Lost layby 'threat to business' in St Mary's Junction changes

A NEWPORT businessman has slammed plans to convert a layby into a green space and widened footway, fearing the impact it will have on his salvage company. The Isle of Wight Council, however, says the measures are to improve safety and argues the layby was never intended to be for a business’s exclusive use. Eric Matthews, of Riverway Salvage, Newport, has been running his business for more than 40 years.

But with Island Roads planning to make changes to a nearby layby as part of the St Mary’s improvement scheme, he says his business is now under threat. Riverway Salvage relies on the layby for a number of services it provides, so its vehicles can pull in and out, and so ten-and-a-half-ton trucks for Hampshire Freight can manoeuvre. Riverway provides pre-MOTs, recovery of motor vehicles, and taking and picking up vehicles from crash sites around the clock.

Eric has been told he must park elsewhere or in the road- to unload — a decision which he says spells danger for both his business and the public. “It means I’ve got to park near a corner, and I know it’s going to be by traffic lights,” said Eric. “We’ll be blocking up half the road — it’s unsafe.

“When the buses come round the corner, they take up most of the road — you don’t want to be parked near a corner. “I’m pulling my hair out, it’s ridiculous. As soon as they do this work, there’ll be nowhere for our customers or our trucks to park.

“I’ll have to reverse seven metres worth of truck into my driveway without the layby. “We’ve been operating for 43 years, and we’ve been using this layby for 43 years. “Dustcarts, Tesco vans — even the ice cream man uses it.”

Island Roads says a new cul-de-sac formed on the route of the old road will include a layby, providing a safer, alternative and expanded replacement parking facility for local residents. Eric argues the new layby will be too far away for his business to load and unload, and says it will be in constant use by the hospital and those visiting the hospital. A spokesperson for the Isle of Wight Council said: “The new route will improve access to St Mary’s Hospital and is supported with signal controlled crossings at Hunnyhill, Forest Road and Medina Way.

“The layby has always been for parking by the public and has never been intended for exclusive use by any resident or loading/unloading commercial vehicles. “Where residents are unable to park on their property, they will need to find a space on street where parking is not restricted as they do currently.”

The Council said: “The scheme does not amend or modify the existing access to the property from which Riverway Salvage operates or the parking controls at that frontage — rather will move the junction further away, reducing the instances when queuing will extend from the junction, potentially obstructing the access.

“Mr Matthews has been in frequent communications regarding this work.

“His need for access is well understood and informed the design of the scheme, although it is neither possible nor appropriate to provide an exclusive parking space for the use of his business on the public highway.”

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