A LEADING Conservative councillor has stood down as the party’s County Council candidate for Evesham South and claimed controversial roadworks will ‘cut Evesham in two for nearly six months’.
Coun Martin King made the claims about the controversial Port Street revamp plans in a letter announcing his decision not to fight the seat at the May 6 poll.
The works will include repaving the footways on Port Street, the reconfiguration of the area outside the former Talbot Pub and an update to the traffic signals at the Waterside/Port Street Junction.
While Coun King welcomed the benefits from the improvements, he said he was ‘astonished’ businesses had been given just a month’s notice of 22 weeks of serious road restrictions including seven weeks of Port Street being closed during the day.
“I appreciate improvement works will not be easy to carry out and there will be an impact on the whole of Evesham, but one might have hoped for prior communication about this with the affected businesses, local residents and the town in general,” he said.
“Unfortunately, this was not the situation – despite the impact on local residents in Bengeworth, the consequences for the businesses in Port Street, and issues about access to medical centres, De Montfort High School, etc.”
“Not even Wychavon’s chief executive or director of Economy and Environment knew the extent of the road closures, in advance, which will effectively cut Evesham in two for nearly six months,” Coun King said.
The Conservative district councillor said he feared the work could lead to the chaos seen during the Abbey Bridge debacle which saw road closures until March 2014 despite assurances the work would be finished by the previous Christmas.
“I hope I am not being cynical to be concerned despite the fact the County Council would have been aware of the impact this will have on the town, this information was provided just before the start of the County Council election campaign,” he said.
“I am concerned about the timing of these announcements by the Conservative-controlled County Council and this has led me to conclude I am no longer able to seek election as the Conservative Party’s candidate.”
A Mid Worcestershire Conservative Association spokesperson said: “We do not comment on internal matters. We have a new candidate in place and we are focused on engaging with residents and getting Coun Emma Stokes elected.”