‘Road closure could cost us a year’s salary’ - concern over planned roadworks

Birds Farm, Belchamp Walter, (road between Puttock End and Stettles Farm Road)
A road between Belchamp Walter and Belchamp Otten is being closed for repairs by Essex county council with just 4 days notice. The closure comes right in the middle of Birds Farm Trees two-week selling season meaning they could lose an entire years salary.
Peter Moore owner of the nursery.
Picture Mark Westley
Birds Farm, Belchamp Walter, (road between Puttock End and Stettles Farm Road) A road between Belchamp Walter and Belchamp Otten is being closed for repairs by Essex county council with just 4 days notice. The closure comes right in the middle of Birds Farm Trees two-week selling season meaning they could lose an entire years salary. Peter Moore owner of the nursery. Picture Mark Westley

The owners of a tree nursery in Belchamp Walter fear they could lose a year’s salary because of a road closure during their peak two-week selling season.

Birds Farm Trees sits along the road between Belchamp Walter and Belchamp Otten.

The road between Puttock End and Stettles Farm Road was closed on Tuesday for five-working days.

Peter and Trea Moore, both 67, understand the work is necessary, but say more warning and consultation with residents and business owners should have taken place so this costly clash could have been avoided.

They have also been critical of the council’s treatment towards them in dealing with their complaint.

“The whole season’s crop is being put in jeopardy,” said Mr Moore.

“We have two busy weeks a year, so timing is vital. We have wasted hundreds of pounds on advertising. Customers come from across the country to see us.”

“We have a two-week window to sell, or they all go on the bonfire. If they held back one month, it wouldn’t be a problem at all.”

Residents were only alerted to the closure on Saturday when posters were put up.

The county council has since apologised for this, but has refused to change the dates.

Mr Moore, who spent eight hours on the phone on Monday and Tuesday in an attempt to reach a resolution, was promised that advisory signs – alerting motorists to the fact that businesses were open as usual – would be placed at either end of the road, with staff on hand to allow vehicles through.

Mr Moore still fears that he could lose thousands of pounds in business if customers see the road closed signs and decide to turn back.

He was left frustrated by what he felt was obstructive treatment by the county council.

Having been told he could not speak to a manager or an engineer, he was passed through to various staff at the council’s call centre.

“It’s just disgraceful, they are behaving like demi-gods,” he said. “I’ve had to speak to seven people – it’s just walls of bureaucracy.

“It’s been a tremendous battle and we could have lost our whole crop.

“We would have had no-one attending if we hadn’t said anything.”

In response, a spokesman for Essex Highways said: “Our on-site crew will allow vehicle access along the road, including to the nursery, and the crew supervisor will meet managers at the nursery to explain that there may be short delays if we have to move equipment, but their trade will not be interrupted.

“Unfortunately, we cannot simply move the work to another week as, because of the way works are scheduled in advance, we would waste money and fail to make timely repairs to the road to benefit all local residents and businesses.

“However, we do apologise that the advance notice sign boards were put up later than usual.”