July 29, 2022 6.00 pm

Overkill A607 diversion signs putting customers off, businesses say

Council criticised for too many red signs, not enough publicity

Businesses in two Lincolnshire villages say they are open as usual as works take place to repair a local bridge.

Lincolnshire County Council is carrying out works on the A607 Fulbeck Bridge as part of a bid to resurface, waterproof and replace joints along it.

However, business owners in Leadenham and Fulbeck say that the council isn’t doing enough to promote that they are still open.

They are keen for people to know what is still available in the area.

The businesses understood the need for the works, but said signs went up two days earlier than they thought, that there are too many red “Road Closed Ahead” signs and not enough yellow “Businesses Open as Usual” signs.

The diversion route starts at the A15 in Bracebridge Heath and goes out to Holdingham Roundabout to the A153 Grantham Road and back to the A607, though cars can still follow the A607 right up to Fulbeck Bridge.

Local Democracy Reporters travelling to Leadenham on Friday counted at least 28 Road Closed Ahead signs in the 20 minute journey from Bracebridge, with at least five business open as usual signs starting just before Wellingore – around half way. One sign just before Leadenham village itself said the road was closed at Fulbeck Bridge.

Lynsey Hampshire, who runs the Country Store in Leadenham, posted a video earlier this week showing the number of red signs – she told reporters the businesses open signage had been added since then.

Lynsey Hampshire, of The Country Store in Leadenham. | Image: Daniel Jaines

She said the amount of red signage along the road was “overkill”, adding that Leadenham had become a “ghost town” almost immediately due to the lack of passing traffic.

“Because people think the whole road is closed they’re avoiding it,” she said.

“It’s not specific enough about the closure.

“The A15 is chocabloc with traffic because of the diversion going there.”

She added that although business did drop during the last Summer holidays, this went even further.

Another nearby business in the village also noted the lack of traffic, particularly pointing to the petrol station. They said it was usually heaving with vehicles.

Nicola Durrant, of Deliciously Grace Chocolatier, said: “The traffic is just not flowing through.

“That’s the trouble, they do close these things and it has such an impact.”

Suzanna Moth, an employee at the Home Farm Shop said: “It’s ridiculous, I just phoned a lady in Navenby about a product. She thought she couldn’t get to us.

“We’re well supported by all the cliff villages. But it has affected us all.”

Postmistress Karen Smith feared customers would go elsewhere. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Postmistress Karen Swift said a lot of customers from Fulbeck Way faced being put off by the long diversion to her business.

“They’ve said they’ll come but with petrol prices going up… [there’s no guarantee].

“Once customers do go somewhere else they might not come back.

“It is a bit worrying and having an impact.

“It’s going to be hard, very hard. I try to keep the Post Office as busy as can be for a rural area, but if business dropped that’s my livelihood.”

She added that if other roadworks taking place nearby had been completed quicker, there might not have been as much disruption.

Diversions start (and end) in Bracebridge Heath. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Two local residents who visited the Post Office while reporters were there, said they had been forced to take a long diversion to the doctors by going virtually to RAF Cranwell and back.

They said they had also been confused as there are currently two sets of diversions – one marked by a circle and the other by a diamond.

The markings are in line with highways rules, but residents said it wasn’t necessarily clear to someone not in the know.

To get to Fulbeck, there is a road out of Leadenham which is not marked by the county council’s diversion.

Those “in the know” can use Sleaford Road and/or Pottergate Road to get to the A17, then cross to Pottergate Road (cont) to get to South Heath Lane and come back in to Fulbeck that way.

The road is a key route between Leadenham and Fulbeck which is used by passing trade including cyclists, hikers and dog walkers. | Image: Daniel Jaines

There, the village’s recently-refurbished Craft Centre – including stalls held by local artists, potters, jewellers, the Tack Room tea rooms and the new Old Coachhouse Store are also worried about the impact.

Business owners reported that signage going towards Grantham was in a similar position to that going from Leadenham, and that drivers were being forced to take “huge diversions”.

Despite pre-booked group visits, they said the centre was “quieter”.

Christina at Fulbeck Craft Centre’s The Old Coachhouse Store which has recently started stocking everyday items including bread, fresh produce and stamps. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Craft Centre owner Alix Fane, said: “The Craft Centre is trying to get back on our feet since COVID.

“We’re small businesses and nobody’s written to us. The management’s been appalling and trees have been damaged by the lorries.

“Villagers are now putting up signage themselves and this work is affecting out peak season trade.”

She said the issues had coincided with positive news around the opening of a the Old Coachhouse village shop, but that the business would now be selling stamps to help visitors who could not get to the Post Office.

Traders in the Craft Centre have joined other businesses in wanting people to know they are still open and have a lot to offer. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Businesses on both sides also noted that cyclists, hikers and dog walkers were unable to get across the bridge.

Zena Dewbrey at the Hare and Hound said “We are family orientated, lots of children are on holiday, families stop off on the way through usually.”

However, she said this was not happening now due to the lack of passing trade.

“We are going to lose out,” she said, adding that buses had also stopped coming, though a taxi service was working to get people into the village from the nearest working stop.

“We should have had more communiciations, people didn’t know there were roadworks going on.”

Lincolnshire County Council has been asked for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.