Sat, 04 Nov 2017
DOES anyone at West Berkshire Council co-ordinate roadworks?
It’s a question that frustrated residents and councillors asked last week following heavier than usual traffic on the A4.
Thames Water closed Heath Lane to carry out work on a water main on October 16 and the closure is scheduled until November 14.
A diversion is in place via Floral Way, the A4, Tull Way and Bowling Green Road; pushing ‘Thatcham by-pass’ traffic into the town centre.
Thatcham resident Mike Payne said that vehicles that would normally dodge the traffic lights on the A4 were now coming down Park Lane and Northfield Road, clogging up the A4.
Furthermore, signs saying ‘access only, no through traffic’ had been placed in Sagecroft Road.
Mr Payne, who travels to Hermitage twice a week, said: “If I want to go to Hermitage without going through Sagecroft Road I have to go on the A4, adding a mile to the journey plus adding to the traffic on the A4.
“It’s caused havoc with Compton and Trinity school buses.
“If they are going to have the signs then say ‘for safety reasons’, otherwise people will ignore it.
“The most sensible thing, if they had thought it through properly, would be to have Heath Lane as a one-way with traffic lights.
“It would keep traffic flowing around the town and not rat-running on Sagecroft and Northfield.”
The first week of the Heath Lane closure also coincided with a week-long off-peak closure of Bury’s Bank Road, shutting off a route to Newbury.
Bucklebury resident Susan Morgan said residents’ journeys were being made more difficult by the simultaneous closure.
She asked if anyone at West Berkshire Council was responsible for coordinating road closures.
Discussing traffic in the town at a recent meeting, Richard Crumly (Con, Thatcham Central) said: “I have noticed the increase in traffic and every time I look there is no work taking place.”
Sheila Ellison (Con, Thatcham North) said that one resident had received a “quite condescending reply” from the district council.
“This man was noting the traffic but also noting safety of children,” she said.
“He wrote to highways and asked if they could slow the traffic down, because he was worried about the safety of children, and he got quite a condescending answer from our highways department.”
Town council leader Jason Collis (Con, Thatcham North) asked whether councillors should contact Thames Water.
“If it appears they are not doing anything it’s prolonging the agony for residents,” he said, adding: “Sagecroft is not a road you want a lot of traffic going down.”
The mood was summed up by Mike Cole (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) who said: “Is there anyone at West Berkshire who knows what’s coming up?”
A spokesman for West Berkshire Council, Martin Dunscombe, said: “Every year we receive thousands of requests from utility companies wanting to work on roads in West Berkshire.
“We work hard to co-ordinate this work and our own highways improvements to keep our roads moving and minimise the impact on motorists.
“On some occasions emergency or essential work reduces the flexibility we usually have and we then work to find the best solution available.
“We also work hard to let local communities know about upcoming roadworks through an interactive map on our website and liaison with town and parish councils.
“Anyone wanting to find details of roadworks in their area can visit www.westberks.gov.uk/roadworks"
Mr Dunscombe said that the Heath Lane works could not be completed without a closure as the pipe lies in the centre of the carriageway.
He added that Thames Water would pause their work to allow the road to reopen on Remembrance weekend, when the A4 will be closed for the town’s parade, and then return afterwards to complete it.