Anger over gas works plan for resurfaced road in Rothbury

Anger has been voiced after it emerged gas works are to take place in Rothbury on a newly resurfaced road at the height of summer

Rothbury Cllr Steven Bridgett in the town
Rothbury Cllr Steven Bridgett in the town

A road in the heart of a Northumberland village is to be dug up for gas works, less than two months after being resurfaced.

The road in the middle of Rothbury is to be lifted by Northern Gas Networks (NGN) to connect a customer.

News of the work comes less than two months after the road was resurfaced by Northumberland County Council as part of a £250,000 programme in the village.

The work is set to result in a road closure in the centre of Rothbury at the height of summer.

A councillor in the village Rothbury last night voiced anger over the fact the road is to be dug up again so soon after being resurfaced at taxpayers’ expense. He also hit out over the planned road closure falling during the busiest months of the year for the village, posing disruption for motorists.

The county council said the work was unplanned, which was why it had not been timed to take place ahead of the resurfacing.

The work is to be carried out by NGN to connect a customer, at the person’s expense. It requires the digging up of a section of road beside the village’s Market Cross, in July.

The work comes on the back of the county council having resurfaced the road around the cross in April as part of an ongoing £250,000 programme at Rothbury.

County councillor for Rothbury Steven Bridgett last night claimed the authority had delayed its long awaited resurfacing for two years to ensure it was not carried out before new underground cables were laid in the village to give residents superfast broadband, or any planned works from Northumbrian Water.

He voiced anger that the gas works could not have taken place before the taxpayer funded resurfacing.

Coun Bridgett said: “I think everyone in Rothbury has been well aware that there is planned resurfacing works for Rothbury and it has been well publicised when they were planned to take place.

“It is just a shame the customer did not take advantage of that before the road was resurfaced.”

The work will require closure of a section of road beside the Market Cross for two days, July 7 and 8. The village’s music festival takes place from July 18 to 20.

Coun Bridgett added: “The works will actually result in a road closure as well during one of the busiest times of the year.”

The councillor also claimed the digging up of the road will reduce the quality of the newly resurfaced route.

“Although I am sure they will fill it and patch it up, it still undermines the strength of the road.”

A county council spokeswoman said: “This particular work is a customer connection and a section 58 notice only allows us to defer that type of work by 20 days.

“The utility company asked to do the work and we have managed to defer them for the 20 days maximum allowed.

“We have planned the works so that we get the best solution and we have insisted on the reinstatement being at least 2.5m either side of the trench, and this is why we require a temporary closure.

“Because this is not part of their planned programme of works we are unable to plan this in advance.

“We can direct utility companies to some extent – in relation to timing of works, and also in relation to positioning of equipment, but we can’t stop them from doing work.”

Northern Gas Networks Project Manager Norman de Bruin said: “We can confirm that we have received a request to connect a property in Rothbury to the gas supply. Although we cannot control when a customer requests a connection, they do have a legal right to be connected to the gas. In this instance it is unfortunate that this work was requested shortly after the road was resurfaced.

 “We have worked extensively with the Highways Authority to minimise disruption to the people of Rothbury. As part of our work we will be employing methods to reduce the amount of digging that we need to do on the recently resurfaced road by planning carefully the route that the new pipework will take. We will also be reinstating the road and pathways on the same day that we excavate which will considerably reduce the time that we are on site.”

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