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Lights on ‘rat ‘run’ for some yet, says vicar

Traffic lights on a busy cut-through are likely to remain in place for several weeks.

As we reported last week, a stone fell out of the high retaining wall of the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, Astbury, and landed on Peel Lane last week.

An investigation needs to take place to determine the stability of the wall – and until then temporary lights on Peel Lane are keeping traffic away from the site of the breach, with the rector, the Rev Ann-Marie Naylor, writing in the latest parish magazine that the lights will be up for “at least a month”.

She wrote: “A stone fell out of the high retaining wall between the churchyard and Peel Lane. Though no damage was done, we will need to take action to assure ourselves and our neighbours of the stability of the wall.

“Until further investigations have been carried out, we have been advised that vehicular access to the road alongside the wall needs to be restricted to one lane only.”

Mrs Naylor this week told us: “Behind the scenes at St Mary’s Astbury is a continual programme of inspection and preventative maintenance to keep this ancient and important structure in good order.

“With increasing traffic along Peel Lane, coupled with heavy rainfall over recent months, we need to do some work to assess the continued stability of the high retaining wall between the churchyard and Peel Lane.

“Until this been carried out, we have been advised that vehicular access to the road alongside the wall needs to be restricted to one lane only through a traffic management system. The initial work will take place over a one-month period, and we will then be in a position to assess what further work (if any) needs to be done.

“We are aware that this will inevitably cause some inconvenience to road users in the parish and apologise for this in advance. We will do our best to minimise this. We will endeavour to keep the parish council informed as matters progress.”

Newbold Astbury cum Moreton Parish Council chair Coun Judith Critchlow told us last week: “There’s a bit of a lean on the wall, but we won’t know any more about what will need to happen until the monitoring is completed.”

In 2018, we reported that concerns been raised over the wall as a potential health and safety risk, due to its instability.

Newbold Astbury cum Moreton Parish Council heard that residents have raised concerns about the current state of the wall and were worried that it could give way “at any moment”.

Speaking at the meeting in 2018, Coun John Carter said: “A couple of parishioners at the latter part of last year expressed concern to me about the condition of the tinning wall by the church steps.” We reported that in October 2017 the chartered building surveyor undertaking the quinquennial inspection for the diocese had raised similar concerns about the wall. Every Church of England building must be inspected by an architect or chartered building surveyor approved by the Diocesan Advisory Committee every five years.

The report on the church stated that the wall needed “hours” of work and may have leaned so far forward that it had become potentially unstable. The report also highlighted that a structural engineer should check and make recommendations for stabilising the wall because there was a risk it could collapse straight into the road.

Coun Carter added: “It is one thing people voicing an opinion about the wall, but when a professional confirms it then we do have an issue here. It is difficult for us as a parish council not to have the safety of the parish as a priority. If something did happen then the consequences could be massive.”

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