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Road closure to affect trade says service station owner

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: May 09, 2013

By FRANCESCA TAFFS

MAP: The A377 map and suggested diversion.

MAP: The A377 map and suggested diversion.

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CLOSING a busy stretch of North Devon road for three days has left people confused and businesses out of pocket.

The A377 was closed by Devon County Council on Tuesday morning between Langham Bridge Cross, which is near Chapelton, and Pound Lane End, near Umberleigh.

But the first anyone knew about the works were when signs were put up on the road on Saturday, just three days before the closure was due to start.

Drivers are being diverted via South Molton.

Gerald Colwill is the owner of Murco Service Station on the A377 which sits in the middle of the closure.

He estimates the total loss to his business could be in the region of £10,000 if the road is closed until Thursday.

He also said he was given no prior warning of the closure by Devon County Council's highways department.

"The only time I noticed any signs was on Sunday morning when I drove back from Barnstaple," he said.

"When I rang the highways they said as it was an emergency resurfacing job they were not legally obliged to give any notice. There is a lot of confusion among local people. We don't seem to know what is happening. They were very vague about it.

"The sign says it will be closed on May 7 and 8 but we have heard it could be closed until Thursday.

"It is seriously damaging to our business. We stand to lose around £6,000 from the shop alone. It will be probably between £9,000 and £10,000 in total.

Mr Colwill has owned the garage with his wife Janet for nine years.

He said the week following a bank holiday is always busy, meaning the effects of the closure will be felt even more.

"The sad thing is the week following any bank holiday is the week when a lot of people come down and spend time here," he added.

"In this tough economic time this is not ideal.

"I accept these things have to be done but even a telephone call would have helped, just to explain."

Mr Colwill is keen to stress to drivers they can still access the petrol station during the closure.

A Devon County Council spokesman said: "We apologise for the short notice but these are emergency works to replace the drainage on this section of the A377 as part of our on-going flood recovery efforts following the extensive damage sustained across Devon in recent months.

"To minimise disruption as much as possible we are ensuring that patching works are also carried out during this closure, and signs are in place saying businesses are open as usual."

It was also confirmed the works are scheduled to last until May 9.

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