopping , hospitals, and other needs.
The only public transport option in the parish is by bus. There are regular, if infrequent, bus services available to Chippenham, Bath, and Bristol via Kingswood.
There is no formal evidence of widespread dissatisfaction in the services. Despite this, bus use has remained low and anecdotal responses suggest this may be because buses do not run to the required places at the required times. The South Gloucestershire average for residents commuting by bus is 6.4%. In Marshfield the 2001 census shows 2.1%, or only 17 people, as regular bus commuters. It is however important to note that those who do use the bus may be reliant upon it and may have no alternative means of transport. All services run well below capacity. Better information about services might encourage greater use particularly as many residents qualify for bus passes giving free travel..
In the face of existing heavy subsidies, any requests for additional services are likely to be turned down, and the greater likelihood is a rationalising of existing provision.
A school bus service is provided from Marshfield to the Chippenham Schools for which Marshfield children have to pay. However, the fares are high and it is believed that all use the Andrews service which is significantly cheaper and more direct.
There is no Community Transport although some measure of need is apparent among activity groups and those needing to get to work. Community Bus Permits are available for bodies wishing to run a voluntary non-profit service using unpaid volunteer drivers so this remains an option.
The 2001 census shows 995 cars between 641 households which is above the national average. This number is expected to have increased since that time.
Running a car is expensive, especially for the young for whom insurance alone is usually prohibitive. Motor cycles can be the only means for the over 17′s to escape from the village in the evenings.
With running cost of cars increasing, a return trip to Bath can cost £4-5 and a minimum of £2 for parking. The Park and Ride at Lansdown provides a significantly lower cost, although at some inconvenience, particularly for those with a bus pass.
For those in employment, nearly 70% travel to work by car or van which may explain the crush of cars at peak times.
Fuel for cars and servicing is available at two locations in the village. 24 hour pay-at-the-pump automated facilities have been suggested but the garages concerned state that the very high installation costs and health and safety requirements would make it totally uneconomic for them.
There is a Taxi service based in Marshfield. There is also a bus company, Andrews, mainly used to provide trips for organisations in the area and they run school bus services to Hardenhuish & Sheldon schools in Chippenham
This valuable service has now been operating since 2010 taking patients to a variety of local hospitals. The service does not feel it is suitable for taking expectant or new mothers and babies to appointments.
Patients cover the petrol costs, which were underwritten by the Parish Council although, in 2012, village legend Eddie Sedgmore raised over £1000 for the service through a sponsored bike ride from Land’s End to John o’Groats.
Marshfield has a strong tradition of transport with three companies operating from in and around the village. In the past, problems caused by their large lorries passing through the village were resolved; now this is not an issue.
Good opportunities exist around the smaller roads for mountain biking and road cycling. However, the busyness of the main roads and the steep hills make cycling, beyond the Parish, for most impractical although some hardy souls cycle to work to Bristol each day. .
There is room on much of the A420 to include a marked cycle lane with room on the verges if necessary.
Marshfield is surrounded by a network of marked footpaths. These are well maintained by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens. They attract many visitors to Marshfield walking both as individuals and as groups. There is a Marshfield WI Walking Group.
Usually, walkers park to the West of George Lane and as such do not normally create a problem for residents. Beneficially, they do use the local pubs and tearoom although there are complaints about walkers parking on the High Street and Market Place on Sundays in particular. To counter this, there is an opportunity to enhance the West End lay-by and create a car park for walkers, with information boards. A secure box for voluntary contributions could be installed, as operates successfully in other places.
Within the village the mown grass walk alongside the bypass between George Lane and the western turning into the village is very popular. This could be extended eastward along the full length of the village to provide a circular route, with return along the High Street for walkers and runners. As funding allows, low level lighting could enable it to be used year round.
This grass airstrip is used only by light planes and microlites, generally at weekends. Their use appears to be restricted to local pleasure flights. No problems have been reported to the Parish Council.
Aside from general village car parking, High Street parking has been identified as a particular issue. Although lined by fine buildings, the High Street appears as a linear car park and parking was specifically cited as a reason for the village missing out on the 2011 ‘Village of the Year’ prize. It also causes congestion, with the bus companies complaining of frequent delays and delivery and refuse vehicles becoming stuck. It is a potential impediment to emergency vehicles.
The problem is not new. There is a quote from 1911 complaining about the traffic/parking on the High St. The by-pass gave relief for a few years but the problem has returned as car ownership has grown and vehicle widths have increased. At the same time, it seems likely that, with pressure on space, more households have resorted to using their garages solely as additional storerooms.
Parking on Withymead Road is often difficult and hazardous to traffic. It has been suggested that the deep grass verge should be converted to additional parking spaces. Additionally, more dropped kerbs would enable more off street parking. However, householders have to pay for this privately and it is currently too expensive.
A car park has been suggested. However, the Parish Council investigated the problem and the only available spaces are the two lay-bys at either end of the village or greater use of the Community Centre car park. However, the lay-bys are arguably too remote and the Community centre would need permission from the Trustees. There is no guarantee such facilities would be used because of their obvious security issues.
Shop owners in the High Street complain about the lack of parking spaces outside their premises. There is no dedicated, disabled parking provision either although they have the facility to park on double yellow lines.
Any restrictions would directly affect some residents who would lose parking space, and so are unlikely to be totally popular. Restrictions would also rely on effective enforcement.
Redevelopment of the site of The Crown might include some element of public parking.
The recent introduction of the 50 mph limit on the by-pass will hopefully reduce the dangers on this stretch of road that have in the past resulted in some serious accidents.
Speeding within the centre of the village is largely prevented by the high density of parked cars. However, there appear to be a significant number of vehicles which pass through the length of the village for no apparent reason when they could have exited, at various points, to the by-pass.
The parked cars on the High Street may restrict speed but they prevent clear sightlines particularly for children wishing to cross the road.. They can also result in people wishing to deliver to the shops, or briefly visit them, to park on double yellow lines creating a hazard. Partly due to delivery lorries and to the larger 4×4′s, there is often insufficient space for any large emergency vehicles to get through.
Problems are not confined to the central section of the High Street. Businesses such as Central Garage have expressed concern about vehicles speeding into the village, with fear of an accident waiting to happen. Vehicles are not the only culprits, since cyclists, including younger village residents, take risks at some of the road junctions. The school have complained about drivers turning off the by-pass too quickly by the school when children are arriving and leaving. Others have expressed concerns about speeds along Marshfield Road in the Chippenham direction which is a heavily used route to school.
There is a perceived decrease in drivers’ understanding of the reaction of horses to cars. Some, including parish residents, often drive too close to or too fast past ponies and horses. Some drivers in the village also do not appear to appreciate the impact a mistimed slammed car door may have on a pony.