Derbyshire villages demand answers from county council over 14-month road closure

Residents of a rural Derbyshire community have called a public meeting next week to demand answers from the county council over a main access road which has been shut for more than a year.
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Leashaw links the villages of Dethick, Lea and Holloway with Crich to the east and Cromford and the A6 to the west, but due to a landslip the road has been closed since December 2022.

The parish council is increasingly concerned with the length of time it is taking Derbyshire County Council to reopen the route to traffic and provide plans and timescales for full reinstatement, so has invited county representatives to address a meeting at the Florence Nightingale Memorial Hall on Tuesday, March 5, at 7pm.

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A spokesperson for the parish said: “The delay is having a massive impact on local businesses and residents. In addition, bus routes and farm traffic are currently diverted and emergency vehicle access impeded.

The landslip has worsened since works were last carried out in late 2023.The landslip has worsened since works were last carried out in late 2023.
The landslip has worsened since works were last carried out in late 2023.

“Some businesses that rely on passing trade are now effectively on a cul-de-sac and have already had to endure the Covid pandemic and a previous road closure, which lasted almost three years, from 2019 until late 2022. Lea Road, the other main access road had only been open for about a week, when Leashaw was closed. This means the area has been affected by road closures for over four years.”

One such business is Robin Maycock Butchers and Bakers, which has operated in Holloway since 1977 and has seen a notable loss of trade in the past year.

Owner Jonathan Maycock said: “It’s no good really. We do hear from customers who say they’d come in more often if the road was open and we missed quite a lot of passing trade during the tourist season last year.

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“There are only two businesses left in the village, plus the Smedleys factory shop and the Lea Rhododendron Gardens which will open in summer. There are other roads in, but we used to get customers coming from Crich, Ripley, Alfreton and they all now face a big diversion.

Robin Maycock Butchers is one of the last remaining businesses in Holloway.Robin Maycock Butchers is one of the last remaining businesses in Holloway.
Robin Maycock Butchers is one of the last remaining businesses in Holloway.

“We offer a free delivery service and we’re trying to promote the shop on social media, but the road closure has come at a bad time combined with factors like energy prices and the cost-of-living – it’s all having an impact.”

He added: “12 months ago we had a meeting in the village and Severn Trent and the county council were all guns blazing that they’d have it reopen by the autumn. They haven’t delivered on any of those promises and they’ve been very slow even updating us on progress.

“They were supposed to do a safety audit to determine whether they could reopen the road as a single lane. That was back in November and we’ve not been told the outcome of it even with the parish council pushing for answers. How long does it take to publicise the findings?

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“That shows how seriously they’re taking the impact on local businesses. There is little sense of urgency. It’s very disappointing. You pay your taxes and you expect something in return. We just want them to get on and do it but they’re keeping us guessing all the time.”

Leon White, co-owner of Chase Café on Leashaw.Leon White, co-owner of Chase Café on Leashaw.
Leon White, co-owner of Chase Café on Leashaw.

Down the road at the Chase Café, owner Leon White shares the same sense of frustration.

He said: “The way it’s been handled is diabolical. We’ve had promises five or six times that it was going to be reopened in some form, and every time the county council has put on another extension.

“The last time we saw anyone working on the road was mid-December, when they put in pipes and a load of sandbags. Then the land slipped again so we’re back to the council monitoring it. Whatever happens, we end up back at square one.”

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He added: “We’ve had lots of support from people in the community but there is only so much regular trade in a village this size. The passing trade has been completely wiped out, and we used to have customers come in every week without fail from Crich, a three-minute drive down the road. We’re treading water rather than floating along nicely.

Derbyshire County Council say engineers are working to design a solution.Derbyshire County Council say engineers are working to design a solution.
Derbyshire County Council say engineers are working to design a solution.

“A couple of our regular customers are carers and they say it’s massively affected their work too. There are people in the village unable to travel and now struggling to feed themselves. Residents have had to set up WhatsApp groups to help each other get to the shops.”

The uncertainty has prompted speculation over the council’s financing for repairs, given the authority has announced a multi-million pound budget shortfall between 2023 and 2025.

In response to questions from the Derbyshire Times, the county council offered little reassurance to residents that the route might reopen soon and said it had no duty to compensate affected businesses.

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The authority insists that specialist civil engineers and geologists are actively looking for a solution to fix the landslip and that until that has been designed it is not possible to put a timeframe on repairs.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council added: “We understand how frustrating the continuing road closure at Leashaw because of the landslip is for residents and local businesses. We are doing all we can to find a solution and have experienced designers working on that now.

“This situation is made more complicated as Severn Trent have a large water pipe under the road, and up until last September had said they would fix the landslip and the road. Since then, we had been working on temporarily reopening one side of the road, but further movement of the road meant this wasn’t possible.”

They added: “We are keeping in close touch with the parish council to keep them up to date with where we are with this important project, and also have a residents e-newsletter which we send out when we have any news. We have attended several public meetings with the local community, and will again be present at the next one.”

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