Wealden villagers face roadworks hell

Andy and Linda Brooks outside the Laughing Fish
Andy and Linda Brooks outside the Laughing Fish

Summer road resurfacing has brought chaos to towns and villages in Wealden.

Owners of small businesses say they have been particularly badly affected by misleading signs which lead people to believe their shops and pubs are inaccessible.

Badly affected was the Laughing Fish in Isfield where two roads - one from the north and one from the south - converge on the village from the A26.

Landlord Andy Brooks said: “County council road contractors closed one road for the first week and traffic was diverted to come in from the Lewes end. At the end of the week the diversion was reversed - Lewes Road was closed and all traffic came from the Uckfield direction.

“However the resurfacing on the Lewes Road stretch was not finished – the old surface had, apparently, been ‘scraped off’ and recycled to form the base for a final Tarmac layer – but this was not yet in place. For the whole of the second week, therefore, traffic including buses was negotiating a very rough unfinished surface with lots of loose debris.”

But Andy’s main problem is that while roads appeared to be finished, contractors had to wait for the final Tarmac layer meaning access was closed for longer than necessary. He also pointed out that while signs on the closed section clearly stated ‘road closed,’ signs on the open section said: ‘road ahead closed’. Would-be visitors understood this to mean there was no access so decided not to visit the pub. Andy went on: “If you can’t get here via the A26, you have an awfully long and roundabout drive.”

Another family firm to be affected was Holly Gap Farm, also in Isfield.

Lynn Brown said: “We lost an awful lot of business over those two weeks. People just couldn’t work out how to get to us.”

Roger Williams, head of highways at East Sussex County Council, said: “Whenever we carry out roadworks, disruption is inevitable. It is important to us people can still access their homes and businesses while we carry out necessary repairs, and in this case people could continually access the village. The road was re-opened once work was finished and when it was safe to do so.”

In Heathfield, Andrew Comben emailed the Sussex Express to explain problems he experienced during the resurfacing of the A267 from Heathfield to Horam. “Resurfacing chaos on A267 - a sick man, (65) was refused access by car to doctor’s surgery.”

The Firs Surgery is on the A267, a few yards from the A265 junction. And the boss of Horam Service Station said: “We’re down about 95 per cent. It’s terrible.”