Demands are made to re-instate ancient wildflower verges after Helmdon water works create a rat-run

A villager in Falcutt, near Helmdon, is on a mission to force Anglian Water to re-seed trashed verges on a lane that has been used as a rat run because of its road closure.
Falcutt resident Simon Harris shows the damage done by hundreds of vehicles a day on the tiny lane between Helmdon and his villageFalcutt resident Simon Harris shows the damage done by hundreds of vehicles a day on the tiny lane between Helmdon and his village
Falcutt resident Simon Harris shows the damage done by hundreds of vehicles a day on the tiny lane between Helmdon and his village

Simon Harris said Anglian Water closed Station Road, Helmdon for three months to replace a water main.

"A road diversion via Sulgrave was put in place which is a round trip of nearly seven miles. Mr Izzard the project manager, knew the diversion would not be used and allowed traffic to take the short cut along Falcutt Lane which is single track of about .60 of a mile and has a metalled width of about 10ft.

"The lane is heavily used by walkers, riders, joggers and dog walkers and usually has a traffic flow of about 20 to 40 movements a day. Following the closure of Station Road the traffic movements increased to several hundred each day which included HGVs."

Mr Harris said he does not believe traffic or risk assessments, or a traffic management plan, were carried out.

"As a result the verges, which had a significant covering of wild flowers and a variety of grasses, have been trashed. Mr Izzard was informed this would happen but took no action to prevent it," said Mr Harris.

Mr Harris claims Anglian refuses to commit to reinstatement of the verges. And he fears the matter will be handed to Northamptonshire Highways who may asphalt over the damage, preventing any growth and increasing traffic speed.

An inspection meeting has been arranged but Anglian will not allow Mr Harris to attend on the basis that they cannot guarantee his safety.

"I am concerned decisions are being made affecting us and without our knowledge. I am only asking for an open forum," he said.

"I feel very strongly about this matter. I have planted over an acre of trees along the lane, have had a long length of hedge laid and have been re-establishing the wild flowers over several years. Our verges are of national importance having never been sprayed or fertilised and have a great variety of fauna and flora."

Mr Harris said no driver was going to follow a seven-mile diversion but with a traffic management plan, the damage could have been avoided.

Parish councillor Danny Moody, who has been invited to the inspection as a representative of Falcutt, said: "Anglian Water has worked closely with the community during the works to ensure disruption was kept to a minimum. I welcome the opportunity to join Anglian Water and Northamptonshire Highways on the inspection of the completed works."

Mr Moody said he would report back to all Falcutt residents including Mr Harris. He said the damage had been caused by drivers failing to follow the official diversion, which Anglian Water said had to be on roads of a similar type of carriageway to the closed road.

An Anglian Water spokesperson: “Our teams have recently completed a mains laying scheme in Helmdon which will help to improve the resilience of our supply to the local area for many years to come.

“Unfortunately, a number of grass verges on Church Street were damaged by local road users who decided to ignore the multitude of official diversion signs in order to save time, despite additional traffic management measures being put in place.

“In order to assess the damage caused, we will be liaising with the local Highways Authority and councils to determine what can be done to rectify the damage. We’d like to thank local residents for their patience and understanding while this vital work was completed.”