RESIDENTS, motorists, politicians and businesses have reacted with anger after the start of major works to repair a level crossing in Leek completed just four months ago.
Chaos prevailed in the town for five months last year when controversial road network changes took place, as part of the Sainsbury’s redevelopment of the Churnet Works in Macclesfield Road.
However, within a few weeks of completion parts of the highway crossing in Haywood Street started to sink, with the county council being forced to take up bricks set into the highway and replace them with temporary Tarmac. The crossing in Ashbourne Road has also become defective.
Now, following the start of a further six weeks of upheaval in the town to repair the crossings, a call has been made for a public inquiry to be held and those responsible for the original works to be held accountable.
The crossing in Haywood Street will have each carriageway closed for three weeks at a time.
Self-employed book-keeper and Leek resident, Julie Pointon, said: “Driving around the town is a nightmare and chaotic. Why is it taking three weeks for each side of the crossings? “The traffic lights seem to only let a few cars through and queues are forming in all directions to the town centre.
“This work is again driving people away from the town.” Town mayor Pam Wood said she was appalled by the state the town was in again. She said: “The state of affairs we have found ourselves in now should never have happened.
“Someone must be held accountable for the lack of care that has been shown.
“Our traders are depending on the tourist trade to make up for the months when trade was poor because of the road works. Leek shopkeepers must be tearing their hair out.
“Surely so much has gone wrong during the course of this project that it is now time for a public inquiry to be held.” County councillor for Leek South, Neal Podmore, agreed that no-one wanted the latest upheaval.
Mr Podmore said: “The job was not done well enough and it has got to be put right. We want a high quality finish. I admit it was not done to the standards required.” “To get this finished to a high standard there has got to be inconvenience, which I understand no-one really wants.
“Leek is holding up really well in these difficult times and this work will be finished to the high standard the town deserves.” Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Councillor Sybil Ralphs, said she was “seething” with anger.
She added: “I thought we were starting a new chapter and had turned the corner.
This will again disrupt the town.
“This is not the fault of the Moorlands council as we did not want these road works again. The work should have been done correctly in the first place.
“It seems many things have gone wrong including the use of the wrong materials, wrong specifications, no proper supervision and bad workmanship, which have all contributed to more road works.” Kevin Park, who own a cycle shop on The Smithfield Centre, said he has had to allow more time to get into the town as traffic is constantly backing up, particularly along Haywood Street.
He said: “I thought there was a glimmer of hope, then I saw the signs for six weeks of road works go up. It was like your feet had been kicked away from under you.
“I just hope people get through the storm, as this should never have happened.
Someone has allowed shoddy workmanship, but each council seems to blame one another.” Henry Fox who runs Moments card shop in The Smithfield Centre said: “This is damaging trade and at a time when I have got a lot of Mothers’ Day cards in for Sunday. I have rung the council for compensation and a rate reduction.
“While this is going on there should be free parking for people, to attract shoppers into town.”