A399 roadworks closure will put tourists off, claims Combe Martin business
TEN-week-long roadworks being carried out this summer will deter tourists from coming to the area, local businesses say.
The A399 closure at Watermouth Cove will begin on June 3 for ten weeks, while works are carried out to realign the highway and make improvements to the South West Coast Path.
A footpath will be created along the northern edge of the road to ensure a safe route for pedestrians.
This means the southern embankment needs to be cut back and stabilised.
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During the ten weeks the works are being done the road will be subject to a 30mph speed limit with lane closure controlled by traffic lights.
It will be completely closed for three weeks between the hours of 7pm and 7am.
The issue was raised at Combe Martin's full council meeting on Monday night, where a number of people expressed concern that tourists will be put off coming to the area during what is one of the busiest times of the year.
Gary Mallinder, owner of Surfside in the village, questioned why the work could not be done during the winter.
He added even though part of the closure will take place over night, traffic still comes into the area after 7pm.
He said: "Has anyone explained we are a little hamlet and we have three or four months to make our money to survive for the next 12 months? OK we need the coast path fixing but at what cost? You cannot say you will stop tourism for ten weeks.
"We cannot afford anything to impede this year's summer time. We rely so much on people coming into this area."
But county councillor Andrea Davis insisted the works were essential.
She said: "This is all about getting more people here. I believe the one thing we need to sort out is to drive up the economy. I have been fighting for this for eight years. The path is really dangerous. I would not take my children along there. I am delighted we have been able to get the money."
The scheme will be costing £265,000 and will provide a safer route for walkers on the Watermouth Cove section of the South West Coast Path.
The path is currently impassable at high tide meaning pedestrians are forced to divert on to the A399 which is considered dangerous as the road is so busy.
At the time of going to press Devon County Council had not come back to the Journal with a comment regarding the closure.