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MP Gordon Henderson slams Southern Water roadworks on Sheppey's Lower Road


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An MP has criticised a water company for prolonging roadworks that have caused traffic chaos – and they are not over yet.

Gordon Henderson, who represents Sittingbourne and Sheppey, says he is "appalled" Southern Water contractors have not been working through the night to make sure the work on the Lower Road at Minster, on Sheppey, is completed as quickly as possible.

Southern Water's temporary traffic lights have caused hold-ups along the Lower Road on Sheppey
Southern Water's temporary traffic lights have caused hold-ups along the Lower Road on Sheppey

The works, which started last Wednesday, were supposed to finish at midnight last night (Tuesday).

But, yesterday, Mr Henderson said Southern Water had applied to Kent County Council (KCC) for a one-week extension to finish the job.

It now means the permit for the works has been extended to Wednesday, November 17.

In an update to local councillors Elliott Jayes and Cameron Beart, KCC this morning said the leak was fixed last night and that today workers had started reinstating the road.

Cllr Beart, who represents Sheppey on KCC, said: "The latest update is that the leak is repaired and that contractors have shored up the roadside.

Cllr Cameron Beart
Cllr Cameron Beart

"They will pour concrete and then it will have to be left to cure for two to three days before they can lay tarmac."

He added: "The permit expired at midnight yesterday but was extended to the 17th.

"KCC, Southern Water and Clancy Docwra all say they hope it will be finished before then".

Mr Henderson said the traffic lights used to facilitate the works had caused "considerable disruption" to the road network on the Island which, at peak times, had been almost gridlocked.

"This is causing unacceptable disruption to the journeys of many local residents," he said.

Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson
Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson

He added: "I am frankly appalled that the Southern Water contractors have been only working from 9am until 3pm. I believe they should have been working throughout the night to ensure the work is completed as quickly as possible.

"I am unhappy also that they have not put in place a traffic management system that ensures a better flow of traffic at peak times, for instance, opening up and using space taken up by the cycle path."

Mr Henderson said he had contacted KCC and asked that before granting an extension of the time allowed to complete the work, it was to insist on longer working hours and a better traffic management plan. He also contacted the chairman and chief executive officer of Southern Water to make that same point.

John Twisleton, of Minster, said it took him 35 minutes to get from The Harps Inn to Cowstead Corner at 8am today.

"It was all caused by the Lower Road temporary traffic lights," he said. "The road going from the Barton Hill Drive/Minster Road mini roundabout was also blocked with traffic going towards Halfway.

"I am unhappy also that they have not put in place a traffic management system that ensures a better flow of traffic at peak times."

"On my return, at 9.15am, I went through the traffic lights with no queue. But the other side was queuing back up Barton Hill Drive and back passed the rugby club.

"They are only using simple traffic signs that are not allowing for the different densities of traffic dependent on the time of day."

A KCC spokesman said: “The works on the Lower Road are to enable Southern Water to carry out repairs. The works started on November 3 and were due to be completed on November 9.

“Due to difficulties on site, the firm have asked for an extension until November 17.”

Southern Water has been contacted for comment.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheppey

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