UPLYME councillors have said the parish has been “let down” by Devon County Council, following its slow response to deal with a number of highways issues in the village.
Uplyme has been hit by a number of road closures and diversions in recent weeks, as well as “dangerous” potholes caused by the bad weather.
Road works have affected Lyme Road, Pound Lane, Whalley Lane and Lime Kiln Lane. Residents have complained of confusion over road closure dates and locations, and parish council chairman Chris James said there was “panic” in the village after a road closure sign was seen on the main B3165 through Uplyme, but it was later revealed that highways workmen were supposed to have left the sign in Lime Kiln Lane.
Diversions have resulted in the village’s narrow lanes becoming congested, larger vehicles getting stuck, rubbish not being collected and “near accidents”, with many residents taking to social media to express their concerns.
Residents have also complained about potholes, including one particularly dangerous hole on the B3165 in Yawl, which has damaged vehicles and was eventually filled in by local resident James Booth after receiving no response from the county council.
The issues were raised at this month’s Uplyme Parish Council meeting, where county councillor Ian Hall apologised and said the matters had not been helped by a shortage and change of staff in the highways department.
Councillor Hall said he was “less than impressed” with the way the issues had been handled but he knew he had to be held accountable as the village’s county councillor.
Uplyme councillor Andrew Turner praised Councillor Hall and parish clerk Ricky Neave for trying to deal with the highways issues, commenting: “Ian and Ricky have done so well in trying to get things done when we have been so let down by Devon County Council.”
‘Nothing gets done’
Referring to the pothole on the B3165, he added: “For someone from the parish to go and buy tarmac and fill in a pothole… how many times do we have to contact the emergency line before something gets done? It’s damaged cars and is going to cost thousands in repairs.
“It’s still dropping, it’s still dangerous. Numerous times we have contacted them and nothing is done about it. Even though it’s an emergency, nothing happens.”
Referring to the county councillor with responsibility for highways, Councillor Turner added: “Stuart Hughes needs a kick up the backside!”
Councillor Hall said he was “less than satisfied” and suggested the parish council write him a “strongly worded letter”, assuring them he would be put it “in the right hands”.
“The people I represent deserve better than this. I do share your frustration,” he added.
Councillor James replied: “We do appreciate you have done all you can with highways and it’s just a lot of difficult issues coming at once.”
Councillor Hall said he felt like “only half the job is being done”, adding that Mr Booth was “absolutely admirable” for filling in the pothole.
Despite the recent frustrations over road closures, Councillor James condemned the behaviour of some residents while flood prevention works were carried out on Lyme Road.
“Some residents were totally out of order with the contractors and our local PCSO, who was met with abuse and swearing,” he said.
“I’m sorry it was an inconvenience to the village and Lyme Regis community, but at least it’s done and will protect our village.”
Councillor James expressed concern that future developments planned for Uplyme, including the building of a new school, would continue to affect traffic flow through the village and suggested a full traffic survey be carried out.
He added that highways concerns were the biggest issue raised in the Uplyme Neighbourhood Plan and it was a “miracle” no one had been seriously injured on the village’s roads.
Councillor James also said the problems did not just affect Uplyme but also people visiting Lyme Regis, as it was a major route into the town. Councillor Hall said he would be supportive of any application for funding from the county council to deal with highways issues, including a traffic survey so the village had an independent view of how best to move forward.
Councillor Turner suggested that Uplyme should collaborate with Lyme Regis on the issue of highways, as Lyme Regis Town Council was already planning a traffic survey of its own.
It was agreed to spend £450 on an initial walk-around with a traffic consultant, and to write a letter to Devon County Council expressing councillors’ disappointment with the way highways matters had been handled.