Sol Central saga rumbles on as high winds keep safety inspectors grounded

Roads gridlocked and 3,000 buses diverted as roads remain closed

By Kevin Nicholls
Friday, 14th February 2020, 3:28 pm
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 3:30 pm
Roads around Sol Central have remained closed since Sunday
Roads around Sol Central have remained closed since Sunday

Around 3,000 buses have been forced to find a way around Northampton this week with three town centre roads blocked.

Sol Central's owners still do not know when they will be able to declare the area safe around the leisure and entertainment complex after Storm Ciara ripped off part of the roof on Sunday.

Horsemarket, Marefair and Gold Street are all cordoned off causing gridlock on other roads as motorists follow diversions.

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And passengers are suffering delays of up to 40 minutes as the town's main bus operator Stagecoach is forced to send 44 buses an hour on diversions to and from North Gate.

Stagecoach marketing manager Chris Child said: "The closure for Sol Central is causing major disruption for our customers.

"We would clearly like to see the area reopened quickly. However, we fully understand that health and safety must come first and we would like thank our customer for their understanding."

County Highways need Sol Central engineers to make a closer examination of the damage using high-rise work platforms before they can re-open the roads.

Stagecoach have been forced to divert services from North Gate causing delays

But experts have so far been grounded by high winds which are forecast to carry on until the middle of next week.

Videos went viral of one passing motorist's lucky escape when a panel crashed down from the Sol Central roof, missing their car by inches, as Sunday's storm hit Northampton with gusts of up to 70mph.

And there is the danger of more damage in the town this weekend with Storm Dennis due to bring more 50mph gusts tomorrow (Saturday February 15) and Sunday.

The complex – which houses Vue cinema, Ibis hotel, a gym, yoga studio and beauty salon – issued a tweet earlier this week confirming all its business and the complex car park remain open.