Businesses' anger at Wellingborough bridge delay

Businesses in the Leyland Trading Estate are angry that it will be another year until the new Irthlingborough Road bridge is open
Businesses in the Leyland Trading Estate are angry that it will be another year until the new Irthlingborough Road bridge is open

Business owners are furious that a Wellingborough bridge will not open for another year, with one saying the four-mile diversion which is in place could spell the end of their business.

The Irthlingborough Road bridge, linking the town to the Leyland Trading Estate, was closed in October and demolished as part of Network Rail’s electrification works.

Businesses were promised it would re-open by April with a 4.9 mile diversion in the meantime, but were left furious when it was announced in February that the replacement bridge wouldn’t be built after all.

However, following pressure from businesses and MPs, Network Rail said in April that a replacement bridge would be built, much to the relief of businesses on the estate.

But now they have reacted angrily to the news that the road will not re-open until early summer 2020, a delay which they say will have a severe impact on trade.

Jon Cousens, director of Wellingborough Tyres, said business was down 15 per cent on average each month, something that could force the company to close if it continued for another year.

He said: "It's absolutely disgusting. We anticipated a six-month closure and now it will be an 18-month closure. It could send us under.

"An autumn start date isn't good enough - that could be brought forward. Why can't it be done in a shorter time frame, as it was going to be done originally?

"There has been zero communication - we're finding things out on Facebook. Someone needs to spend a few days here to see what they've caused. We feel let down and misled. If we had been told it was going to be for 18 months, we could have done something about it."

A new road linking the Stanton Cross development and the town centre - Route 4 - is due to open soon but Mr Cousens said this won't fix their problems and will cause congestion at junctions in the area.

Andy Coles, from Sign and Graphic Solutions, said the road closure had impacted businesses which had recently moved on to the estate, thinking the road would only be closed for six months.

He said: "We're disappointed as the road closure was initially only meant to be for six months. Every business on the estate has lost business and the new businesses which moved in on the premise the road would re-open in April are struggling.

"The opening of Route 4 might help but the proof will be in the pudding. We have to weather the storm."

The new bridge will be built at a raised height so high-voltage overhead line equipment can be installed to allow the railway from Bedford to Kettering and Corby to be electrified.

Gavin Crook, principal programme sponsor for Network Rail, said: “I am pleased to be able to announce that we now have a robust programme for the reconstruction of Irthlingborough Road Bridge and I would like to thank residents and business for their continued patience.

“The Midland Main Line upgrade will improve journeys and support the growth of the region - connecting people to more job, education and leisure opportunities - but we do recognise the disruption that the closure of Irthlingborough Road has caused."

Network Rail is holding an information event from 4pm to 7pm on Friday, August 9 at Diana’s Gym in Finedon Road.

Along with information about work to Wellingborough Station, there will be a presentation about Irthlingborough Road Bridge at 5.30pm to 6pm.

For anyone unable to attend, the presentation will be available to download after the event from www.networkrail.co.uk.