Switch-on in Dunmow brings a little light relief

PUBLISHED: 08:33 30 October 2009 | UPDATED: 07:26 30 May 2010

The lights on Dunmow’s High Street will be ready for action soon – but not everyone is pleased about it Picture: NICK THOMPSON

The lights on Dunmow’s High Street will be ready for action soon – but not everyone is pleased about it Picture: NICK THOMPSON

LIGHTS in Dunmow s High Street will be switched on before Christmas – but shopkeepers and councillors say that they have become a very unwanted present. Traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing at the entrance to the town centre s eastern sector housing d

LIGHTS in Dunmow's High Street will be switched on before Christmas - but shopkeepers and councillors say that they have become a very unwanted present.

Traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing at the entrance to the town centre's eastern sector housing development will be activated in mid-November following months of delays.

However, the news has been met with fierce criticism from many shopkeepers, and now town councillors, who have said that the lights will cause chaos for drivers and customers.

High Street Butcher, Nick Hards, from H Stokes, said that the lights and the widening of the road has resulted in a loss of parking spaces and is "killing that end of town".

"Our profits have almost halved," he said. "The whole thing has been a shambles from start to finish. By the time the lights actually get switched on I wouldn't be surprised if some of the shops at this end of town are already closed."

Staff from cafés, hairdressers, chip shops and a convenience store have all said that customers have been inhibited by the lack of parking space.

And, now that all the work is finished and the lights are due to be put into use, the problems are not over, according to town councillors involved in Dunmow's official traffic management group.

Cllr Phillip Milne, said: "I am not looking forward to the switch on because it will be chaos. The Post Office will suffer because people cannot park outside anymore."

Dunmow's deputy mayor, Cllr Wendy Barron, said that parking is already an issue around the new junction and that she would like to see parking better monitored and enforced.

"We will just have to wait and see what happens," she said. "I can see people having problems driving around there though because it is very narrow at times."

Essex County Council's highways spokesman, Chris Stoneham, admitted that the project had been besieged by problems that had delayed progress.

"There have been a few snags," he said. "Contractors have had to amend the crossing area after getting it wrong first time, and at the moment we are waiting for a missing lighting column to be fitted outside HSBC bank. Once that is done everything will be ready, hopefully, for mid-November.

"I will take a while, but I am drivers will get used to the new junction."

Currently there are no plans to replace the parking spaces that have been lost.

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