‘9-mile diversion is driving us all mad’

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS'The road closure in Heskin
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS'The road closure in Heskin
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A NINE-MILE diversion is continuing to cause traffic chaos across Chorley and Leyland.

United Utilities is carrying out essential work in Eccleston to prevent the build-up of surface water from a new housing development.

The village’s main road, Langton Brow, has been closed as a result, meaning motorists have to drive through five villages to follow the diversion.

Now, residents have been left stranded because buses can’t reach them.

Stagecoach is having to bypass usual stops for the two weeks, and bosses say Eccleston is now ‘isolated’ from the rest of the community.

Marketing manager Colin Nicholson said: “It is a massive diversion to our usual routes, and we are having to miss out large parts of Eccleston.

“People can’t even walk to nearby bus stops, so the area is effectively isolated and cut off from the rest of the villages.

“We do apologise to customers, but the circumstances are out of our control.”

Lancashire County Council has installed some temporary bus stops, but local businesses are also suffering because customers are too inconvenienced to reach them.

The diversion takes people from Eccleston towards Ulnes Walton, through Euxton, Charnock Richard, and back to Heskin.

Manager of Clown Around children’s play centre, Margaret Atkinson, said: “This is badly affecting my business because 90 per cent of my customers come from Heskin, and if they have to drive all the way round through Euxton and Charnock Richard, it’s too much hassle.

“I’ve already had two parties cancelled, and whereas I usually have about 50 children coming on a weekday, there have only been 10 each day.

“For what I’m paying my staff, it’s not even worth opening while the roadworks are here.”

She’s also having to drive an apprentice to the play centre at The Green, because she can no longer get the bus to work.

“I’m really angry about it,” Margaret said. “It’s just a nightmare.

“We should be given some form of compensation for the business we’re losing; it’s just wrong.”

Residents are also concerned about the traffic chaos, as people who know the area are ignoring the diversion signs and using the back roads instead.

Mum-of-one Kerry Welsh, from Heskin, said: “Even lorry drivers are using the country roads because their sat-navs are directing them that way.

“It’s so chaotic during rush hour, and people are coming face to face with big wagons on these narrow roads; it’s ridiculous.

“People are also coming home to Eccleston from work, and just leaving their cars on the roads.

“They’re walking home instead of driving all the way round the diversion route, and Eccleston looks like a big car park at night.”

Barbara Woodcock, 71, from Langton Brow, added: “I don’t understand why they had to close the whole road.

“They can put man on the moon, so why they can’t do this job in sections is beyond me.”

United Utilities said the work is being done to take away surface and rain water from a new housing development which is set to be built on the former Pontin’s site.

A spokesman said: “The nature of the engineering and pipework means that there was no other option than to do the whole road, and the full width of the road, all at once.”

He added that the work is scheduled to finish on October 10.