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Fears as Newmarket Street closure looms
A RUN of 5,000 leaflets has sparked anger, but little surprise, among the Hereford businesses due to be affected by the four-week eastbound closure of Newmarket Street.
The information from Herefordshire Council, Welsh Water and Hereford Futures was sent out late last week – after the Hereford Times exclusively revealed the road closure plan.
The official diversion marked out in the leaflets asks drivers to avoid Newmarket Street from May 12 by travelling north up Edgar Street and Holmer Road before turning right onto Roman Road and returning into Hereford via Aylestone Hill.
The map provided has left out the eastern part of Newtown Road in an apparent attempt to stop motorists taking a shorter diversion along Widemarsh Street.
But many businesses located in the area believe that it will take more than clever editing to stop the 11,000 motorists who use Newmarket Street on a daily basis from travelling down Widemarsh Street.
Rod McColl said the extra congestion will hurt those companies that rely on quick and easy access.
“It’s going to kill business here,” said Mr McColl.
“People will sit in traffic for the first week then decide to avoid the area for the next three.”
And alongside businesses like City Plumbing and HiQ, and numerous other automotive businesses on the half-mile stretch, accessibility is at a premium for Mr McColl’s business.
“Anyone who knows Hereford will take Widemarsh Street,” he added.
“Three or four times a day the road is already at a standstill, spin it how you want but if you’re asking an extra 500 cars an hour to use the road it’s going to be a nightmare.
“I’m going to be sitting in traffic for half an hour just to test out a car.”
The logistics may be worse still for City Plumbing, which relies on five deliveries a week from articulated lorries.
Unable to turn on the forecourt in heavy traffic, delivery drivers must park on the road to unload – and are now faced with unloading both sides of the lorry in the street.
Stuart Thomas, of City Plumbing, said: “I can’t see how it won’t affect our trade.
But it’s no surprise with this council.”
Mr Thomas, who also was unaware of the diversion until last week, admitted any business that relies on tradesmen picking up supplies throughout the day – including neighbouring building suppliers Wickes and Timber Centre Hereford – would fall victim to a congested Widemarsh Street as people will “just avoid the whole area”.
Their concern is borne out of experience – recent roadworks have given an unwelcome insight into the impact even minor breakdowns in infrastructure can have on Hereford’s central road network.
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