Highways England defend decision to close A14 to Newmarket after Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre
Highways England has defended their decision to close the A14 after Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre on Saturday (November 23).
The agency has said they only heard of the potential for roadworks to impact on thousands of shoppers travelling out of town the day before.
Their response this morning (Monday, November 25) follows criticism from West Suffolk Council for closing the road from Bury St Edmunds central to Newmarket to replace road markings and studs.
The council tweeted: “This is without any consultation and they’re unable to delay until later despite our request.”
It followed the ‘busiest ever day’ for car parking at the fayre and led to a diversion for the park and ride bus used to ferry shoppers.
West Suffolk said the roadworks were planned for 8pm, although these were put back to 9.30pm to minimise disruption.
Highways England said West Suffolk Council knew before Saturday.
A statement read: “We agreed the closure and confirmed it with Suffolk County Council on Monday November 18, informing numerous stakeholders in the area, including West Suffolk Council.”
“On Friday evening we were made aware of a concern about the closure affecting the late night shopping, and this was the first time this concern had been raised with us.
“Reacting swiftly to this feedback, we decided not to put the closure on until 9.30pm, to minimise disruption for drivers.”
The statement added: “We programmed these so as not to clash with the closures taking place as part of the £1.5 billion Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade, to ensure we are not closing multiple stretches of the A14 simultaneously, and we thus aim to minimise disruption for drivers.”
A council spokesman added: "We and other agencies that we have checked with, were not aware of the road closure at Bury St Edmunds on Saturday evening until after the Christmas Fayre had begun.
"We are in discussions with Highways England to see how improvements can be made in communicating with us about road closures such as this."