Holt traders fear ‘crazy’ roadworks will hit business

A half-term holiday closure of a major road in north Norfolk has sparked fears it will leave town traders at Holt marooned.

Truck drivers face a 21-mile diversion to get around the works on Norwich Road and Letheringsett Hill over a weekend next month.

But traders say the nine days of delays and weekend closures have come at the worst possible time as retailers and cafes looked forward to a surge in visitors on the first school holiday since Christmas.

They and town councillors have appealed for a change in dates but highways chiefs say the work has been timed during the school break to minimise disruption.

The A148, B1110 and B1149 will be resurfaced from February 11 when 20m sections of Norwich Road and Thornage Road will be shut.

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During the week stop-go boards will be used to direct cars around the work, which will extend from Norwich Road up to Letheringsett Hill and include the bypass roundabout.

But another closure will be brought in for the last phase – over the weekend of February 18 and 19 – when 70m of Norwich Road from the High Street junction up towards Letheringsett Hill will be shut.

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Charles Butler, who runs Butler's Pantry and restaurant in Appleyard, said: 'It seems to me the worst possible time, virtually marooning Holt. Half term is a vital time for retail trade and I think it's going to have a disastrous effect on our businesses.

'We usually expect our trade to have a big boost then and if we don't get that it's going to make life, which is difficult enough, even more difficult.'

Town councillors were equally concerned about the blow the �203,000 worth of essential works could cause to businesses, but also blasted the diversion via Thursford and Saxthorpe that motorists will be advised to negotiate.

Chairman Bryan Payne said the lengthy diversion was 'crazy' but was also particularly worried about access for residents of Letheringsett Hill.

'There isn't a short way round if you live there,' he added. 'I don't know why they can't do stop go boards. I know it will still be chaos but at least traffic will get through, on a very busy weekend.'

Norfolk County Council has apologised for the inconvenience the works may cause and said they had been planned to take place in the half term week so as not to cause disruption to Holt Primary School, which is at the centre of the improvements.

The authority also said the variation in traffic management is being brought in to help 'minimise disruption' and the impact on businesses.

Mark Roper, NCC engineer, said: 'Road closures are a last resort, we know they do effect the public and businesses and it's not something we do without thinking about.'

He said the diversion was so lengthy as the council had to provide an alternative route on a road of similar classification to that being shut.

'I known there are shorter routes, which people may use because they know of them, but we can't actually physically direct them there,' he added.

? For more information about the roadworks call NCC general enquiries on 0344 800 8020

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