The road behind me is closed. There's been a landslip.
And that's a problem because it's pretty much the only road that connects the villages of
Kelston and a dozen others besides
to the picturesque city of Bath. There is a detour, but it's 14 miles long,
and the council won't be able to open this road for a few months yet.
But there is a solution, and it's quite an astonishing one.
This is the Kelston toll road,
and it was set up not by the council, but by - well - this man.
MIKE: We were in the local pub one night after the road had been closed about 3 months.
We were talking to the local farmer who owns the land here.
My wife suggested that he should put down some stone and maybe
set up a toll road and charge people to go over.
We were gung-ho. We carved the field. We built the road. We did it without planning permission.
TOM: As you might expect, the council are not initially happy about this,
but here's the thing: Mike is not breaking the law.
In the U.K., not getting planning permission - the U.S. translation would be violating zoning laws -
but in the U.K., not getting planning permission is not a crime in itself.
You're only breaking the law when the council notices, files an enforcement order against you,
and then you refuse to undo what you've done.
MIKE: So we thought that they would say, "well look, you know, get on and do it,
this is great, you've got our full support."
They - they didn't come up with that and they've actually made us apply for retrospective planning permission.
TOM: The council did have some good reasons.
According to their statement,
they weren't sure if construction and driving up there would affect the landslip down there.
But, they seem to have taken the risk, and it's paid off.
Mind you, they're not the only ones taking a fairly big risk on this road.
MIKE: My wife and I have got a lovely little cottage in Kelston down by the river.
We put our house up as a guarantee with the road builders to say, "look, we want to build this road.
If it doesn't work out, we will sell our house and we'll pay you, and it's the only way we can make this happen.
They're a local firm and they agreed to it.
We shook hands and they sent 3 guys over and they built this road in 10 days.
We've got to get 150,000 cars over to get our money back - but we're well on the way,
we've had 100,000. The public's reaction has been [MOTORCYCLE ENGINE]
it has been astonishing. The public's reaction has been astonishing.
TOM: It's even made it onto Google Maps.
So there you go. The Kelston toll road.
Something you might not have known about - not just because of its existence,
but also the fact it is still running, and it looks like it will be for a few months yet.
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