Business fury at A12 roadworks

By Sarah ChambersBUSINESS owners have voiced their anger, claiming the closure of part of the A12 brought takings down by as much as two thirds.Long diversions were put in place at the weekend while the first phase of resurfacing work on the A12 at Farnham and Stratford St Andrew was carried out by Suffolk County Council.

By Sarah Chambers

BUSINESS owners have voiced their anger, claiming the closure of part of the A12 brought takings down by as much as two thirds.

Long diversions were put in place at the weekend while the first phase of resurfacing work on the A12 at Farnham and Stratford St Andrew was carried out by Suffolk County Council.

Further work along that stretch of the A12 are planned over the next two, or possibly three, weekends.

Suffolk Coastal district councillor Colin Hart said some business owners in his Hacheston ward were “absolutely furious and steamed up” about the works.

“They could not have picked a worse time of year to do this and it's also been extremely badly sign-posted. They should have done more to make it clear the businesses were open,” he added.

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Mr Hart said businesses in some villages had been badly affected by the loss of trade at a time when a large number of visitors were still arriving in the area.

“The businesses there have suffered enormously and of course this is a very important time of year for them. I'm very, very cross about it,” he added.

Paul Thomas, owner of the Farmcafe at Marlesford on the A12, said: “It's just terrible for me. I'm a roadside café and I've suffered - even though the roadworks are five miles from me.”

He estimated his business took about a third of what it would normally expect at the weekend.

“I just can't believe they aren't doing these repairs between January and April. At that sort of time there are only about 12,000 cars a day - at the moment, there are about 35,000 cars a day,” said Mr Thomas.

David Garnett, owner of Garnett's Gardens in Hacheston, also found his takings were down to a third of what he would normally expect.

He criticised a lack of communication from the county council and the signage, particularly at the Wickham Market roundabout that he felt was deterring customers from visiting businesses towards Framlingham.

“I would not take issue with them about the timing of it because they have got to do work some time. It's more the complete disregard for the businesses beyond Wickham Market,” said Mr Garnett.

“Basically I'm quite well-known for my winter pansies at this time of year. It's having a serious effect. It's serious for us because once we get beyond mid-October, then that window is gone to us.”

A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said the roadworks had been specifically timed to avoid the busy summer tourist season and programmed for the weekends to avoid weekday traffic peaks.

“Businesses along the closed length of road were consulted about the works and signs stating that local businesses were open as usual have been placed along the road,” she added.

“We are prepared to review the positioning of these signs if any businesses have specific issues.”

sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk