Newly-tarmacked road is dug up by utility firm

A utility giant is digging up a rat-run road – just days after it was resurfaced by the council.
Western Power Distribution started carrying out work on Mill Hayes Road, in Knypersley, earlier this month but the road had only just been completely covered in loose chippings by Staffordshire County Council at taxpayers’ expense (ITALICS writes local democracy reporter Joe Burn).
Now community leaders have accused the council of a “lack of joined-up thinking”.
Biddulph West councillor Nigel Yates said: “The surface had been dressed with proper M6 tarmac – they actually did a very good job. Everyone was very impressed with it.
“Then I got a call to say the road was being dug up. Talk about a lack of joined-up thinking.”
The works are part of a £1.4m investment in the electricity network around Biddulph, Leek and Congleton. It includes upgrading substations in Leek.
The Mill Hayes Road work involves moving the existing overhead lines underground. Four-way temporary traffic lights are currently in operation at the junction of Mill Hayes Road, Park Lane and St David’s Way.
Similar works have been carried out on Biddulph Valley Way.
A Western Power Distribution spokesman said: “In preparation for our work at Knypersley, we followed the usual procedures for submitting notices to the council relating to the excavation of the highway. These notices were submitted in December. We were not made aware of any other work taking place in the area.
“When the project is completed, we will top dress the track we have excavated and restore it to the condition in which we found it when work began. As always, with any essential work of this kind, we apologise for any inconvenience caused.
“The current phase of the project is expected to be completed in about six weeks. Some of this work may take longer than usual because of the need to adhere to social distancing guidelines.”
The council said it was “not possible” to co-ordinate the resurfacing and the utility works.
County Coun Helen Fisher, Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Keeping a rural county the size of Staffordshire on the move can be a challenge at times, especially when you have to factor in highways maintenance, major developments, utility and telecom projects and emergency work – sometimes all at once.
“Our highways teams do work closely with utility companies to ensure resurfacing jobs do not clash with their own works. Unfortunately on this occasion it was not possible to co-ordinate the works. We are in discussions with Western Power Distribution regarding possible resurfacing at a later date.”