CHAOS: Roadworks in Barnard Castle town centre
CHAOS: Roadworks in Barnard Castle town centre

ROAD safety works are causing traffic “carnage” in Barnard Castle with motorists backed up in all directions and reports of vehicles taking up to 20 minutes to get through town last Friday, August 3.

The work, which started last week and is being carried out by Durham County Council, will reduce the road width to stop vehicles parking on zigzag lines adjacent to a pedestrian crossing.

Members of the public have been angered by the scheme. Colin Bunn, of Eggleston, said: “The traffic wasn’t going anywhere in Barnard Castle today – all other roads gridlocked. Did anybody think of the effect on local businesses and our valuable summer visitors? What a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. Did anyone ask for this work? I would love to know how much this is costing.”

The work coincided with a two-day closure of Wilson Street for resurfacing work and is expected to take seven weeks.

Temporary traffic lights were installed and 20 roadside parking bays either side of a pedestrian crossing were coned off while workmen were on site.

Mandy Lindsay, manager of Marie Curie charity shop, said: “It was absolute carnage on Friday with the bin lorries. Our delivery driver had to park on the opposite side of the street and then had to run a gauntlet to get across the road. The work may have just started, but I am already 20 per cent down on my takings.”

David Higginson, manager of William Peat’s Butchers, said a council representative had spoken with him and some compromises have been made to get their deliveries in.

Helen Freer, landlady of the Golden Lion pub, said: “It’s a tourist town and it’s ludicrous to have this sort of work going on throughout the kids’ holidays. We are losing business. People normally would pull up outside and pop in for lunch or a drink. They can’t do that now.”

Barnard Castle town councillor George Hallimond said: “It’s a joke. They [Durham County Council] should have properly consulted the town about the timing and the work definitely shouldn’t have been in the school holidays when there are more kids about in the town.”

Mr Hallimond, who uses a wheelchair, said the siting of signage on the pavements either side of the street was making journeys to the town centre even more hazardous, adding it would not be long before there was a serious accident.

John Reed, head of technical services at Durham County Council, said: “The works at Horsemarket in Barnard Castle are part of a road safety initiative and include carriageway resurfacing and the widening of a pavement.

“We plan all of our road works to minimise disruption but it is not always possible to avoid busy times when delivering such a high number of schemes across the county.

“We are also aware of other scheduled works in the Barnard Castle area, including Startforth Gateways and Startforth Bank, and are required to plan our works around such commitments.

“The road will remain open at all times, with lights in place to control traffic, and access to homes and businesses will not be affected. This will lessen the impact but some disruption is inevitable and we are grateful for everyone’s patience."