Milton Road closure is a headache for businesses

The Black Boy at Milton is suffering because of Bloxham road closures. Peter Strickland, landlord. NNL-170108-112543009
The Black Boy at Milton is suffering because of Bloxham road closures. Peter Strickland, landlord. NNL-170108-112543009

The closure of a major road link between Adderbury and Bloxham is causing big issues for businesses along the route.

Diversion of all traffic away from the Milton Road is causing serious loss of trade at the Black Boy Inn at Milton and costly diversions for lorry movements from Smiths of Bloxham.

And the road closure, needed while Thames Water replaces old water mains pipes, is due to continue for another 13 weeks.

Catriona McConnachie, landlady of the Black Boy, said she and her partner Peter were considering laying off their 15 staff. Both are having to do alternative work in a bid to keep their pub business from going under.

“We have 15 staff who have been working really hard to build up the business but we are just going to have to let them go. And they are not going to hang around for months waiting to get their jobs back. Customers who usually drive up the Milton Road aren’t going to make a nine-mile diversion.”

Ms McConnachie said the pub had not been told in advance about the impending road closure.

Smiths of Bloxham is suffering loss of visiting trade and diversions to all jobs to the west of their business are costing considerably more in extra time and fuel.

“We want Thames Water’s sub-contractors to be allowed to work through the night to get this job done in half the time,” said Andrew Smith.

“For us to cross Bloxham out towards Chipping Norton, we are having to send lorries through Deddington and Hempton to the A 361. It is a 12.9-mile detour to deliver a skip to Bloxham and the big lorries only do eight miles to the gallon.”

Lee Irving, of Thames Water, said the work was part of a £640,000 upgrade of Banbury’s water mains, which is well under way.

“Thames Water engineers are at Milton Road for the 14-week scheme which will see old cast iron pipes replaced with tougher, stronger plastic pipes,” he said.

“Due to the size of the pipe and the depth it’s buried, it’s a complicated job for engineers and therefore needs an extended road closure.

“It was decided to start the work during the school summer holidays as there is less traffic on the roads and would cause less disruption.

“Thames Water is working with local businesses to try and minimise its impact and is also in discussion with the local authority to improve traffic management. Several ‘business open as usual’ signs have also been strategically placed to inform members of the public that businesses remain trading.”

Project manager Jon Wickens said: “Although we appreciate our work will cause some delays, feedback from our customers is they want to see us investing money and upgrading our ageing network of pipes to reduce leaks and bursts.

“They want reliable water supplies that are fit for the future so it’s vital we replace the old pipes.”