Road ripped apart in scenes ‘like an earthquake’ as taxpayers faces bill in the millions

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Subsidence on the B4069 near the village of Lyneham in Wiltshire left huge cracks along the route. An emergency road closure was in place on February 17 but police said some drivers were ignoring it.

Locals claim the movement of earth under the road has been getting worse over the past year and that a landslip was inevitable.

An investigation into the cause is underway and Wiltshire Council says it is awaiting a report from specialists.

Dr Mark McClelland, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for transport, told BBC Radio Wiltshire: “It could cost hundreds of thousands or up into the millions [to fix].

“There is significant damage to the road. It could be up to 12 months in total. It’s not something that can be resolved in a matter of days or weeks.”

He added that people’s description of it looking like an earthquake or the San Andreas Fault were “accurate” with the road buckled three to four feet in places.

Dr McClelland said the local authority would wait until it had the report before deciding what to do next. He asked drivers to obey the signs in place.

He told BBC Radio Wiltshire: “The underlying ground has slipped and we need to understand why that has happened.

“This road has been subject to remedial works in the past and it has been a difficult road to deal with, but we’ve never seen anything like this before.

“The police have been very clear that it’s very dangerous for motorists to ignore signage.”

Landlord of the Peterborough Arms pub, Brendan Watkins, claimed the closure is impacting trade.

He told the BBC: “It’s been quite bad. We lost about 50 percent of our restaurant bookings this weekend.

“It’s a big job but it needs to be done as quickly as possible because local businesses are suffering.”

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Jay Collings, director of B4069 based car body workshop 3Sixty Bodyworx, claimed the road has been an issue for years.

He said: “I’m surprised it’s not been shut earlier. All they’ve been doing is patching it up and not addressing the problem.

“I think they should put a weight limit in or put money into it and do it correctly. They need to invest in the safety of the road.”

Becky, co-owner of Pillars Antiques in Lyneham, said that since the road closed there has been no passing trade.

She added: “We’re fortunate because we’re starting to slow down a little bit. Ten or 15 years ago it would have totally finished us. It would be great if the council stepped in to support us.”

The businesswoman said the road is still moving, adding: “It’s going to take them a long time to fix. If the M4 is ever closed they usually divert them past here. It will affect everybody. Everybody will find it difficult.”

Royal Wootton Bassett and Cricklade Police said in a statement on social media: “Wiltshire Council Highways team have placed numerous signs advising of the closure, put a diversion route in place and are keeping people informed through the media.

“Unfortunately some drivers are ignoring the closure at the bottom of the hill and driving up The Banks.

“This could put the council workers who are working on the road in danger. As you can see from the photos the road is not passable at all.”

Wiltshire Council has been approached for comment.

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