CHARD businesses, residents and emergency services say they could be shut in by a major road closure next month.
Companies and homes on A358 Furnham Road are set for nearly a week of disruption after Somerset County Council (SCC) announced plans to close the road without consultation, say residents.
Last month, the News revealed that plans were in place to close the 0.3 mile stretch of road with drivers being told to take the long way around - 22 miles longer.
Two district councillors, Garry Shortland and Amanda Broom, held an independent consultation in April as they feared SCC would go ahead with the roadworks before talking to residents.
Ryan Sheahan is the director of Uniscope Ltd, based on the Furnham Close Industrial Estate.
He said: “We didn’t get consulted, we just got some paperwork that said, ‘it will be closed between then and then’.
“They said that we could book in for lorries to come through but that is not how it normally works. With lorries, you don’t know when they are going to be coming and going.
“We also have another company that is delivering on local farms so that is more lorries, and then with me and the staff travelling in, I don’t know how we are going to get everything through.
“I use it every day and I haven’t noticed the road is terrible. I don’t know why they are doing it to be honest.
“It would be a bit of a nuisance. We start earlier than 7.30am. We normally have people in from 6am and most other buildings in the estate do as well.”
Helen Harmes, office manager at O&H Removals on Furnham Road, said: “It wouldn’t affect us a lot because we are not open at that time. It will cause quite a bit of disruption on the compound here, with other companies starting at 7am, maybe earlier.
“There are some lumps and bumps in the road but nothing major.”
A spokesman for Doncaster Aerospace said they didn’t receive their notice of road closure until early this week, after it had appeared in the press.
Joe, branch manager for Total Plumbing Supplies and Escape Bathrooms in Beeching Close, said: “We haven’t had a letter or anything in the post. We have seen the sign on Friday or over the weekend. We normally have some people in from 7am, so we will just have to see how strict they are with the road closure.
A national spokesman for the company added: “We didn’t know about it at all.”
After Cllrs Shortland and Broom raised their fears over lack of consultation, a spokesperson for SCC insisted that a full consultation would be held before any tarmac was dug up.
The spokesman said: “We intend to resurface the A358 at Furnham Road this financial year. We recognise the sensitivity of the area and will be undertaking a substantial communications exercise, similar to that which was carried out in advance of the recently completed resurfacing of the High Street.
“We will do this as soon as we are in a position to confirm specific details and will liaise with Chard Town Council and other key stakeholders leading up to and throughout the work.”
The roadworks involve removing the old surface of the road to an average depth of 50mm before laying a new material using specialist equipment.
The work will affect the stretch of road between the B&Q traffic lights and Thorndun Park Drive and will be split into two phases.
Preparatory works are due to start on May 22 and run for three weeks with work being done between 7.30am to 6pm and excluding weekends.
Furnham Road will remain open throughout this phase, although temporary traffic lights will be required at times in certain locations.
Carriageway resurfacing work will then begin on June 15 and is expected to take five nights.
The road will be closed for this stage of works, which will take place between 6pm and 7.30am, and not at the weekends.
Cllr Broom revealed this to residents last month, although at the time SCC said they were not ready to say when works would be taking place.
A spokesman for Somerset County Council has now added: “When we close a road we have a duty to provide an alternative which is along the same class road and is suitable for all vehicles.
"In this case we cannot direct all traffic, which may include lorries and heavy vehicles, to use the residential Thorndun Park Drive.
"However, diversions are advisory and drivers are always free to use their own local knowledge and judgement to find their own way.
"We have met with the town council to discuss the extent of the scheme, have written to around 300 affected residents and will do our best to ensure access to their properties is maintained.
"There may be some disruption at times but we would advise anyone with a specific request to speak directly to the staff on site."
The spokesman added: "Due to the narrow width of the road, and to ensure the safety of the workforce and the travelling public, it will be necessary to close the road during working hours (6pm to 7.30am), with staff available on site to help with any specific requests for access.
"This is vital resurfacing work to improve a busy road near the town centre.
"Although we’ll be taking all reasonable steps to minimise disruption, we do appreciate that some inconvenience is unavoidable. Please take note of the details and plan your journeys carefully."
For more information, visit www.travelsomerset.co.uk.