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Roadworks row rumbles on

THE row over roadworks in Aldershot town centre deepened when Rushmoor Council admitted it was responsible for a blunder.

On September 30 work in Victoria Road stopped after the council said it did not consult residents about plans for two pedestrian crossings and a bus stop.

Retailers and business people have been invited for talks on October 7, when they will have a chance to air their grievances over the disruption.

Jeweller Lee Graham, of B M Graham Ltd, said: "This is an outrageous abuse of local power.

"Everyone on the Traffic Focus Group, where it was supposedly approved, told me they didn't know about it."

He denied the council's claims the original focus group meeting was a public meeting, as it was invitation only. He said those affected in Victoria Road did not know about it.

Representatives of the Town Centre Management Group, Retail Action Group and other business groups attended.

Mr Graham has "grave reservations" about the project but is pleased the council has stopped work for discussions.

Many retailers feel shoppers leaving the Wellington Centre will not walk to the proposed crossings at the junctions with Heathland Street and Wellington Street.

Mr Graham said: "I am particularly concerned about the safety implications. I think somebody's going to get killed because the new bus stop will be the worst blackspot in the borough."

Businesses in Victoria Road also believe the bus stop, to be built out into the road, will bring traffic to a standstill.

Ward councillor Eddie Poole, who said he was at the Traffic Focus Group meeting last November, said: "I'm horrified at what they're doing. Every time a bus comes through cars are not going to be able to get through.

"I remember them talking about raising the kerb but not moving the bus stop into the road. It's taking up all the road."

Aldershot town centre manager Jenny Rawlings was also at the meeting. She said the broad issues were discussed and agreed but not the details of the roadworks.

"We agreed in principle that it was a good idea but we expected them to follow through with the consultation process. We would have hoped that this would have involved the retailers and businesses in Victoria Road."

Jim Petitt, Rushmoor's head of highways and transport, said the aim was to make the road pedestrian friendly and improve bus facilities.

He said the project could not proceed without consulting the public.

"If there are concerns then we've got to get the message across as to what's happening and try to get a compromise so we can move forward. We're keen to get them completed before the Christmas period."

He said the scheme would slow but not halt traffic. He said a crossing could not go up outside the entrance to the Wellington Centre because drivers' visibility would be restricted by the bus stop.


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
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