National Grid blamed for Buxton ‘traffic chaos’

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The “traffic chaos” which ground Buxton’s roads to a standstill last year was the result of bungling National Grid ignoring council instructions, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

On November 4, roads around Buxton ground to a halt because of work being undertaken on Fairfield Road.

Norman Torkington, 77, was one of the victims caught in the chaos – spending almost one hour driving from Buxton to Dove Holes to walk his son’s dogs.

After escaping the jam, an investigative Mr Torkington sent a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Derbyshire County Council to find out how the problem occurred.

Mr Torkington, who lives with wife Carole, 70, on Park Road, said: “The roads were horrendous and I dread to think how much money local businesses lost as a result of the congestion.

“It just didn’t seem like a proper time to be carrying out such a job, that’s why I submitted the request.”

And it turns out Mr Torkington’s hunch was right – National Grid should not have undertaken the work when they did.

The FOI request revealed that National Grid (NG) submitted a notice to Derbyshire County Council on October 17 last year advising of proposed roadworks between Tuesday November 4 and Monday November 10.

The council responded by saying roadworks on Fairfield Road could only be carried out on a Sunday.

Despite this, NG started work on the Tuesday as planned – resulting in chaos for Buxton and surrounding areas.

Mr Torkington added: “Imagine if there had been a huge emergency which required ambulances and fire engines – it could have been devastating.

“I hope National Grid has learned its lesson now and will follow instructions from people who actually know the area in future.”

A National Grid spokesperson said: “We apologise for the traffic disruption caused by work on Fairfield Road in November.

“We did not properly process the council’s request for the work to be carried out on a different date. This was an isolated incident and we’ve taken steps to ensure it will not be repeated.”

A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “We always do all we can to ensure minimum disruption to motorists and took immediate action once it became clear that National Grid were working outside agreed conditions on this occasion.

“We’re currently working to introduce a new permit scheme which will make utility companies more accountable and face fines if they break permit conditions.”