Nightmare roadworks after dark in Saffron Walden

The overnight roadworks in Saffron Walden were described as 'torture' by one resident.

The overnight roadworks in Saffron Walden were described as 'torture' by one resident. - Credit: Archant

Overnight roadworks in a residential street kept children awake and was “like torture” for families – now the nightmare could be repeated in a street near you.

A number of families in Saffron Walden were left “angry and ­frustrated” with Essex County Council after having their sleep disturbed by roadworks on the Debden Road/Borough Lane junction last week.

Sub-contractors had been ­installing traffic lights, resulting in roadworks for seven weeks, and the final phase involved drilling and grinding to resurface the road.

According to residents, Essex County Council (ECC) told them it could only be done after dark because Borough Lane was classified as a “traffic sensitive street”. This is defined as “a road on which any work will create unacceptable delays and disruption to highway users at ­specified times”.

It could have wider ­implications for Uttlesford, and spark similar backlashes from ­residents, after it emerged ECC is proposing a further 133 ­locations across the district where daytime roadworks would be banned – there are 38 locations at the moment – and open up the prospect of more nightly roadworks.

The Reporter understands ECC consulted on these additional night regulations in July, but only targeted responses from “highways works promoters, utility companies and their regulators”, and not residents or town and parish councils.

Saffron Walden county councillor John Lodge said ECC had also failed to inform him about the proposals.

Most Read

“Night-time drilling outside children’s bedrooms is unacceptable, and should only be permitted in very special circumstances,” he said.

“I will be asking Essex Highways about its failure to consult properly with local residents on more ­night-time road closures.”

Speaking about the Debden Road roadworks, Cllr Lodge said: “The disregard for residents, their homes and children is outrageous.

“It seems Essex County Council has caused as much disruption to families as it possibly could, and using what seems like a spurious reason. It is unacceptable.”

The overnight work was ­scheduled for the first two days of the school term.

After the first night, Claire North, who lives adjacent to the junction, said: “I got to sleep at 2am-ish with ear plugs, then was woken up one hour later because the whole house was vibrating and the noise felt right on top of us – both kids woke up and then there was very little sleep for anybody.”

Adelle Priest, of Debden Road, speaking after a second night of disruption, said: “It was absolutely hideous last night, much worse than the night before. I had three ­children with no sleep at all, one crying all night because the noise was hurting her ears.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful the way we have been treated – it was like torture.”

An Essex Highways spokesman said: “The works took place overnight as the junction needed to be completely shut.

“This could not be done during the day as Borough Lane is a ‘traffic sensitive’ street which means work cannot be carried out during busy times. We apologise for the ­disruption experienced by local residents. The majority of the works were carried out over the school holidays to minimise disturbance.

“Unfortunately, the final phase required a night-time road closure for two nights to carry out resurfacing works.

“Letters were sent to local residences and notices were displayed on the road. No further night time work is expected.”