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GRIDLOCKED; Sewer replacement work causes chaos for drivers.


STREETS around Leamington's Old Town were gridlocked yesterday as extra roadworks choked the town centre.

Bus companies were forced to change routes and frustrated drivers were backed up for more than half a mile in both directions.

Severn Trent and Warwickshire County Council officials had warned that sewer replacement work in High Street, which began this week, would cause problems for motorists.

The congestion was expected to be confined to High Street and Spencer Street by a one-way closure.

But chaos reigned yesterday when one lane of Bath Street was also closed, blocking vehicles all around the site of the roadworks.

Bosses at Stagecoach Midland Red called an emergency meeting to arrange route diversions.

As a result, some services will not be calling at the busy parish church stop, in Priory Terrace, for the next three weeks.

Leamington manager Mick Rossiter said: "It has been an absolute nightmare.

"There has been a knock-on affect with buses travelling to Stratford and beyond, and we have had many phone calls from customers wanting to know where their buses are. We were not told that Bath Street would be affected and we have complained to the council."

Stagecoach staff will be posted in the Parade today to advise passengers of the alterations.

Paul Yardley, owner of Headmasters Hairdressers, in Clemens Street, off High Street, and chairman of the Old Town Business Association, said it took him about 30 minutes to get from the top of the Parade to his shop.

He said: "The traffic was crawling all the way, and there were cars backed up at each junction.

"I think the last time there was work on the sewers in that road was about 15 years ago, and the traffic management was appalling then does not seem to have got any better. It is a very bad thing for Old Town.

"Businesses in the area are not happy. I don't think it is a co-incidence that the shop has been quiet this week, and most of the other traders have been as well."

The essential sewer work is scheduled to last for another five weeks.

A county council spokesman said efforts would be made to keep disruption to a minimum.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Mar 7, 2002
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