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Torquay town centre descends into traffic chaos

By Herald Express  |  Posted: September 05, 2013

essential work: The seafront was closed to allow the crane on the left to help in repairing the other crane. Don Proctor

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SHOP owners say trade was hit as Torquay town centre suffered traffic chaos last weekend.

Problem arose when part of the main seafront road was closed for repairs to the giant Palm Court crane.

They were compounded after a man died in a tragic fall at Lower Union Lane, closing roads around Union Street on Friday.

At the same time motorists were confused by diversion signs around the town when the Union Square car park also had to be closed because of a motorbike fire.

The seafront re-opened 11 hours ahead of schedule on Saturday at 6.45pm.

But Torquay town centre trade leader John Doherty, of Dot's Pantry in Union Street, said: "The traffic was monstrous."

Torbay Council has confirmed it had a number of complaints from businesses, organisations and members of the public affected by the congestion.

A council spokesman said: "Torbay Road next to Rock Walk was scheduled to close on Friday until 6am on Sunday morning to enable the crane at the Abbey Sands development to be removed, repaired and replaced due to a mechanical fault.

"This was in the interest of public safety with action being needed while weather conditions were suitable.

"The operation was completed successfully and as a result the road was reopened on Saturday evening at 6.45pm, over 11 hours ahead of schedule.

"Unfortunately, other unplanned incidents on Friday affected the movement of traffic in Torquay."

Mr Doherty, of the Torquay BID steering group, said: "The traffic on Friday was a continuous stream.

"I can't see how it could have been avoided. Obviously the crane had to be repaired and it had to be done in fine weather. It would have been worse if it had fallen over on to the seafront.

"The two car parks being closed at the same time was not what anybody would have planned. One poor soul lost his life and there was a fire."

Trevor Walker, at the Kitchen Shop, said: "This year has been a nightmare because of the unnecessary actions Torbay Council] is taking.

"Our takings are down 20 per cent this year due to road works. It's silly.

"Our takings were significantly lower on Friday and Saturday and we're not pleased. Every time the seafront closes, we suffer. We need to encourage tourists to come back to Torbay, but it's difficult when there are diversions. I know the crane had to be taken down, but it was a terrible time to do so."

Rob Viney, at Picknics sandwich shop, said: "Not only has the seafront been closed over a busy weekend, we have also had road works outside our shop for seven weeks this summer. The council don't seem to consider businesses and how doing work over the summer inconveniences us.

"Tourism seems to have taken a back seat for them."

Jane Wicks, at Lippy's boutique, said: "It was very quiet over the weekend. I think people were confused about where they could go. It was mayhem on the roads."

Phil Norman, at sandwich bar Licence to Fill, said: "Takings were definitely down when the road was closed. The whole high street was quieter than usual.

"I appreciate things have to be done for health and safety purposes, but the problem should have been resolved throughout the night."

Deby Yates, at New Tribe, said: "Holidaymakers just couldn't find their way around the diversion. Our trade was down a lot at the weekend. "Changeover day tends to be on a Sunday for tourists, so their prime shopping times are Fridays and Saturdays."

Eddie Cochrane, at the Toy Sale, said: "What sort of logic were the council using to close down part of the seafront? They keep shutting it off. That road is the lifeblood of the town centre.

"The workmen should have worked late into the night and made sure it was fixed before it disrupted the town."

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