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WOW, WHEELIE?: Residents arm themselves with bins amidst traffic chaos in Northchurch

 Published on: 14th September 2023   |   By: Annabel Stock   |   Category: Uncategorized

Residents are up in arms after multiple works caused traffic chaos in Northchurch.

Over recent months, a construction site developing 10 new houses on Northchurch High Street installed traffic light controls to enable construction.

Further road closures were caused by The Water Board and Cadent Gas, who were connecting supplies to the new properties and later digging more holes to repair both water and gas leaks.

As repairs were carried out, traffic lights were put in place to control the traffic flow past the works, using the High Street itself.

Eventually, Cadent Gas completely closed the High Street from both ends causing the flow of traffic into both ends of The Meads and chaos prevailed with cars meeting on a single traffic flow causing damage to residents’ vehicles, gardens and near misses to pedestrians.

On Friday, September 1 at 8.00 am, a supervisor from The Hertfordshire Highways arrived amidst the chaos and, when questioned, stated that the Water Board were at fault: work on the water supply was scheduled to have finished the previous evening and the barriers and traffic lights should have been removed. Cadent Gas were at liberty to take the necessary measures to control an emergency situation.

Residents took action by using their wheelie bins to block the pavements to avoid further injury and damage to verges but were reprimanded for this.

By Wednesday, September 6 all obstructions were removed, the road opened and traffic flow returned to normal. Residents, however, are still frustrated. Dave Allen said:

“Of course the residents are angry. Not only for ourselves but for the road users from motorists to HGV users. The scene resembled a jesting contest between the combatants, meeting head-to-head at a single passing point. Yes, it really did bring out the worst in some people.

“The authorities have made it quite clear that they will not release any Traffic Management Plans or indeed even acknowledge there was a problem. The hope is that the complaints that they received directly from the residents may just lead to some sort of review of their procedures as to overall accountability when multiple trades are working at the same location on and off in such a short space of time.”

A spokesperson for Cadent said: “We received a report of a minor gas escape. A full repair was scheduled for the beginning of September, but unfortunately these had to be postponed due to overrunning works by another utility company.”

A spokesperson for Affinity Water said: “Affinity Water apologise for any disruption caused. During the works, they encountered some engineering difficulties which delayed the work. They have been granted a permit to complete the remainder of the works on October 7 and 8, with two-way traffic lights in place.”

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “The disruption was caused by a clash between two utility companies works. Cadent Gas had to carry out emergency works to fix a gas leak. However, when they arrived at the site, they found Affinity Water already working at the location without a permit.

“We sent an inspector to the site and told Affinity Water to clear the site as soon as possible. We have issued a fine to Affinity Water for working on the highway without a valid permit.”

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