'Monstrous diversion' for road resurfacing will leave Banbury area pub stranded just as freedom day arrives

A village pub landlord has criticised highways chiefs for closing a main artery road to Banbury overnight for two weeks, deterring much-needed custom.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 2:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 2:06 pm
The Saye and Sele Arms landlord says his pub and restaurant will be cut off as highways contractors close the B4035 Banbury - Shipston Road during the evenings
The Saye and Sele Arms landlord says his pub and restaurant will be cut off as highways contractors close the B4035 Banbury - Shipston Road during the evenings

Paul Hawkins-Row of the Saye and Sele Arms, Broughton, described the road closure - which begins next Wednesday (July 14) - as 'monstrous'.

Oxfordshire highways are closing the B4035 from the Queensway roundabout in Banbury to Ell's Lane for much-needed resurfacing. The closures will last from 8pm - 6am and be in two stages, from Queensway to Crouch Hill Farm between July 14 - 21 and from Broughton to Ell's Lane from July 21 - 26.

All traffic, including HGVs, will be diverted to the A361 through Bloxham towards Banbury but drivers using sat-nav are likely to be taken through the narrow lanes around the area.

The B4035 will be closed off from 8pm - 6am between Queensway and Crouch Hill Farm for a week and for six nights from Broughton to Ell's Lane

Mr Hawkins-Row said: "They were meant to be resurfacing all the way from Banbury to Lower Tadmarton but their budget won't run to that, so it will stop at Crouch Hill Farm and start again just outside our pub, ending at Ell's Lane.

"We're told the workers will be allowed to let cars into the pub car park but we are expecting the huge diversion signs will put people off.

"I don't understand why they are closing a major artery in this part of the country. Why not have a contraflow as they normally do to let traffic pass one side or the other. This is a monstrous diversion."

Mr Hawkins-Row, who runs the pub with his business partner Gale Issett, said he thought it would affect trade 'massively' on top of 16 months of disastrous interruption in normal trade through restrictions. And he feels the county council should have used quiet lockdown conditions to do the work.

"I don't get the timing. People have been locked down all this time but they're starting it on 'freedom day'. It's going to affect trade massively. We now have to decide whether to risk staffing the pub for food and then perhaps have them sit doing nothing. And we have to make decisions about what supplies we buy. The shelf-life is relatively short as it's all fresh food.

"This has been going on for 16months. It's had a disastrous effect. We had a lot of plans for the pub; we were going to make an orangery on the terrace outside, encased in a glass shell with bi-fold doors to open in hot weather but close in winter to make extra space. We were also considering raising the roof to create letting rooms but we've had to use all that money - and some of our own savings - to keep going.

"There was no rhyme or reason to the Government's grant aid which fell woefully short. We're now half way through summer, people are still scared to come out and with the road closure we just won't accumulate the money we need to get us through the quiet months of October and November."

Mr Hawkins-Row said he was concerned that heavy traffic would use narrow lanes that are not built for lorries.

In a letter to residents on the road improvement route, Oxfordshire County Council said: "The road closure is necessary for Health and Safety Regulations. Vehicle access for frontages and affected cul de sacs will be maintained as far as practical. However there may be occasions where this is not possible... Affected residents will be directed by signs and site personnel to the most suitable local alternative route in and out from their property or cul de sac."

Highways officer Nick Watson apologised in advance for the likely noise and disruption the work will cause during the night works.

"The contractors are required to undertake the noisiest activity of removing the old road surface as early in the evening as possible to minimise the inconvenience. After 11pm they are required to reduce the noise as much as practically possible and use whatever nose suppression they have on the equipment."