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Residents fuming as A34 gap closed without warning

A34 gap closure

The view from the bottom of Longfield Avenue towards the A34 with the gap now closed off

Longfield Avenue residents are fuming after a gap in the A34 central reservation at the bottom of their road that has been used  for decades was closed off by Staffordshire County Council.

Residents say the closure took place on Friday with no warning or consultation.

A Staffordshire County Council spokesman said today that the closure is for “safety reasons” – but residents say there have never been any accidents there.

The closure has been carried out as part of the works at another gap on the A34 at Whitemill Lane but residents say plans for those works didn’t show that closure was planned for Longfield Avenue.

Longfield Avenue resident Michael Hartshorne said: “The closure means about 50 houses’ residents have to turn north on the A34 to go south. We’ll all either use the Walton estate as a rat run, or do a U-turn outside The Wayfarer to go south. I saw one of the workmen and talked to him about this action and he said the gap we use is strictly a footpath and we have been breaking the law by using it for the last 80 years. Everyone feels really annoyed at the inconvenience, and very frustrated that this has been done with no time for consultation.”
A34 gap closure

Th gap is closed off on Friday. Photo by Michael Hartshorne

David Beauchamp added: “The plans for Whitemill Lane were clearly publicised and the maps which were sent out gave no indication of the intention to close this gap. Should there not have been some notice given of a plan to close a right of way to cars?

“I fully understand the changes to the gap opposite Whitemill Lane, which was always dangerous for cars as well as pedestrians, but I fail to see how closing this gap increases safety. As far as I’m aware, there have been no accidents in the 23 years I have lived here, and the recent reductions in the speed limit surely make the crossing even safer.”

A34 gap closure

Cllr Jill Hood

Town and borough councillor Jill Hood has been contacted by Longfield Avenue residents and has called for the gap to be re-opened.

She said today: “At the packed public meeting on the Whitemill Lane gap earlier this year, we were told that the Longfield Avenue gap would not be closed off. We now have the ridiculous situation of a safe crossing for residents closed off and drivers doing a U-turn at the Wayfarer junction, an extremely dangerous crossing where many accidents and even fatalities have occurred.

“The cut-through should be re-opened immediately and once again safely used as it has been since the 1960s. Even more danger has now been diverted to the Yarnfield junction which statistics prove is an accident hot spot. I hope that the two county councillors will soon resolve this for the Walton residents.”

A county council spokesman told us today: “Motorists should not be turning right on to the A34 at the bottom of Longfield Avenue. There is a sign clearly stating that they should turn left. The gap is being closed off for safety reasons.”

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