Apology after Darlington roadworks cause misery for residents and businesses

Road works on Woodland Road, Darlington. Picture: Sarah Caldecott.
Road works on Woodland Road, Darlington. Picture: Sarah Caldecott.

A leading councillor has apologised for troublesome road works on a busy route - but has warned there is more disruption ahead to fix them.

The works on Woodland Road, Darlington started in March with the aim to improve access for pedestrians and cyclists, but prompted complaints over "never-ending" noise and traffic disruption.

They were raised as an issue during a Darlington Borough Council meeting.

Councillor Ian Haszeldine said: "You'll see the level of complaints and issues that people have raised about it, one or two actually stating it's a waste of time, a waste of money."

Read more: Darlington roadworks causes months of disturbances for residents

He asked Cllr Andy Keir, cabinet member for local services: "I just wondered if you will be apologising to the residents in that area when Woodland Road has to be relifted and redone because the surface that's been laid is incorrect.

"I just wondered how we missed the ball on that. The tarmac and other stuff that's been put down doesn't meet the standards that we expect and it's going to be lifted and redone."

In response, Cllr Keir said: "We used a contractor we've used many times. I don't know the reason for their poor performance and quality this time, but there is an issue to be acknowledged.

"We've had the business in to look at that and they've agreed it's not to standard and it will be repaired.

"Obviously that's going to cause some disruption to residents."

He has since clarified this work will not be done until next year.

Read more: Darlington's town centre roadworks slammed by furious residents

He added in the meeting: "Should I apologise to people? The council's taken care to do that. Fair enough, if you want an apology, I can apologise, I don't think there's any hassle in doing that. It's an easy thing to do.

"What's more difficult is getting it right the first time, and that's what we need to do from now on."

He added later: "If a supplier has not provided the surface to standard than obviously the council cannot accept that.

"The ideal thing for this is right first time and I think that's got to be a mantra."

Cllr Andy Keir. Picture: Northern Echo.

The Woodland Road was the first phase of the West Park/Faverdale to Darlington town centre route, "the first route being developed using new national guidelines for cycle infrastructure design", says a council report.

The report says: "The work on Woodland Road Phase 1 is now complete. The delivery of this phase which is on Darlington’s busiest arterial route has been complex and challenging."

It adds the council will "see if there are any improvements that can be adopted for subsequent phases", the next of which is the Duke Street section which will start soon.

Read more: Darlington roadworks - Business losing customers and resident hit out over Woodland Road

Cllr Stephen Harker said there had been a "barrage of justified complaints from residents".

He added cyclists had been cycling the wrong way on the lanes: "At some point someone could cause a serious accident."

Cllr Keir replied: "It's a new system. I would think that cyclists should understand the Highway Code as well as anybody else.

"I think the signage is there, the Highway Code is there, I don't know what else we can do other than education and enforcement.

"The fact we've had a couple of issues here doesn't override the principle that we're trying to make a transport system that's inclusive.

"When you're looking to enhance the public realm and the highways, consideration will need to be made for everybody and that includes cyclists.

"It's going to be a struggle but I think that fact that we do have plans to make those routes active travel-friendly I think is correct. There may be some bumps along the road."

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