Road repairs have been taking place every night along the A259 between Winchelsea and Guestling. For several nights, the A259 has been closed at Winchelsea from 8pm to 6m. Traffic from Rye has been turned back or diverted via Winchelsea Beach and Pett, including vehicles trying to get into or out of Winchelsea.
Residents are up in arms. They say that, at a public exhibition two weeks ago, they were promised by representatives of the Highways Agency and its contractor Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald that they would be able to get into and out of the village with the aid of special escorts. Signed letters were handed out to act as passes.
Unfortunately, when work started last Monday, none of the crews from Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald who closed the roads knew anything about the passes. They resolutely refused to allow residents from Winchelsea to exit to or enter from Rye, in part because they had used Strand Hill as a parking lot, making access physically impossible. One resident, who went to meet her husband at Rye station, found her usual 10-minute round trip extended to an hour and a half as she had to circumnavigate the roadworks by driving via Pett. “So did the people handing out passes at the exhibition forget to tell the people doing the road repairs?”
Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald has also been criticised for inadequate signage, particularly a lack of clear diversion signs. Another resident complained, “Many drivers heading from Rye towards Winchelsea or beyond were clearly unsure what to do. The signs at Rye just said the A259 was closed ahead. There were no proper diversion signs at Winchelsea. And the lack of proper signage on the Hastings side meant that vehicles continued to enter Winchelsea from that direction only to have to turn back at the Strand Gate. It seemed as though this was the first time the Highways Agency or Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald had closed a road for repairs. An utter shambles.”
On the morning after the first night’s work, Winchelsea commuters trying to get to Rye station, many of whom had been delayed getting home the night before, found the road to Rye closed for 90 minutes longer than scheduled.