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Gridlock leaves Tavistock shops ‘on their knees’

Tuesday, 16 January 2024 09:28

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

Gridlock in Tavistock (Image: Alison Stephenson)

Traffic chaos deterring shoppers

Shoppers are avoiding Tavistock as numerous temporary traffic lights cause gridlock getting in and out of the town and will do for the next three months, it has been claimed.

Businesses are seeing a drop in customers as they make a beeline for other towns where they don’t have to wait in queues.

Earlier this month Wales and West Utilities put in traffic lights along Plymouth Road, one of the main routes into the town, to allow a major upgrade of gas pipes. The work will be continue until the end of March.

To compound matters, additional traffic lights have been added within 300 yards for new development at Bishopsmead, causing congestion outside the three large supermarkets, and emergency gas pipe work is happening over the next few weeks.

More temporary lights at Greenhill, Down Road and Mount Tavy Road which serves Princetown mean motorists are getting stuck from all angles.

Tavistock Business Improvement District manager Janna Sanders said: “These are essential works and we understand that these have to be carried out, but no thought whatsoever has gone into the gridlock this has caused on the main artery of the town centre. People are steering clear of town, businesses are reporting a massive reduction in their footfall.

“I have asked Devon County Council to implement a traffic management scheme so diverting the traffic elsewhere, I have had no responses.. but something needs to be done.”

Local resident Alison Stoneham: “The shops in Tavistock are on their knees, I’ve been told this week that there are four shops in town closing over the next few months and one has to wonder if its because of traffic issues such as this.

“We were told this would cause disruption till the end of March but one-one told us that the developers would be starting work at the same time so we have two sets of traffics lights with 300 yards, it’s crazy.”

Her husband Phil said: “It does feel like the town is under siege and someone is trying to seal us off just for the fun of it.

“The county council said some time ago that the roads were crowded and almost not fit for purpose. You can’t really get in or out now without packing a lunch and taking a flask, because you could be there for days!”

Trader Dotty King said: “I know roadworks have to happen, but could there not be a better way of managing it. It’s a really difficult time for the traders, both in the shops and in the farmers’ market especially during January so we need all the help we can get.”

Wales and West Utilities said: “We know that working in areas like this is not ideal, but it really is essential to make sure we keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area, and to make sure the gas network is fit for the future to transport hydrogen and biomethane, so we can play our part in a green future. We’ll have a team of gas engineers on site throughout the project to make sure our work is completed as safely and as quickly as possible while keeping disruption to a minimum.”

Devon county councillor for Tavistock Debo Sellis said she shared everyone’s frustration but it was not an easy thing to get right

Whilst planned works were co-ordinated by Devon County Council unplanned emergency works were not so some of the utility works could be done without authority from the council.

“We have ancients road, bridges and an increasing population. This is a busy crossroads and a bit of a beggar to get right when we have a crumbling infrastructure.”

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