‘I’ll be bankrupt in two weeks’ – Fury as roadworks push businesses to the brink

Queues on Crockey Hill at the roadworks on Monday. Photographs: David Dunning
15 Jan 2018 @ 8.05 pm
| News, Transport

For five years, David Martin has run Lodge Cottage Farm Shop.

It’s a small business which sells everything from locally produced pies, cakes and vegetables to smokeless coal.

The shop, just off the A19, has built up a loyal customer base – but David said it could close within two weeks because of the roadworks outside its entrance at Crockey Hill.

“The traffic’s horrendous. It’s at a standstill. People are sitting their for god knows how long,” he told YorkMix.

“People can’t get into our business. We’ll not last two weeks. It will put us out of business. We’ll be bankrupt.”

Behind closed doors

The temporary traffic lights are causing major hold ups

David said that City of York Council hadn’t informed him of their plans.

“We trade seven days a week. We trade on small margins. We’ve got bills to pay like everybody else. They have gone ahead, they’re not bothered about anybody’s business whatsoever.

“The first thing we knew about it was when they put the signs up saying they were going to start work.

“I’ve been in touch with the highways department and they won’t give you any answers. They are fobbing people off.

“They’ve done this behind closed doors. It’s absolutely shocking.”

He said neighbouring business the Strawberry Fields Café had suffered a similar drop-off of trade.

‘This will become a drag track’

The A19 at the junction of Crockey Hill and Wheldrake Lane before the work started. Photograph © Google Street View

He was also concerned that the plans would turn an already dangerous stretch of road, with a supposed 40mph limit, into a “death trap”.

“We’ve had an issue here for five years about speeding,” he said. “Nobody does 40mph here. They do 50, 60mph.

“Basically they are building a death trap. I’ve looked at the plans. It will be faster and more dangerous – there will be a fatality, because this will be used as a drag track.”

And he had another major worry about the roadworks, which are scheduled to last 16 weeks.

“It’s not just my business that’s affected. There are ambulances coming up and down. If they’re a minute or two minutes late, somebody could die.”

The road wasn’t built for the 20K vehicles it carries every day, he said. But the “quick fix” won’t solve the problem, particularly with the increase in traffic caused by developments like Germany Beck in Fulford.

“What they should do is a complete new road, a bypass into York. But they haven’t got the money for that.

“They’re creating a big mess. I can see it – everybody in York can see it – but they won’t listen.”

‘We’re sorry for the delays’

The Fulford interchange looking towards Crockey Hill, with York Designer Outlet on the right. Photograph © Google Street View

City of York Council has acknowledged the problems caused by the Crockey Hill roadworks, applied on Monday (January 15) for emergency closure of Wheldrake Lane in both directions.

“The emergency closure will reduce traffic flows at the road improvements on the A19 at Crockey Hill, where the council is creating an extra southbound lane to ease rush-hour congestion, particularly at the A64 Fulford interchange,” a council spokesman said.

“We’re sorry for the lengthy delays which people experienced this morning,” said James Gilchrist, assistant director for transport.

“There is no way to avoid disruption when we have to carry out road improvements on busy routes, and we have taken steps to limit it.

“We’ve warned residents and commuters well in advance through the media and on-street signage, scheduled the most disruptive roadworks at one of the quietest times of the year, are working extended hours to get it done as quickly as possible, and designed the scheme to limit these delays.

“While the delays would have reduced as we make progress, we’ve applied for the emergency closure of Wheldrake Lane after seeing how the traffic flows have built up today.

“This large volume of traffic – over 20,000 vehicles pass through every day – reinforces the need for these improvements.

“They will have a real and positive impact on the long-term problem of southbound congestion – especially where the A64 meets Fulford Road.”