Hart of the Matter
You could tell it was getting close to the official opening of the refurbished Queen Street when the last bit of Lordscroft Lane finally started getting resurfaced this week.
This bone-shaker has been in a horrendous state for months due to all the work going on around it, but finally it has presumably been established that no more lorries than the usual everyday quantity will now be using that bit of road and it is worth giving it a new top surface.
I never cease to be amazed by the number of lorries on our roads, both nationally and locally. Sometimes major routes seem to be no more than a procession of huge artics.
In Haverhill it is not just the number, but the constant need to use the centre of town. I suppose they all start by coming off the bypass somewhere and then following their satnavs devotedly into the most inappropriate places.
The commonest corner they get stuck in is Mill Road, outside Wetherspoons and there they wiggle around like a hippo in a tutu from Fantasia, until some kind soul takes pity on them and tries to guide them out again.
More recently one has begun to encounter them holding up traffic going in and out of the arts centre car park, as they try to deliver to Iceland.
But keen observers of heavy goods vehicles in their natural habitat have begun to turn their attention to the Tesco delivery service road. This affords excellent opportunities for spotting, because it is becoming a gathering ground and roosting place combined.
Like geese they fly in late at night, only to find the service road gate is shut, and there they wait for dawn to start going about their noisy business.
Because Tesco had a condition placed on the site by planners that there should be no deliveries during the night – I think it’s 10pm to 6am, but I may be wrong – the gate is shut, and the store pretty much unmanned, unlike Sainsbury’s where they work through the night and receive regular deliveries.
However, this doesn’t seem to stop the deliveries arriving and piling up outside. One imagines this might get worse with time, because Tesco have made no secret of the fact they want to be able to receive deliveries during the night. In fact they have recently applied to change the planning condition, a move which has, unsurprisingly, drawn objections.
So far, fortunately, lorries seem to be arriving along the main roads happily enough, but it can’t be long before one of them is misled, as visiting motorists are, by the inexplicable sign on the bypass at Camps Road roundabout, which says ‘Superstore’ and points down Camps Road.
This is just about the worst place from which to approach the new store and certainly not the right way to direct anyone unfortunate enough to start from there.
People naively follow this sign and find themselves lost in the unfathomable recesses of the one-way system, probably ending up rammed up against the backside of one of the hippos outside Wetherspoons, and thinking: “Where did I go wrong?”
Tesco then becomes a bit like the honey in the tree which Winnie-the-Pooh attempted to reach by balloon. He could see the honey... (you can’t fail to see the Tesco sign)... but he couldn’t quite reach the honey.
I am very glad to hear that representatives of various agencies in Haverhill had a meeting in the town centre the other week to come up with ideas about how they could make it more ‘friendly’ to visitors.
Not being a great fan of ‘abroad’, I often find myself in small English towns on holiday and some traffic systems can drive you berserk. I imagine Haverhill could be one of those to people who don’t know it, so any improvement on that must be a great benefit.
Of course, it is looking a lot better now, once you can get into it, get parked (still quite cheaply) and have a look around. Queen Street is ready for the grand unveiling, and while triskaidekaphobiacs may be hiding under the blankets, most of us will surely take advantage of the arrival of an Italian Market to coincide with the event on Friday 13th.
I fear that those meeting in the town centre last week were quite right, though, in their belief that the full pedestrianisation of at least part of High Street is the only long-term solution – enforced by clear signage.