A ROAD closure in Malpas and subsequent 15-mile diversion has become a source of frustration for residents and councillors alike.

In January Wrexham Road was closed after part of the boundary wall at St Oswald's Church collapsed during heavy rain from Storm Christoph.

As the wall runs parallel to the road with no pavement, the road was effectively blocked, necessitating the closure.

The road itself is the only route directly west out of the village and towards Wrexham, meaning around a 15-mile diversion for those wishing to get to the other side.

Vice chairman of Malpas Parish council, Mike Boxall, explained the issue.

"The village has been effectively cut in half for the last three months, as traffic is unable to enter the village centre via Wrexham Road," said Mike.

"The official detour is some 15 miles and those with local knowledge or a sat-nav are using the narrow lanes through Oldcastle to find an alternative route.

"These roads are not suitable for the volume of traffic, or size of vehicles, now using them and there have already been a number of accidents and growing local anger at the inconsiderate behaviour of road users."

Mike says the village feels increasingly forgotten about by Cheshire West and Chester Council's perceived lack of activity on the issue.

"From the outset, the parish council has been frustrated by the poor communication from the borough council, whose Highways Department are responsible for repairing the damaged wall and reopening the roads,” he said.

"There was, initially, a high level of acceptance that the original collapse of the St Oswald's churchyard wall was an unfortunate accident, a consequence of Storm Christoph during January 19-20.

"Local residents were pleased to see that public safety was quickly addressed through the road closure and protective fencing in front of the unstable wall.

"However, the borough council has since infuriated residents by failing to explain its plans for repairing the wall and reopening Church Street, a major route through the village towards Wrexham.

"Parish Councillors have been lobbying hard for more information and a concrete plan of action which would allow residents to understand the reason why nothing appears to be happening on the site.

"It took until March 31 for the Borough Council to publish a statement explaining their plans, but this still had no clear timetable for the restoration works.

"There was also nothing about the informal detours through the lanes of Oldcastle.

"Suggestions from the parish council to introduce one-way operation of some of these lanes were eventually taken up, but even now, more than 12 weeks after the original incident, the signage is poor with no clear indication of the diversion route and, despite repeated requests for police enforcement action, many vehicles still ignore the one-way signs and are seen travelling the wrong way past no entry signs."

Much of the concern stems from the fact that the parish council are being blamed for the issues by some residents.

Mike added: "The Parish Council is wrongly seen by many to be responsible for the problems, whereas they are caught in the middle between understandably irate residents and the borough council and police service who appear indifferent to the problems of a village that is too far from headquarters.

"[The parish council] agreed to contact the police to once again stress the number of vehicles ignoring the one-way system signage and to continue to press the borough council for more details of the plan to restore the traffic flow on Church Street.

"All the signs are that this will not be possible until July – perhaps six months after the wall collapse – and that a final repair cannot be expected until 2022."

Cheshire West and Chester Council say works are underway to repair the wall.

The first stage is to carry out a temporary repair to make the wall safe and the second stage is to carry out the permanent repair of the wall.

The council’s head of regulatory services, Andrew Rees, explained.

He said: “The purpose of the temporary works is to support the wall and prevent any further damage to it.

“Investigative surveys are needed before any works can begin, including a radar survey to locate any hidden voids in the wall that could result in a further collapse. "It is also necessary to locate water, gas, electricity services, as well as nearby burials.

“A laser scan survey will also be carried out to allow the exact details of the walls to be measured and recorded.

"The information gathered will help ensure the stabilisation works can be carried out safely.

"We are expecting these specialist surveys to be completed by the end of April.

“We recognise the inconvenience the road closure is causing and are grateful for the support and patience of Malpas residents and visitors. "We will continue to progress these works as quickly as possible.”