Community in chaos

MAJOR roadworks in Banwell have been causing chaos not just for motorists but the whole community. Several roads through the village have been closed for nearly two weeks for major drainage improvements. Residents in the High Street say their narrow road

MAJOR roadworks in Banwell have been causing chaos not just for motorists but the whole community.Several roads through the village have been closed for nearly two weeks for major drainage improvements.Residents in the High Street say their narrow road is being clogged up by motorists avoiding the roadworks.Linda Coombs, who lives in High Street, said: "High Street is supposed to be for residential access only, but far too many drivers are moving the 'road closed' sign to the side and cutting through. In 20 minutes I watched out of my window and counted 60 cars. "The road is only wide enough for one vehicle, so as soon as there is a car coming in the other direction you have gridlock."Mrs Coombs claimed drivers are also cutting up Littlefields Avenue.She said: "On one occasion my husband was in Littlefields Avenue at 6.30pm and it took him 45 minutes to travel the 200 yards to our home."People were getting out of their cars and shouting at each other. One morning a full-sized holiday coach came down the road. I couldn't believe it. If there had been a fire the people in the houses wouldn't have even been able to get out of their own front doors."Motorists are also using a narrow lane through Puxton as a rat run. There are ditches on either side of the road which have been filled with sand by villagers so cars do not roll into them when avoiding traffic.North Somerset Council has urged motorists to stick to the official diversion route via Congresbury and Churchill.It also said any roads damaged by the volume of traffic will be repaired once the Banwell work is completed.GPs based in Winscombe, who also work in Banwell, say the roadworks have created difficulties in reaching patients.Dr John Jackson, of Winscombe Surgery, said: "The work has significantly affected us. It's particularly difficult if we have any emergency visits to patients living on the other side of Banwell to Winscombe because we have to take the long way round."Between 8-9am and 5.30-7pm there is only one doctor on duty, so if there is an emergency call and the doctor is on the wrong side of the village there are delays."Bosses at Thatchers Cider, based in Sandford, have had to put a sign outside their site saying it is 'open for business as usual' because the road improvements are affecting trade.Managing director Martin Thatcher: "It's too early to put any figures on it but there has certainly been fewer people in the shop."We understand this work needs to be done, but we're just willing the workers to get on with it and hope they complete it within the eight weeks so as to minimise the disruption."We'd like to remind customers we're still open for business and they can get to us via Churchill."Churchill Community School and North Somerset Council have arranged new pick-up points for students living in Banwell.The school's bursar, Gordon Robert, said: "The new times are working well and students are getting to school on time but some students living in Banwell have to walk a lot further to get on the bus in the morning or when they go home in the evening and this has caused some concern to parents."North Somerset Council's executive member for strategic planning and transport, John Crockford-Hawley, said: "I urge local people to continue to support their local shops and businesses during what is obviously a difficult time."Parts of West Street, Castle Hill, High Street and the entire length of Dark Lane in Banwell are closed for the drainage improvements.