Fri, 27 Apr 2018
THE closure of Bucklebury’s main route to Thatcham for up to five months will be a “short-term inconvenience” for a long-term gain.
That was Thames Water’s message to residents ahead of the closure of Harts Hill Road on April 30, scheduled to last until October 1.
The road will be closed from the junction with Floral Way to Briff Lane to allow for the safe replacement of a water main pipe.
But some residents have raised concerns and criticised Thames Water’s methods.
A drop-in session was held at Bucklebury Memorial Hall earlier this month to provide information about the closure.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, local/regional government liaison officer for Thames Water, Huw Thomas, said that the work would be a “short-term inconvenience, but a good long-term solution for the Bucklebury area; improving the reliability of the water supply”.
When asked about the diversion, Mr Thomas said that the route had been devised by West Berkshire Council.
“We lay the pipes, they do the signs,” he said. “We follow their advice on traffic movements.”
Mr Thomas said that Thames Water employees would take residents’ bins to a collection point.
The company will also be laying on two additional minibuses to take children to Kennet School.
A diversion will be in place via Broad Lane, Cold Ash Hill and Floral Way.
Thames Water said that a text message service would be set up to notify residents as to which end of the closure they should use to access their properties.
One resident raised concerns about additional traffic heading down country lanes, but Mr Thomas argued that traffic “would find a natural balance”.
Another resident questioned the length of the closure and why the new pipe could not be laid in fields to the east of Harts Hill Road.
Thames Water said that the five-month closure was provisional and the work could be completed before October 1.
It added that the pipe could not be laid in the fields because the land is privately owned and a lengthy legal process would have been required.
One resident said: “The whole thing is a fait accompli anyway.
“We, as residents, seem to have no say on decisions which impact us, made by bureaucrats who, in the opinion of many locals, have no idea, or care, of the impact of their decision.
“While I appreciate there have been burst pipes and it is a waste of water and residents are paying for a service they might not be getting, in today’s world it seems incredible that we need to shut a major arterial road for five months to replace a water pipe – which is being pushed inside an existing pipe.
“I personally cannot remember the last time we had a water outage due to a burst pipe on Harts Hill.
“It must be 18 months ago at least.”
Thames Water spokeswoman Becky Trotman said: “As the majority of local people know, we regularly have leaks and bursts along this stretch of road due to the age of the pipe, so the only way to combat this is to replace it.
“We’re investing over £5m to make the improvements and reduce disruption for residents in the longer term and this has been welcomed by many of them.
“We regularly have to close roads for our mains replacement schemes, so have a lot of experience when it comes to working out the best way of doing it with minimal disruption.
“This job has been carefully planned and we’ve met with the council and the emergency services to make sure the diversion route is practical and most importantly safe.”
Bucklebury parish councillor Anne Hillerton said: “I think they are doing all they can to make it as easy as possible.
“People will have to get used to leaving five minutes earlier, but we are getting a decent water supply.”