Poor communication led to Ottery road chaos

LACK of communication by contractors led to road closures and chaos during recent resurfacing works in Ottery St Mary.

LACK of communication by contractors led to road closures and chaos during recent resurfacing works in Ottery St Mary.

Whilst Devon County Council's contractors under South West Highways should have caused minimum delays possible by beginning work to the B3177 from Summer Lane, Alfington, they began from Butts Road, leaving the entire stretch closed.

Complaining of the problems, which affected two large businesses and prevented Stagecoach's 380 bus service from serving Alfington, Councillor Roger Giles told members of DCC's East Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee on Monday the closure had been contrary to what he had told local people, and what businesses had been told.

Joshua's Harvest Store was hit hard by the closures in both with owners estimating the five days of work left sales 20 per cent below what they should have been.

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Owner Mark Essame said: "We were told at the time they would only do one section at a time and they ended up closing the whole lot. It was absolute chaos and cost us a great deal of money. There was a huge dent in our sales and I believe it's attributable to that.

People thought they couldn't get in from either direction. We had bought a lot of advertising space to catch the holiday trade. It was such a mess at the time people must have thought they would just stay away."

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Meg Booth, chief assistant engineer, east, said: "We don't tell the contractor how to plan work but if unhappy we will intervene."

Consultations with businesses took place in April, she said, adding: "Unfortunately between the start of consultations and the road closure in August there was a change of personnel and a breakdown in communications within the contractor's organisation."

Miss Booth said the council would try to ensure the situation didn't arise again.

Afterwards Mr Giles said: "It was totally unnecessary to have chaos for a week when it should only have been at the end of the job.

"South West Highways works for DCC. They should do work as we wish them to do it.

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