SOUTHERN Water have been praised for carrying out disruptive roadworks in Petworth ahead of schedule so business could return to normal – but town councillors say lessons should be learned.
West Sussex county councillor Chris Duncton told town councillors complaints about disruption and misleading signage had caused him ‘the most unpleasant time I have had since I became a county councillor’.
“I think it is essential in the future if any more roadworks are planned for the town to get the Petworth Business Association to meet with the street works officers at the county council to get the signs that they want.”
Furious traders hit out after what they said were ‘misleading’ signs gave the impression that Petworth was closed for business.
The signs were put up at the start of the recent emergency sewer repair work to replace a length of damaged pipe which meant the closure of Pound Street.
The work took some two weeks and traders claimed it turned Petworth into a ‘ghost town’ because the warning signs appeared to indicate the town was closed for business.
They also caused confusion for lorry drivers who clogged up traffic when they had to reverse along the narrow streets.
Cllr Duncton said: “The county council’s call centre was swamped with calls from Petworth, and everyone seemed to have different ideas about what was the best solution.
“In the future it’s essential traders talk to the county council so the onus is on them.”
Chris Kemp told the meeting: “It was a learning experience and a bit of a mess. We knew as a town council about the road closure, but the business association said they did not know. It would have helped if they had had prior warning.”