'This business is my life. It is crippling me': Sinkhole causes major disruption in Longridge as roadworks continue

Local residents are facing difficulties with diversion traffic and businesses remain 'unbelievably quiet' as a works continue on a sinkhole on Inglewhite Road in Longridge.

By James Holt
Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 3:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 3:34 pm

And it is the second time since last year that the ground has crumbled and needed emergency road closures in place along the same stretch of road.

The sinkhole first began to open up on July 20 on Inglewhite Road, Longridge, forcing the council to instruct an emergency closure which was expected to only last a few short days, once the depression had been refilled.

However following their investigation, it became evident the cause of the sinkage was a sewer collapse which needed work to be carried out by United Utilities.

Resident Gemma Cowburn and Ashley Noblett from Kake are fed up of the sinkhole

Residents now remain concerned that road damage will only continue to worsen, with a larger influx of traffic and heavy vehicles using the road and the recent development of new builds.

And local businesses claim they are suffering 'massive' losses as the roadworks are putting people off and forcing them to shop elsewhere, with diversions causing 'ridiculous' levels of traffic.

The owner of a new cake and dessert takeaway shop that only opened during the pandemic last year said she has already lost half of the business.

A spokesperson from G Rowles Butchers told the Post: "It has massively impacted our business because people can't park up outside or even drive past because they have closed the road.

The road closure has been in place since July 20

"We are having to tell staff not to bother coming in because of how quiet it is. People can't get through because the road outside the shop is closed, so people are just going elsewhere.

"It has really been a massive hit for us and we will be looking into how we can claim any compensation for what we have lost as a business.

"We also have a deli in the butchers which is popular with people who work locally who come in for their lunch, but they can't get through so our usual customers are having to go somewhere else.

"People are absolutely disgusted by how long it's taking - it has affected so many people. The workmen are often gone by 3 pm and aren't there on weekends, so there are days when nobody is there but we are still trading like normal."

Businesses, such as G Rowles butchers want compensation from the council

And Ashley Noblett, owner of Kake takeaway shop said: "I was originally affected by the restrictions during Covid-19 as a small business. Just as summer was coming and families were off school and work I was ready for an increase in footfall and to be much busier.

"I chose this spot because it is a busy road and people are always walking and driving past, but since this happened, I have had not been able to afford any staff in my shop and it is absolutely crippling me.

"As soon as that summer break came, so did the road closure. I just couldn't believe it - we were told it would be just a few days and weeks later we are still here.

"Since then I have lost over half of my business and I am really struggling and I can't afford to have staff in. Businesses deserve some compensation and support for this, we all need to come together and try because warning just a day before is not good enough. I cannot move my business - this is my life."

Locals have been told they will have to wait until the end of next week

Just last year, Lancashire County Council were forced to put up temporary traffic lights near another sinkhole that opened up in February, on Inglewhite Road between Sainsbury's and Berry Lane.

The council has this morning issued an update on the closure, which is currently in place on Inglewhite Road after the surface of the road collapsed into the ground, stating that works are due to continue later in the week.

A short diversion has been signed via Derby Road, Whittingham Road, Halfpenny Lane, and Inglewhite Road to direct people around the closure, but local residents say the council failed to take into account the traffic issues already affecting the area.

The works have also coincided with gas works being carried out near the Old Oak pub.

Gemma Cowburn, 34, who lives above the Kake shop on Inglewhite Road, said residents are becoming 'fed up' with the ongoing issues and says there is little hope that it will ever be resolved.

She said: "This just feels like it is never-ending. Nobody has any faith in it actually being resolved because the council have been back here so many times over the condition of the roads and it seems there is just blame being passed between the council and United Utilities.

United Utilities are now repairing a sunken sewage pipe

"I remember when the sinkhole first opened up before lockdown and a car almost fell down it and it just seems as though there haven't been any proper works done to actually fix the issue.

"This is the worst it has been, none of us locally had any information about it which doesn't help or make you feel safe where you live. Everyone is just really fed up, a lot of people are struggling to get to the shops, and road users don't know where they are going because of the diversions.

"It has caused so much stress and anxiety for everyone locally and it has been tough to see the local businesses we all support not doing as well. It affects the whole of Longridge in one way or another."

Another resident, who lives on Whittingham Road, spoke to the Post anonymously. He said: "It has not been a good month for residents or motorists here. The traffic this is causing on an evening has been ridiculous.

"The diversion in place is the most sensible, however, it should highlight the issues Longridge has with traffic flow, road layouts and transport infrastructure. Not to mention the new build situation.

"We had similar issues last year with the COVID cycle lanes. Thank goodness this is happening when it's the Summer Holidays, it could be so much worse and it's already bad."

Jill Cooper, who also lives on Whittingham Road added: "I live off the wrong side off Whittingham Lane and am fed up. The tailbacks and traffic jams while following the diversion are just impossible, and there could be something done to improve matters.

"No work has been done on the sinkhole since last week and there's been no explanation about what's happening. There are rumours about buried streams, floods and watercourses which is very disquieting, but no one is telling us anything."

Harvey Danson, area highways manager for Lancashire County Council said: "We're sorry for the inconvenience due to the closure on Inglewhite Road, however this is needed for safety due to a sewer collapse.

"We're working closely with United Utilities and the road will be reopened as soon as they have repaired the sewer. I'd like to thank people for their patience and understanding in the meantime."

A United Utilities spokesperson said: “We’re really sorry about how inconvenient our work is in Inglewhite Road. We need to urgently repair a collapsed sewer pipe.

"The good news is that engineers got underway today and expect to be able to re-open the road by the end of next week. The location of the pipe in the middle of the road and five metres underground, meant our work needed specialist planning and equipment.

"And a temporary road closure is the only way of doing it safely. But we’ll be doing everything we can to get things back to normal quickly, including some work this weekend. We hope people will bear with us.”

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