County Council criticised over ineffective road signs

The sign in the Bull Ring which councillors and residents say indicated the town centre was effectively closed during the roadworks.
The sign in the Bull Ring which councillors and residents say indicated the town centre was effectively closed during the roadworks.

Lincolnshire County Council has been accused of not doing enough to ensure people know Horncastle is ‘open for business’ during a £7m road improvement programme.

Highways officials faced criticism from councillors and members of the public about ineffective signs during the works, which are due to be completed over the next few days.

The criticism came at the monthly meeting of Horncastle Town Council.

Coun Angela Birchall was one of several councillors to complain about a sign in the Bull Ring.

She told Highways officials, Steve Brooks and Matthew Fox, that the sign indicated the town’s High Street and Market Place were closed when in fact they were open.

Coun Birchall said as a result, many people stayed away from the town - hitting trade in the process.

The News has previously spoken to several business owners who reported a decline in sales. However, Mr Brooks and Mr Fox defended the signs and revealed the one in the Bull Ring had been removed.

Coun Birchall said: “The signage has been misleading. They indicate roads are closed when they have still been open. In fact, just part of the road is closed.

“There are a lot of people not coming to Horncastle.”

She said the sign in the Bull Ring was ‘just one example’.

Mr Fox and Mr Brooks stressed other signs at various locations in the roadworks showed the town was open for business.

He said signage was agreed with experts, and signs were specially designed.

He described the signs in Horncastle as ‘perfectly acceptable.’

However, Mr Fox was involved in a verbal spat with resident Richard Barker, a former town councillor.

Mr Barker said he was not aware of any signs indicating the town centre was open.

Mr Fox replied: “There are a number of signs saying clearly that businesses are open as usual.”

Mr Barker countered: “No, there are not.”

He acknowledged the sign in the Bull Ring had been removed, but said ‘the damage had already been done’.

Mr Fox asked Mr Barker what his ‘expertise’ was on road signs.

Mr Barker responded by asking Mr Fox to walk around the town with him to look at the signs, and also to talk to retailers about the damaging impact the roadworks have had.

Mr Fox said he ‘did not have time’ but stressed the county council had been in contact with businesses.

• Drivers have been ‘putting lives at risk’ by either ignoring or removing bollards and ‘road closed’ signs at the foot of Langton Hill to gain access to the A158 (Lincoln Road).

The busy junction has been closed for several weeks as part of the town’s road improvement programme.

However, resident Andrew Neal told this month’s town council meeting that as soon as contractors ‘clocked off’ for the day, motorists started driving onto Lincoln Road where temporary traffic lights are in operation.

Mr Neal told the meeting: “I live very close to that junction and I have seen four or five very near misses.

“What those drivers are doing is illegal, and dangerous.”

Highways officials said they would bring the matter to the attention of contractors.