Landslide Rothbury road is to stay closed until next year

Frustration has been voiced after it was confirmed a road into Rothbury will remain closed until August 2015

Rothbury councillor Steven Bridgett at the landslip
Rothbury councillor Steven Bridgett at the landslip

Frustration has been voiced after council bosses revealed one of the main access roads into a Northumberland village will not reopen until next summer.

The B3644 into Rothbury was closed at Christmas 2012 following a massive landslip.

Northumberland County Council has now confirmed repair work is finally to start next month and that it will be August 2015 before the road will reopen.

And last night, Ian Mills, owner of a bed and breakfast in the village, said: “They seem to be determined to spin this out as long as possible.

“I do understand it is a problem, you just get the feeling somewhere in the back of your mind that if it was the main road to Alnwick, Berwick or Hexham, it would have been done quicker.”

Mr Mills, a former parish councillor, highlighted the speed with which work has already been carried out following storm damage to a railway line at Dawlish in Devon in February.

“Frankly no matter how difficult something is, where there is a will there is a way.”

He said the lack of public outcry following the council’s previous statements on how long the road would be closed for had given it an excuse to take its time.

“If there had been a bit more controversy, if we all jumped up and down and said this road is vital to the village, can we get it open?

“Somehow because we somehow accepted in a typical British fashion it gave the local authority a reason to prevaricate.

“You do not give local authorities excuses for prevarication.

“I just think from Christmas 2012 to August 2015 is a bit of a joke. It does not take nearly three years.

“I do think they are spinning it out.”

The landslip on the main road into Rothbury
The landslip on the main road into Rothbury
 

Last night, the authority was defended by its member for Rothbury, Steven Bridgett.

He said: “Obviously people have got a concern but the council’s number one priority is reopening the road and making sure it is a permanent lasting solution and one that we do not have to revisit in ten years’ time.

“I really do think they are doing everything as fast as they can.”

The surface of the road at Crag End began to move on Boxing Day 2012, before a section of the carriageway collapsed, forcing county council officials to close it.

Since the closure, businesses have voiced fears their trade would suffer as people might be reluctant to make repeat visits to the village, given the longer journeys some face as a result of the road closure.

In September, it emerged that the Valuation Office Agency had informed all businesses in Rothbury they were eligible for 10% rate relief.

A month later, the council said it would be “early 2015” before the road reopened.

And last night an authority spokeswoman confirmed the latest timetable: “The reconstruction scheme will be completed by August 2015. Works are expected to start later in May (2014).”

Mr Mills told how he has to make 12 miles of detours five times a week as he travels to Tyneside to visit his mother-in-law.

Yet he said business at the guesthouse had been largely unaffected as he believed the road closure only deters people considering daytrips.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer