Anger over new delay at roadworks

ANGRY AT DELAYS ... Couns Jim Perry and Iain Malcolm.
ANGRY AT DELAYS ... Couns Jim Perry and Iain Malcolm.

ANGRY council bosses are demanding an urgent inquiry into a delay-hit major roadworks scheme hitting thousands of motorists and South Tyneside’s economy.

Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, has written to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, expressing major concerns about repairs to the Whitemare Pool roundabout at Wardley.

Work on the roundabout revamp started in February 2010, and was due to be completed in November last year. But now the scheme is not due to be finished until August – up to 10 months late – hitting the summer tourist season.

Fed-up drivers have faced long delays and diversions at the roundabout and along the A194 and A184 roads for more than a year, and council officials say enough is enough.

Coun Malcolm said: “This is turning into a comedy of errors, and we are demanding an inquiry by the Highways Agency into this much-delayed scheme.

“These delays are hitting the South Tyneside economy and causing major traffic problems for motorists throughout the borough, day-in, day-out.

“We’ve had enough and are also extremely concerned that we cannot seem to make contact with the transport officials involved with the scheme.

“That’s why I’ve written to the transport secretary, to demand some action.”

Coun Malcolm added: “Granted, we had a bad winter, but Whitemare Pool is the gateway to South Tyneside, and what do potential developers see when they approach the borough?

“Huge roadworks.

“I intend getting the support of the leaders of Gateshead and Sunderland councils in calling for a resolution to this situation.”

His comments were backed by councillors Jim Perry and Alan Kerr, who visited Whitemare Pool with the leader to inspect progress on the scheme, which is aimed at extending the life of the roundabout, which opened about 40 years ago.

Coun Perry said: “Drivers are just fed up with the delays. These works were supposed to be finished months ago, but are being hit by more and more delays.”

Concerns about long tailbacks on the A194 road into Jarrow have already been raised by Coun Steve Harrison, for the Fellgate and Hedworth ward.