“It divides the village” Disruption in a small town after the partial closure of a major transit road


Residents and traders in one Welsh town have said the decision to partially close one of its main roads to traffic “divides the village”.

Newport Road, the main thoroughfare through Caldicot between the city center and the B4245, is currently closed to through traffic for a three-week trial period which began on Monday, October 11.

Monmouthshire County Council is considering whether the best way to improve this area of ​​Newport Road would be to close it to through traffic, and said the trial period was to “understand the impact of such closure on Newport Road itself as well as the surrounding streets and nearby shops “.

Besides closing it off to cars, other options for improving the road are to widen the pedestrian lane on both sides and make it a greener environment. No final decision on the long-term plan for the road has been made and residents and businesses still have access to the road from the B4245.

Read more: Main road through Welsh town closed to cars as council considers permanent closure

But a week and a half after the start of the trial period, the shutdown has divided residents and traders in the city, with some saying it has led to a drop in footfall while others say it has made the road safer.

Jo Colla has been running the Ladybird Craft Center on Newport Road for two years. The cafe is located right on the stretch of road where the closing posts are and said she “hadn’t met anyone who was supportive of it.”

“All of our clients are quite annoyed about this. It’s very difficult to move around the village now,” she said.

“We can’t have outside deliveries. There is no through traffic, which means we don’t have the footfall that we were getting.

“Because nobody knows exactly where the blockage is on the road, the delivery vans get off and have to start again, and obviously there is no turning space for them. So we saw a lot of dangerous maneuvering from trucks and vans. “

Jo said the company would normally get good trade because it has its own parking lot, but that has been declining since last week.

“We’re so quiet. There are no customers because nobody can come here. People don’t realize they have to come from the Newport Road side, not the Sandy Lane side.

“We just heard from a customer yesterday that Google says you can’t access our parking lot at all, when you can. So it’s really frustrating.

“It’s just dividing up the village to be honest with you. You have the cheapest part. [on this side] and the more expensive half there. “

Jo Colla has been running the Ladybird Craft Center on Newport Road for two years

Jo, who told WalesOnline earlier this year that she was considering shutting down the business due to Covid restrictions, said the measure was yet another blow as she said trade had recently resumed after a period difficile during the pandemic.

“We deliberately chose here for the business because it was on a through road. We’re right off the main drag and felt it was a good connection.

“Unfortunately, people don’t want to walk. They want to get in their cars.

“I am sure that a final closure [of the road] would shut us down. We’ve been quieter since they tested it. We get a lot of our new customers from people walking past, and now we’re not getting that.

“It’s like another nail in the coffin. We have all these price increases with fuel right now, and now that on top of that,” she said, adding that she was worried people were starting to use its parking lot. and walk downtown if the road remained closed.

“It’s a busy road and we’re very supportive of speed bumps and calming traffic – but not closing the road.”

Emily Griffith and June Appleton, two employees of The Original Factory Shop near the start of the road closure, said they have received numerous customer complaints since last week.

“I was walking down the road to come to work, saw him and had to turn around. I didn’t know,” said Emily, a supervisor, adding that although some businesses and local residents had been informed of the plans in advance, the message did not reach everyone.

“I know I have had a lot of customers who are not happy with it.”

June said: “Even those who walk say it’s chaos and they don’t like the plan. I have had two people who love her who live nearby, one saying her child is three years will be able to play there without having to worry about cars.

“But even told him he didn’t know.

“Complaints from people with families say it puts more congestion on other roads with schools. Sandy Lane, Green Lane.”

The Original Factory Shop, near the crossroads where the road closure begins

Another worker who did not want to be named said the closure was causing problems for trucks trying to make deliveries in the city center.

“The cars are swinging in the garage to turn around, but obviously the trucks can’t do that, so they have to back up up there.”

June said there would be even more problems if the closure became permanent.

“More people would be aware that you can park at the playgrounds, which in itself is going to cause another problem as people will be parking there all day and others will not be able to find a space.”

