Firms slam agency over stadium signs

BUSINESS leaders have branded signage from a new A12 junction created beside Colchester United’s new football stadium as “ludicrous”.

Essex Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has accused the Highways Agency of making life difficult for football fans and for conference attendees who use the A12 to reach the Weston Homes Community Stadium by failing to include reference on the signage that the new junction leads to the stadium.

But the Highways Agency said it had put up temporary signs and believed this was “the right approach”.

Essex FSB chairman Iain Wicks said: “This 10,000 capacity stadium is not just the home for Colchester United Football Club but is also a very significant conference and meeting venue for the business community across north-east Essex and south Suffolk.

“As there is no railway station at the stadium visitors and staff have to arrive by road.

“The investment of around �12million to create junction 28 on the A12 immediately adjacent to the stadium should have eased traffic congestion in Colchester by taking traffic direct from a major trunk road to the 600 space stadium car park.

“Sadly the bureaucrats at the Highways Agency decided that easing congestion and reducing the carbon footprint of vehicles was not possible and refused to allow the signs for this junction to include reference to it being the access for the community stadium.

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“This is a ludicrous decision and once again demonstrates how out of touch the Highways Agency is with the real world.

“The end result is that temporary roadside signs have had to be installed along the A12 to alert motorists to the forthcoming junction which is additional roadside clutter causing distraction and potential road safety issues for motorists.

“It would have been far easier to include the stadium on the signs originally designed for junction 28 as that would have been a one-off cost as well as being clear for motorist to follow.”

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “Tackling congestion is one of our top priorities.

“Consent for the development and construction of the stadium included requirements for travel planning measures including encouraging people to use public transport and providing visitors travelling by road with information on how to reach the stadium via the new junction. The Highways Agency considered these measures to be adequate.

“As a short-term measure, following the opening of the new junction, we are providing temporary signs along the A12 which will stay in place until later this year. We believe this is the right approach.

“We are happy to consider applications for signs on the trunk road but any application would have to meet standard requirements, including demonstrating that there was a need for signing.”