Derbyshire County Council reopens Peak District village road after residents 'cut off'
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The council shut the B6049 at Brough, near Bradwell, on Monday, December 4, to stabilise the road surface after the bridge wall collapsed and left a potentially serious safety hazard for passing traffic.
While residents knew that work would be required, many were taken by surprise when news of the imminent closure passed along the local grapevine, seemingly without any considerations for how residents would get around the problem.
Clare Garth, who has lived in Bradwell for 12 years and regularly commutes by bus to her job at a Sheffield law firm, said: “The first anyone in the village knew about it was on Friday, when students at Hope Valley College were told it might affect the school bus service, and from there it filtered through the local Facebook group.
“We heard nothing from the council until they put signs up on Monday morning once it was closed, and when we checked the information online it said it would be shut for two weeks. That put the fear of God into people.”
She added: “There are lot of residents around here who don’t drive, and it meant that they had no time to make alternative arrangements and think about how to get to work, how to go shopping or to attend medical appointments.
“There was a massive, immediate knock-on effect. The local sandwich shop announced it was reducing opening hours due to loss of passing trade, parcels weren’t being delivered because couriers couldn’t get through. Some of these things might sound trivial but they add up. The closure was done with total disregard to local people.”
The incident is the latest in a series of transport disruptions affecting the same community stretching back several months, with repeated closures and diversions on other key roads and bus services hit by frequent cancellations.
Clare said: “Sometimes it’s driven me to tears of frustration. This was really the straw that broke the camel’s back and a lot of people are up in arms. Even our local councillors didn’t seem to know what was happening. We’re always being encouraged to take public transport more often, but things like this only put people off.
“Luckily I managed to get a lift organised, I had to leave an hour early and take a long route back through Grindleford. A few people had a good 30-40 minute walk to the nearest bus station out of the village only to find out the service wasn’t running.
“The only routes people had were to walk through the roadworks, often in the dark, or down another single-track lane in icy conditions where cars come through at speed. Either way was dangerous for pedestrians. It was just total pandemonium.”
She added: “It seemed like no one thought about emergency vehicle access and even though the school buses were supposed to come through, on Monday the driver just refused.
“He wanted to drop the children on the wrong side of the works leaving them to walk in the dark along a road with not much street lighting and no pavement in places – the children practically had to have a standoff with the driver to get him to do what he had been instructed.”
After residents began raising their concerns with public officials, on Tuesday, December 5, the council announced it would be bringing in temporary traffic lights and managed to install them a day earlier than it had said.
A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “We had to close the B6049 for an emergency repair to stabilise damage to a retaining wall which supports the road. This damage was caused by Storm Babet but was at risk of worsening under current weather conditions. Unfortunately it was not possible to carry out this work without a full road closure due to the machinery needed.
“The road was closed on December 4, and it reopened on the afternoon of December 6. The road will now have traffic lights to keep road users safe.
“The local bus companies were informed of the emergency closure, and our public transport team worked to allow the school buses access during the work. The emergency services were also aware of the closure.”
They added: “We are looking at works for a permanent repair, which will be next year in better weather conditions. Unfortunately these repairs will need the road closing to complete but we will keep affected communities updated by using advance road closure notices on the road when we have a date for the work. We will also keep local councillors updated.
“We are sorry for any disruption caused but hope residents will understand these works were urgent to stabilise an important retaining wall and the road. We have worked hard to complete the urgent works as possible, which enabled us to reopen the road earlier than planned.”
With the prospect of more roadworks in the New Year, residents have their doubts as to whether the council’s handling of the situation will improve whenever the time comes.
Clare said: “The council have said they’ll have provisions in place but our question is will they, and what provisions will there be?
“We know the bus services won’t run up here unless the council makes it 100 per cent clear to them that the route is open. We just feel they need to support us a bit more and liaise with everyone involved.
“We need plenty of notice, an estimate of how long the work will take and just a bit of open and honest communication from the council.”