Work to replace traffic lights around Coppins Bridge has been pushed back to next year after complaints over a lack of consultation and fears it would disrupt the Christmas retail period in Newport.
The scheme was set to start on Monday, under the Highways PFI contract, but has been deferred amid concerns raised by local councillor Geoff Brodie, who called the work ‘massively disruptive’.
Speaking at the Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet meeting last night, Cllr Brodie asked why he and only two other Newport councillors had been told about the plans just 4 days before the work was due to start.
Cllr Brodie said the 3 councillors had been invited to attend a briefing with Island Roads, on such short notice that only he was able to attend. He said he was ‘bombarded with information’ and had no opportunity to discuss the scheme with colleagues.
During previous improvement schemes around Newport, including at St Mary’s Junction and St George’s Way, he said, councillors were given plenty of notice and had the opportunity to request changes to diversions and traffic management schemes.
The lack of consultation, Cllr Brodie said, was not what he expected from a council that was ‘transparent and accountable’.
The replacements were supposed to take place between April 2018 and March 2019, as part of the 7-year PFI core investment period, but were delayed so as to not add more disruption at the same time as larger schemes.
Councillor Phil Jordan, cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, said the timing was considered the most appropriate as it was outside of the peak visitor time and no work was scheduled for two weeks either side of Christmas.
Work would have taken place overnight with diversions, with lane and road closures in the Fairlee Road and Staplers Road area not planned until mid-November. Cllr Jordan said this would have given time for a consultation period with councillors to take place.
Having considered the feedback, however, Cllr Jordan said the work programme was being revised to allow further communication with all councillors and work will now commence later but be completed before the start of the visitor season.
Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, ward representative for Newport Central and one of the councillors unable to attend the Island Roads briefing, said it was important the community is consulted but was pleased to hear the scheme had been pushed back. She said Christmas was starting early in the county town this year with the festive light switch on, on November 20, which the community council has spent thousands on, and Small Business Saturday.
Cllr Jones-Evans reminded those in charge of the highways schemes that the community council and other regeneration groups were there to work alongside the Isle of Wight Council, ensuring the schemes run smoothly.
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