However, not all traders are against the measures. Sarah Spencer of Serenity Barber Shop on Newport Road admitted there had been some benefits since the start of the trial period.

“It’s been calmer, there have been a lot more people walking in the last few weeks. Normally you have people running down the road thinking they’re Lewis Hamilton.

“I understand why they’re doing it – the carbon footprint and all that – but I think a road closure is a bit extreme.

“There are two pretty sharp turns that you have to go through to cross the road. I think they could put speed bumps and a level crossing, they have to make it a lot safer. It would be so much more beneficial. [The closure] didn’t stop people – saw cyclists go by, people open doors and cross.

“We found out a month in advance and posted a post to let people know. If you have booked to get your hair done, you will come. It’s different if you are a cafe. We have more structure. to our reservations.

“I think once people get used to it it will work, but a lot of people are not happy.

“I’m not strongly for or against it, but I think they could have done it in a better way.”

Serenity Hair

Residents and shoppers in the city are also divided over the closure.

George Reed, 90, said the past week has been much more enjoyable for those attempting to cross a normally-traveled road.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “Around the corner, where the bend is, there should have been a pelican crossing for people like me going up a bit. But instead there was nothing but the sidewalk. fell, so you had to take a chance. There was no speed limit or something, so you would have cars that would tear apart.

“It’s much calmer now. I can’t imagine [it will impact businesses]. They have parking lots, Aldi and Asda have them there. “

But Michael O’Dwyer, 75, said he “doesn’t see the benefits for the city” and that could affect attendance as much of its population is older and can’t walk that far.

“It won’t affect us because we’re coming from the other side, but I know a lot of people take this road,” he said. “In my opinion, that will kill the city center. We don’t know what the long term routes will be and how that will affect things. Will the market traders still be able to come? You have speedsters walking up and down the road. , but I’m not sure if I close it. “

Caldicot Town Center

On Sandy Lane, one of the main alternative routes for cars passing through Caldicot, locals noticed a difference.

Dennis Shepherd, who lives on the road, said the closure of Newport Road was “absolute nonsense”.

“If you look at Church Road, they’ve narrowed it in places, put a horrible narrowing in the turn, took out some planters, which is great, but if nobody takes care of them afterwards, that’s a mess.

“If they want to do the same in Newport Road, just forget about it and go.

“The extra traffic here… you have schools here and on Woodstock Way. It was bad enough before they closed the roads with people picking up and dropping off etc. It’s definitely busier.

“Frankly, I don’t see any benefit. It won’t help anyone.”

Sandy Lane has become the main alternative route for city traffic

He said the measure would “kill” the city center and people “wouldn’t bother” to come if it became too difficult.

“If you make it harder for people to drive, they’ll go to Chepstow or Newport. People want comfort. I have no problem trying to get people out of their cars. Public transport in Europe, in cars. places like Austria and Italy, is cheap and efficient.

“Public transportation has to be there before you start trying to make changes to get people out of their cars. If you make it useful, people will. ordinary.

“It costs around £ 8 to go to Newport by train, I think.”

Another resident of the road, who did not wish to be named, said he also saw an increase in traffic.

“It’s crazy, absolutely crazy. I leave for work at 4:25 am and get picked up, and normally I look up and down a deserted road but now I see three or four cars, even at that time.

“It’s definitely busier here now. You also have the school up the road, so it’s busy from there, but it just brought more traffic.

“In fact, I just asked the city council to have a reader installed, because my son parks his car on the road outside and there are now so many people that he is afraid his car will be damaged.”

Monmouthshire County Council has invited residents and businesses to give their views on improvements to the road. She will make her ideas available on her website and organize a public exhibition in downtown Caldicot in addition to a community session from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 22 and 23. [email protected]

Councilor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire Regeneration Cabinet Member, said: ‘We are exploring ways to improve Newport Road to create a more pleasant environment and I urge all residents, visitors to Caldicot, businesses in the city and other organizations to participate in the discussions. on the future of the region. “

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