Bury St Edmunds businesses speak of impact flood-hit A143 Compiegne Way is having on them
Businesses in Bury St Edmunds have spoken of the impact the closure of a flood-hit road has had on them.
The A143 Compiegne Way has been closed for nearly three weeks with no reopening date in sight as Suffolk Highways say there is still a lot of work to do to clear the water and fix the issues.
However, it said that the flooded A134 is its top priority.
British Sugar is among the businesses affected by the closure and a spokesperson said the firm wanted to support Highways where it could in solving the issue as it did impact vehicles entering the Hollow Road site.
It said: “We are extremely keen to see a longer term solution to help address this ongoing issue, and to see Bury town moving freely again.”
Meanwhile, Camp Tails, a dog day care in Eastern Way, has seen customers cancelling appointments.
Owner Jon Kay said: “It’s having a big impact on the business, including staff getting in and on customers who need to divert.
“We definitely have had a handful of people saying they won’t come in today because of the road closure. They say it’s not worth the detour because it adds too much time to their travel.
“January tends to be a quieter time for trade, so I can’t fully blame the road, but it is adding another compound to a difficult month in the year.
“But there has been a noticeable change in the number of people coming in with customers cancelling appointments.”
Jon said Highways needed to stop putting a sticking plaster on the issue and find a better long-term solution as it crippled the town.
“The most frustrating thing is that this is not a new problem,” added Jon.
“The road has been closed several times last year, and the fact that it hasn’t been opened this year at all, is a little bit of a joke.
“It’s clearly not an emergency. It’s an ongoing problem.
“Other neighbouring businesses have lorries coming in, so I imagine that’s a nightmare because how do they get lorries in here without pulling the lorries through town or via a diversion.
“They must be pulling their hair out.”
Other neighbouring businesses including 1 Stop Blinds, also in Eastern Way, and Direct Furniture, in Hollow Road, said the closure is impacting their delivery time.
They are calling for a better long-term solution particularly as there might be more flooding in the future due to climate change.
Louise Bragg, Direct Furniture manager, said: “We need a quicker action. It happens year after year so I don’t understand why they haven’t sorted it.
“It has disrupted our delivers as well as time getting to work.
“Our deliver guys are stuck in traffic so it’s harder to get to customers. It’s also not good for the environment.”
However, Suffolk county councillor Peter Thompson, who represents the Eastgate and Moreton Hall division, said there seemed to be scant regard over the impact of repeated Compiegne Way closures on the town's economy and residents’ wellbeing.
"Someone should be held accountable for this," he said.
Cllr Thompson said the road bed needed raising, with some sort of physical run-off created, and there should have been proper investment to fix the issue a long time ago.
"It's a civil engineering problem - a building problem, not a pumps and pipes problem," he said.
"It needs to have a proper solution with proper spending because we're spending good money after bad (on it).”
John Clements, Suffolk assistant director of highways services, said discussions would be had over any long-term plans for the flood-hit road.
“If we want to make it that Compiegne Way never floods again then that is substantial investment,” said Mr Clements.
“In simple terms, raising the road would achieve that but that’s not going to get rid of the water. The road wouldn’t be getting flooded but the water would be going elsewhere. And it is not a quick fix – it is not a solution that can be put in within six months.
“Or, long-term, do we recognise Compiegne Way is prone to flooding and enhance alternative routes to make them suitable for the traffic?”
Mr Clements was unable to put a figure on the cost of the short-term measures under way to get Compiegne Way open again, but admitted the tankers were costing money on ‘a daily basis’, along with the staff time spent visiting the site to assess the challenges.
“It all comes at a cost, but resources do need to be expended,” he said.