RESIDENTS have slammed “disastrous” Hampshire County Council roadworks which they say have turned verges into swamps and worsened parking problems.
Homeowners in Kings Road, Ashley, have hit out at attempts to solve difficulties caused by motorists parking on the verges while visiting nearby Ashley Junior School and New Milton Rugby Club.
They claimed they were not consulted by HCC, which went against residents’ preference of installing kerbs, similar to nearby Oak Road.
The authority instead extended the existing grass verges on Kings Road and installed a new drain. HCC said kerbing would be expensive and change the character of the road.
But residents James and Amanda White say the verge extension has been an “absolute disaster” with the job taking five weeks instead of the scheduled one, and the removal of a contractor.
Topsoil was dumped on the existing verges without grass seed, they said, and this week’s heavy rain has already eroded sections, turning the surface into “quagmire swamps”.
Motorists have resumed parking on the verges and have spread soil over the road, leaving a risk of potholes developing on Kings Road – which HCC only relaid around two years ago.
Mr White, a company director and ex-Masterchef finalist, told the A&T: “The whole thing is just a disaster.
“I dread to think how much money has been used on what is about 100 metres’ worth of verge.”
Mrs White said the Kings Road Whatsapp group had been “filled with anger” over the works, although she said some were trying to see the funny side.
“One neighbour put a sign up saying, ‘Gone fishing’ because of the surface water on the verge,” she said.
“Last year they re-laid the entire road surface of Kings Road. Couldn’t they have installed kerbs then when they had the chance and it would have been cheaper to do it all in one go?
“It’s mad. They haven’t even compacted the soil, they’ve simply dumped it on top of the verges and with the rain it has become a swampy mess.”
She added: “But the big thing is the safety aspect. By extending the verges HCC have narrowed the road, which is already difficult to get down because of the way the cars park on the verges.
“There’s no way an ambulance would be able to get through in an emergency, or a fire engine and the bin men will struggle. How is that safe?”
The A&T submitted a series of questions to HCC, including how much the project cost – which HCC did not answer.
Cllr Rob Humby, HCC cabinet member for economy, transport and environment, defended not installing kerbing.
He said “When the road was resurfaced a couple of years ago it was decided not to install kerbs, partly to avoid changing the character of the road, and partly as funds are limited for such improvements.
“Grass verges were reinstated to their original widths to ensure the highway surface water drains properly to prevent standing water, which is dangerous if it freezes in cold weather.
“Parking on verges is a problem across Hampshire’s highways network, especially around schools. However, installing kerbs does not stop this.
Cllr Humby added: “We are working closely with both Ashley Primary School and Ashley Junior School to inform and educate pupils and parents about safe, responsible parking outside the schools.
“The infant school has a parking arrangement with Ashley Baptist Church where parents can park and walk children to school so as to alleviate the on-street parking and improve safety.
“Kings Road has not historically been kerbed.”