Abusive resident forces road workers to abandon repairs

Suffolk Highways staff have continued to work during the lockdown while observing social distancing.

Suffolk Highways staff have continued to work during the lockdown while observing social distancing. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A team of Suffolk Highways workers sent to repair potholes in Witnesham, near Ipswich, were forced to leave the road unfixed after being shouted and sworn at by an angry resident.

The incident happened earlier this week after they turned up to repair the road surface, which had been reported though the Suffolk Highways online reporting system.

A spokesman for Suffolk Highways said: “Because of social distancing rules, our staff now turn up in more than one vehicle and that seemed to upset a local resident, who became very abusive to them.

“They tried to explain what they were doing and how they were working within the rules of social distancing – but the abuse continued so they decided to leave with the road still unrepaired.

“We will have to send another team along at a different time and hope that they don’t get the same reaction when they turn up.”

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The spokesman said most people were very appreciative when teams turn up to repair roads – although there are sometimes questions, especially when they turn up in several vehicles.

When the need for social distancing is explained, this usually satisfies people. “We have had occasional incidents where we have to leave, but thankfully that is pretty rare,” he added.

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Witnesham Parish Council chairman Chris Rush said there were some narrow roads in the village which did not have passing places and where roadworks could cause serious disruption.

But he said most people were very happy to see teams fixing potholes.

“I am sorry to hear about this,” he said of the incident.

“Perhaps if they had let us (the parish council) know, then we could have contacted the households in the area and told them what was going to happen.

“When there have been roadworks on the main road through the village, there have been some quite long diversions – but there should be no reason for this.”

MORE: Suffolk Highways tackles more potholes during lockdown

Suffolk Highways teams have been continuing to work throughout the lockdown, but there have been changes to the way staff work to take account of social distancing rules. The number of potholes being repaired has actually increased over recent weeks, because there has been less traffic on the roads to cause problems for the repair crews.

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