Businesses’ anger over White Shops roadworks “fiasco”

White Shops business owners with MP Rishi Sunak.

A senior North Yorkshire County Council official has denied the authority could have done more to reduce delays with the White Shops junction improvements in Catterick Garrison.

However, Neil Linfoot, improvement manager for Highways at the authority, told business owners today that he would attempt to get the work completed sooner than the revised finish date of November 24.

The council officer answered questions from angry business owners at a meeting at JT’s bar at White Shops today.

Mr Linfoot started off by apologising for the delay.

The roadworks were meant to be completed within 12 weeks but are now set to continue until November – almost a year after it was due to finish.

The meeting heard hat around half a dozen utilities had discovered cables and pipes they were unaware of and that needed moving when work started.

Vodafone has also come under fire for not moving its cables when it said it would – a claim the company has rejected.

It was suggested at the meeting that workers knew as soon as they started that the work was more complicated than anticipated.

Mr Linfoot was asked why the initial survey had not found the extra cables and why, when they were discovered, was the work not halted and the traffic lights removed until further surveying could be completed, rather than left with no work taking place at the site.

He told the businesses that the decision was taken to carry on and leave the lights and cones up.

Philip Carter, owner of Subway, said about the contractors: “They’ve been there for nine months just twiddling their thumbs.”

“It’s like people don’t care,” one business owner said, adding: “It’s been like this for months with nobody doing any work.”

People said it could take three quarters of an hour to get through the roadworks during rush hour with congestion back to the A1.

Ambulances had been seen having to wait with their lights flashing because they could not get through the roadworks safely, the meeting was told.

Mr Linfoot was asked by business owners for the name of the officer who did the original surveying work, but refused to give it.

Businesses told him they faced going out of business because of the work which was described as a “fiasco”.

Another added: “The inefficiency of this work is making us all bankrupt.”

Someone else said: “We’ve been here for 35 years and we will be shut within two months.”

Business owners were told that although the council could claim compensation from the utility companies, they could not claim compensation from the authority.

The meeting was attended by local councillors Angie Dale and Helen Grant, as well as Richmond MP Rishi Sunak.

He pledged to put pressure on Vodafone to move their cables quicker.

He also told the businesses he would help to find out why the delays had happened.

Mr Linfoot said he did not believe North Yorkshire County Council was responsible for the delays and that they could not have been avoided as the survey was done correctly despite the cables being missed.

However, he said had listened to the businesses’ complaints and said he would attempt to reduce the length of the traffic lights and cones as requested, and alter the timing of the lights to reduce congestion, if possible.

He added that he would do what he could to ensure the work finished before November 24.