Road closure 'beyond a joke' as residents' six month wait goes on
Residents have expressed their frustration after being forced to take a three-mile detour to get to and from their homes for the last six months.
Around half-a-dozen residents and business owners have seen their lives interrupted by a closure in Low Road, near Harleston, just before the junction at Shotford Road.
The road was closed to motorists on Christmas Eve, following severe flooding, which eroded a large portion of the carriageway.
With the date for the reopening continually pushed back, nearby residents have hit out, describing the situation as “beyond a joke” and demanding greater clarity from the local authority.
Valerie Warman, who has lived on the road for 18 years, said: “They keep putting the date back, and it’s a two-mile diversion for us. It’s been going on, and on, and on.”
As a result, residents have to drive two miles; up Low Road and on to Mendham Lane to join the A143, before getting into the town. A journey that would usually take two minutes is now taking 10.
“It’s getting beyond a joke – it’s even worse for the farmers, because the tractors have to go down the diversion and it’s getting dangerous for people walking down there,” added Mrs Warman.
“I’m worried – my husband was stung by a wasp not that long ago and had to go to hospital after he suffered a reaction. If it happens again, they’re going to be an extra 10 minutes to get to us.”
Tim Lewis, who runs a farm, Shotford Hall, and a cafe, Marsh Larder, both in Low Road, added: “In a car, you can do it in 10 minutes but, in slower farm vehicles, it’s a good 20 minutes.
“We would do about 90 per cent of our journeys on that route and we are having to take a three-mile detour about four times a day.”
The 54-year-old, who reopened his cafe in the spring as lockdown measures began to ease, added that the closure has had a significant impact on both of his businesses.
He said: “Takings are definitely down. From the road closure to the cafe, it is 400 metres.
“Some people do park up and walk over, and we have got a good number of customers that have made the effort to go round, but it’s something they have got to want to do.
“And when we come to harvest time, we will have to have additional grain trailers because of the extra travel. We have to attend to livestock on a daily basis and some are on the other side of the closure.”
Residents claim that they have been given a number of dates for the reopening of the road – the latest being June 30 – but they keep being pushed back.
In a statement, a spokesman for Norfolk County Council, which oversees the roads in the county, declined to give a date on when the road will be reopened, but expressed sympathy for those impacted by the continued closure.
“At present, discussions are still ongoing about the extent and nature of the repairs with various agencies, which involves Norfolk County Council Highways, Norfolk County Council Bridges and the Environment Agency,” he said. “In the interim, the road will have to remain closed.
“We appreciate that this is causing inconvenience locally and would like to thank residents for their patience, but the county council, as the highway authority, has a duty under the Highways Act to keep the highway safe for all users.
“We will be in contact with all residents affected by this closure before repairs commence.”