A BUSINESS owner has hit out at 'ridiculous' roadworks which have shut a well-used route and impacted her trade.

Resurfacing work began on November 16 to repair a 3.7-mile stretch of the A352 through the villages of Longburton and Holnest after the road’s condition deteriorated.

The A-road is closed in both directions between 9am and 4pm on weekdays until Friday, December 2 but remains open during the evenings and at weekends.

Becky Gibbons is landlady of the Rose and Crown pub and runs a village shop called The Larder within the venue's car park.

She claims that the roadworks have prevented villagers and suppliers from accessing her businesses - causing more difficulties for her as she battles against the tough economic climate triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.'

Dorset Council previously said businesses would remain open and accessible during the road closure but warned drivers that they may have to park and walk a short distance to complete their visit safely.

'We have a business trying to keep going and no one is going through the village and it is dead'

Bournemouth Echo: The roadworks underway on the A352The roadworks underway on the A352

Mrs Gibbons said: “There have been difficulties of suppliers not being to access us and customers from the village and surrounding areas not being able to reach us.

“We have residents that can walk and get to us but there are a lot of people who are elderly and they cannot carry bottles of milk and heavy items home with them, especially if they live far away.

“Unless people are in a helicopter, how are they getting to me? It’s just silly.

“We have a business trying to keep going and no one is going through the village and it is dead.”

Mrs Gibbons said she was told in advance of the A352 roadworks and claims to have approached Dorset Council about keeping access to her business and unsuccessfully claimed for compensation caused by the roadworks.

While she accepts the repairs must be carried out, she said the roadworks were 'ridiculous and not thought out' and believes they should have been carried out at evenings.

Mrs Gibbons added: “The only way they are letting people through is if you live in the village.

Bournemouth Echo:

“But it depends where you live and where the roadblock is whether you can enter. Otherwise it is a 36-mile detour around Dorset and into Somerset.

“I appreciate it is a busy and long road but there are not any other roads in the area. To get to me, they either have to come from Sherborne or Dorchester.”

The roadworks has already been marred with some controversy - Dorset Council criticised “obstructive and incredibly rude drivers” who directed “verbal abuse” at their workers carrying out the repairs on Monday, November 16.

While Mrs Gibbons condemned the abuse that workers endured, she explained this may have been caused by frustrated residents and motorists who were unable to leave the village or access where they needed to go due to “confusing” signs.

She said: “It is not the workers’ fault; it is the higher ups. Dorset Council has not put clear signage or guidance for drivers and residents and that is why the workers are getting the brunt of it.

“There was a lot of arguing and shouting because they didn’t know how to get out of the village. They were very frustrated on Monday.

“The workers have been great and just doing their job. But we need to be talked to and we need to share what suppliers are coming to us and sadly there has been no discussion.”

Lorries using pub's car park to turn around

Bournemouth Echo:  

Despite the road closure, larger vehicles such as HGVs have continued to use the A352 before drivers have been told to turn around.

Mrs Gibbons observed that this has caused more disruption in the area and drivers are using her driveway and pub’s car park to turn around.

She continued: “Because they have blocked the road, we have had larger vehicles that have been coming through the village, thinking it will be ok, but they are being turned around.

“They are using my driveway to turn around and turn towards Sherborne.

“On Friday, we had Catch of the Day from West Bay come out with a wagon and someone manning our outreach Post Office so people can use the postal service. We usually get a load of support from the community on Fridays.

“But instead, we had to avoid the big juggernauts and make sure people stayed out of the lorries’ way.

“It is not safe to have people turning around using the car park. I have spoken to the council and they suggested using bollards but that stops everyone getting into the driveway and car park, including my suppliers.”

'We warned residents and businesses before roadworks'

Bournemouth Echo: The newly resurfaced A352 outside the Rose and Crown. Picture: Becky Gibbons The newly resurfaced A352 outside the Rose and Crown. Picture: Becky Gibbons

Dorset Council said that residents and businesses were given advance warning of the roadworks – but advised some businesses may not be accessible by vehicle.

David Clegg, Dorset Council Highways Service Manager for Network Operations, said: “Before works started on the A352, we wrote to the parish council and all businesses and properties with frontages in the area being resurfaced.

“Advance warning signs went up along the route two weeks ahead of work starting to allow drivers to plan ahead.

“We’ve published information online and on council social media channels advising of the closure.

“These messages have included promoting that any businesses in the area remaining open or offering a click-and-collect service during the current lockdown, can still be accessed. But that drivers may need to park and walk a short distance to complete their visit safely.

“Due to the large machinery used and for the safety of workers and drivers alike, this work has to be completed under a road closure.”