What should have been a small roadwork delay by United Utilities turned out to be a West Lancashire excursion for motorists as a 12 mile traffic diversion was set up in Blackpool.
The water company had to do emergency sewer work repairs on Preston New Road in Mereside by the Toby Carvery pub however a diversion was set up that took motorists on a countryside trip down Mythop Road around Weeton, Singleton and Hardhorn added at least 25 minutes onto their journeys on Wednesday.
The Gazette was also sent around the houses as confusion from United Utilities, Blackpool Council and the Highways Agency led to them being unable to confirm who had set up the diversion.
A spokesman for United Utilities later admitted: “We’re sorry about the disruption our temporary work on Preston New Road had.
“We received reports from the Council of a defect in the road and on inspection, discovered some work was required on our pipes running under the carriageway.
“For a short period we had to close the road and divert traffic.
“The repair work is now complete, the road refilled, tarmacked and back open.”Gazette reader Brian Morrison, 48, couldn’t believe what a calamity the diversion was.
The local business owner who lives in Mereside said he was on his way to the hospital to visit a friend when he was diverted.
He added: “I then returned to the location on leaving hospital to speak with workmen but nobody to be seen.
“I decided to start telling car drivers about the diversion which included many holiday makers with caravans and even ambulances trying to get to hospital.
“I could have easily removed the sign to open up the road, as there was no reason for the full road closure, with only one lane with small tarmac laid which was size of a Mini.”
Blackpool Council said the roadworks were for United Utilities and that they were scheduled for completition on Wednesday evening.
A spokesman later added: “The diversion that was in place from Preston New Road down Mythop Road was definitely United Utilities rather than Blackpool Council.
“Our only involvement was to put barriers around the hole outside the pub.”
A Highways Agency spokesman said: “The diversion was not arranged by ourselves as we do not oversee the A583 (Preston New Road).”