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Newton Abbot revamp causing injuries and business strife

Wednesday, 10 July 2024 06:41

By Guy Henderson, local democracy reporter

Roadworks in Queen Street, Newton Abbot (Image courtesy: Guy Henderson)

But councillors are urged to get behind it

Controversial roadworks in the centre of Newton Abbot are causing businesses to struggle, while pedestrians have tripped and injured themselves.

But councillors have been urged to get behind the project for the good of the town.

There were protests when work began in Queen Street in May, and the government-funded revamp has attracted strong opposition.

Supporters say widening pavements and changing traffic flows will be a boon when the work finishes in November. Opponents say it will kill businesses by discouraging passing ‘stop and shop’ customers who will no longer be able to park.

The new Liberal Democrat MP for Newton Abbot – Martin Wrigley – is the leader of Teignbridge Council and an outspoken advocate of the scheme which, he claims, is the only way to save the town centre.

At a meeting of the council’s executive committee, deputy leader Richard Keeling (Lib Dem, Chudleigh) congratulated Mr Wrigley and said his election was a ‘clear vindication’ of the administration.

“The people of Newton Abbot have spoken,” he said.

But Cllr Andrew MacGregor (South Devon Alliance, Bishopsteignton) said the roadworks had caused a number of injuries to pedestrians who had tripped and fallen, and some businesses had already failed.

He asked what support there was for the struggling businesses.

Cllr David Palethorpe (Lib Dem, Ipplepen) replied: “Clearly wherever there is work, there are trip hazards, but we take very seriously anything that is going to cause injury to the public, which is why there are big signs warning people. Any reports will be addressed.”

He said businesses would have been able to access £25,000 to support their efforts, but the South Devon Alliance-led Newton Abbot Town Council had not engaged with the government’s cash offer.

He went on: “There are boots on the ground, there’s high-vis, there’s machinery – it’s going ahead.

“We need everybody to accept where we are now, and make the very best of this situation.”

And Cllr Jackie Hook (Lib Dem, Bushell) added: “It’s really important that we all get behind our town. This scheme is happening now. Let’s make the most of it.

“This will increase the economic prosperity of our town centre. Let’s get behind it and make it work.”

Cllr MacGregor also asked what had happened to Queen Street’s much-prized nineteenth century granite kerbstones, which had been removed for the project.

He was told they were being kept safely and would be put back.

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