Was nightmare on West Street really that bad?

The lower end of West Street. Picture taken on Wednesday by content editor John Fieldhouse. EMN-180509-114040001
The lower end of West Street. Picture taken on Wednesday by content editor John Fieldhouse. EMN-180509-114040001

One of the biggest road improvement programmes in Horncastle’s history was always going to spark a host of views.

One of the biggest road improvement programmes in Horncastle’s history was always going to spark a host of views.

Sure enough, while the newly laid tarmac was still steaming on West Street, those views were coming in.

They ranged from - ‘It’s been chaos’ to ‘What was all the fuss about?’

To be fair, weeks of warnings about the closure of West Street appeared to have paid off.

Still, there were problems at the very start as Prospect Street was also dug up...along with West Street.

“We always intended re-surfacing Prospect Street,” said the very nice man from the County Council. “It was on those maps we showed you at the town council meeting.”

I could be wrong but I’m sure those maps showed the dug-up section of road ended outside the ‘Fighting Cocks’ ...a few yards BEFORE the junction with West Street.

Despite the warnings, the cones and the signs, there were still vehicle owners intent on driving into West Street.

One tractor driver was so determined police had to be called.

There were longer than usual delays on North Street and the Bull Ring.

The town centre was definitely quieter than usual on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Many business owners reported trade was down.

Phil Cantweel, who owns a restaurant in West Street said: “Everyone has been going on Facebook etc saying how it’s so disruptive,

“I had major concerns but to be honest highways and the contractors have been brilliant.

“Yes, it’s not perfect but the work so needs doing.

“They have been very helpful and informative.

“It’s a shame that it is always negative information given out and not positive.”

A few yards away coffee shop owner Graham Midgley was pretty much of the same view.

Business was slower, consultation could have been better but the work needed doing.

As Mr Midgley quickly pointed out, the people complaining about access and other issues were also the ones who were first in line to complain about the general condition of West Street - potholes and all.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, it was difficult to find a local business onwer who said the roadworks hadn’t had a negative impact.

Slowly but surely, though, the message did get out that Horncastle was still open for business.

Some businesses in West Street and Prospect Street said access for staff and deliveries was an issue.

However, most complaints seemed to be about arrangements for bus services - and exactly where buses would stop.

Stagecoach - who operate the service from Lincoln to Skegness - had declared they would be using temporary stops on Jubilee Way.

Cue raised eyebrows as Jubilee Way is one of the busiest roads in the area.

However, on Monday and Tuesday, there were no temporary signs.

Passengers were left to guess where the stops should be - Jubilee Way, North Street or the Market Place. Cue even more raised eyebrows.

The signs did appear on Wednesday - apparently after one of the contractors made a four hour round trip to Doncaster to fetch them.

The nice man from the county council said sorry.

Still, the confusion over which bus was stopping where continued.

One elderly couple waited for an hour at the top of North Street for the Stagecoach service...unaware it was actually stopping on Jubilee Way.

Other people complained they were waiting for services in the Market Place only to find they should have been in North Street.

There was one small map outlining the changes at the Market Place bus shelter but it was all too easy to miss.

Amid it all, contractors got on with the actual job of resurfacing the road...historic cobbles and all.

The cobbles were briefly exposed to daylight for the first time in more than 150 years.

Perhaps it was hardly a surprise when within minutes of contractors finishing work on Friday tea-time, vehicle owners were removing cones, ignoring signs and driving onto the still wet tarmac.

“Sorry,” said one woman driver attempting to access Prospect Street. “ I didn’t realise the road was closed.” Really?

So, the first section of West Street has been completed.

It is on to the next phase of West Street - tied in nicely with the return of QEGS - then the junction with the A158 and finally Langton Hill.

It could be December before everything is finished.

Potholes? Not in West Street. How long will it be before different contractors arrive to dig it up again? Answers on a postcard to the nice man from the County Council.