Sidmouth traders slam diversion ‘disaster’

HORRIFIED Sidmouth business leaders slammed another diversion “disaster” that saw drivers sent on a near 20-mile detour - when the ‘gateway’ to the town remained open.

Signs related to resurfacing work on the A3052 at Sidford that appeared on Tuesday told motorists heading toward the town from Exeter to go via Honiton as highway ahead was ‘closed’.

Diversion instructions sent traffic left at the Halfway Inn - even though Bulverton Road was still accessible through Newton Poppleford.

County highways chiefs acted to address the problem within 24 hours of complaints.

It’s the second time in just a few weeks Sidmouth town centre has suffered diversion damage, said chamber of commerce chairman Richard Eley.

The Herald reported last month how 75 yards of gas works in School Street, Sidford, meant motorists were sent on a 25-mile detour.

“We have to put up with this time and time again – it’s totally unfair,” said Mr Eley.

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“I was horrified to learn that the diversion signs were once again in total disarray. Sidmouth has been extremely quiet recently, and there can be little doubt that the roadworks have contributed.

“They’ve been a succession of disasters, and I am getting extremely fed up with a situation which is completely avoidable.”

Mr Eley said Devon County Council (DCC) officers told him their diversion policy was to ‘stick to A roads’. Bulverton Road, a main entrance to Sidmouth off the A3052, is classed as a B route.

Derek Parry, chamber of commerce president, was returning from Exeter on Tuesday morning when he noticed the diversion.

He said: “All Sidmouth businesses, like those elsewhere, are having to work extra hard to survive in the present economic situation. They don’t need these entirely unnecessary signs to add to their problems.”

Traffic using the main A3052 through Sidford will be diverted until March 6 as resurfacing work is carried out between Core Hill Road and Sidford Cross.

A DCC spokeswoman said on Wednesday that highways chiefs had worked with contractor Aggregate Industries to make changes. She added: “All of the signs indicating Sidmouth are now amended so only Seaton is signed off at Halfway House.

“Sidmouth is a straight ahead destination and is readily accessed by local diversions around the works in the area of Sidford High Street.

“Hopefully this will help ease some of the problems.”