County councillor says road infrastructure must be looked at - but one Barnstaple man saw an upsurge in business as his ‘Home of the Traffic Jam’ sticker was revived.
Frustrated commuters were left scratching their heads after Barnstaple came to a complete standstill on Friday afternoon.
With no accidents reported, and the Easter holidays still a week away, it is thought that minor repairs to a manhole cover in Sticklepath caused reported cross-town tailbacks of up to three hours.
County councillor Frank Biederman said he was ‘shocked’ at the hold-ups.
He said: “Barriers were put around it [the manhole] two weeks ago; when they finally got around to doing it, they choose one of the busiest commuter times, and on one of our most traffic-sensitive roads.”
But one man saw the positive side when saw an upsurge in sales of the ‘Barnstaple, Home of the Traffic Jam’ sticker he created when he was just 13.
James Chapple, 31, from Roundswell, shared a post on Facebook about his sticker, which he first created in 2001 and revived two years ago, and said he sold several off the back of it.
“The idea was always to make people smile when they’re stuck in traffic and see the sticker on the car in front of them,” he said.
Councillor Biederman said he had many complaints from people on Friday and over the weekend.
He said: “I had residents missing appointments, very late to pick children up for school. It all could of been avoided if work like this, was done in the evening.
“I have written to our highways department on the matter – what would’ve happened had there been a blue light emergency on Friday?”
Mr Biederman said the issue also prompted fresh concerns about what would happen when more houses are built around the town.
“We simply do not have the road infrastructure to cope with it and we have got thousands more to come yet,” he said.
“We have got to get smarter on when we carry out roadworks; it affects so many businesses that need our support to carry on about their business in an efficient way.”
A Devon County Council spokesman said the ‘emergency’ repairs to replace the ‘dangerous’ manhole cover were carried out by BT with two-way traffic lights.
He said: “It’s unfortunate that this was carried out at a sensitive time, but BT is a statutory undertaker and can legally carry out works immediately.
“As they deemed it an emergency it would have been to prevent a safety issue for highway users.”