Village fury over 'unacceptable' roadworks plan
- Credit: Cliffy Pugh
Residents of a north Norfolk village fear planned roadworks will cause traffic chaos at the height of the holiday and harvest season.
Northrepps Parish Council and Ed Maxfield, who represents the division on Norfolk County Council (NCC), have hit out at NCC plans to close a stretch of Church Street for nine days from August 23.
But an NCC spokesman has said that although the timing of the closure - so BT can lay cabling - may not be ideal, the work had been scheduled for the school holidays to reduce disruption.
Alistair Mackay, parish council chairman, branded the plans "totally unacceptable", and said it would mean caravans and tractors would be competing for space on the area's narrow roads.
"Church Street is the centre of the village - all other roads converge on it," he said.
"We have businesses here that rely on that particular week to help cover the lean winter months.
"We are in a tourist area and the roads during the week proposed are bad enough anyway. Imagine the chaos if tourists with their caravans are all trying to follow the diversions.
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"I appreciate the need to close the road to do this cable ducting but sometime between November and February would be a far more logical time to do it rather than at the height of the holiday season."
Mr Maxfield criticised the council team behind the works for its timing.
He said: "This is another example of how the Highways Department at County Hall has lost touch with the needs of the communities it works for.
"It has become a remote processing centre unwilling to use its powers to stand up to people who are not interested in local need."
A county council spokesperson said: "The one-week road closure is part of the rollout of superfast fibre broadband to the village and wider area.
"We recognise there is never an ideal time for any road to be closed however the work is being carried out during the school holidays to avoid disruption to the local school, and a fully signed official diversion route will be in place.”
‘I hope they see sense’ - Pub landlord speaks out
Among the businesspeople fearing the impact of the planned works in Northrepps is Jason Bumphrey, landlord of the Foundry Arms pub in Church Street.
Mr Bumphrey said the closure was set to come at a time of year when it would cost the pub dearly in terms of lost trade.
He said: "We're really concerned about the timing of this. It would be quite a devastating blow and it would also cause carnage with the traffic.
"The works would block off three routes into the village so people would have to make a huge diversion to get around to us via Hungry Hill. If you're coming from Norwich that would mean a detour of probably four miles.
"That may not sounds like a lot but when people aren't aware of the roads around here it can be off-putting, especially for older people who are not so technically minded.
"I seriously hope they see sense and let us get over this busy period so we can fully recover from the Covid impact."