Businesses hit as the half-term roadworks cause traffic chaos

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On one day alone, there were ten sets of roadworks with temporary traffic lights and closures causing long delays for those trying to get into or through Tunbridge Wells.

The mile-long journey from Frant has been taking up to an hour, with many potential shoppers giving up, turning round and going home. The journey would normally take five to ten minutes.

Businessman Toby Dicker, of The Chapel hairdressers in Chapel Place, said: “It’s almost as if the town is closed for business. It’s insanity. There seems no forethought or planning.”

Another business owner, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s been the worst October we can remember and it’s all down to the roadworks – who co-ordinates all this work?”

Responsibility for roadworks and closures rests with the Highways Department of Kent County Council, not Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

Astrid Kucoussey, store manager at Pure Collection in the High Street, said: “Even though last week was half term it affected footfall. We get a lot of occasional shoppers who will stop outside and pop in, but that is not the case at the moment.”

The delays are expected to have cost local businesses thousands as shoppers, workers and business people battled to get around town in the face of roadworks on Mount Ephraim, St John’s Road and London Road causing lengthy queues.

Frustrated motorists took to social media to complain about the traffic jams.

Darrell Edmondson told his Twitter followers that it took 40 minutes to travel 2.5 miles from North Farm to Major Yorks Road. Others described the road delays as ‘hideous’.

Roadworks cost the national economy £4billion a year due to delayed deliveries and people being unable to get to work on time, and it is estimated that last week’s raft of repairs could have cost the local economy tens of thousands in lost revenue.

It is expected most of the roadworks will be finished by the end of this week.

Kent County Council [KCC] said the delay to the Mount Pleasant works outside the Town Hall, along with the approaching run-up to Christmas, meant a mixture of planned and emergency works had to be conducted in a short space of time.

A spokesman said: “We appreciate that roadworks are frustrating, and we do our best to coordinate timing to avoid as much disruption to the roads as possible.

“With planned works there is the time to review and coordinate works to avoid conflicts and ensure that conditions are in place to minimise disruption as much as possible.

“When emergency works are required, KCC must react to these circumstances, imposing conditions on the permit and reviewing options to delay nearby planned works where this would be of benefit in reducing congestion.”

He continued: “Unfortunately, work on Mount Pleasant Road was due to be finished on September 2, but the closure had to be extended.

“This is because many underground services need to be reinstated properly, including a collapsed Southern Gas Network trench.

“There are also constraints from Network Rail on how to excavate the existing concrete road because of how close it is to the rail tunnel.

“This has had a knock-on effect to other planned works, resulting in more having to take place so that they can be completed before the Christmas moratorium on November 25.”

This means a ban on all roadworks leading up to Christmas.

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