Car damage costing £4000 after St Albans roadworks

Is this diversion sign confusing?

Is this diversion sign confusing? - Credit: Archant

‘Nonsense’ diversion signs have been blamed for causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to cars parked on a St Albans side street.

Scratches to a car on Sopwell Lane.

Scratches to a car on Sopwell Lane. - Credit: Archant

While Affinity Water carried out work to replace 60-year-old pipes around Sopwell Lane and Watsons Walk parking spaces were lost, roads were closed, and diversion routes signposted.

But residents argue because of the unclear signs and road blocks on only one side, confused motorists were still driving through, and then had to turn around or reverse.

This was even more difficult than usual because the roads were narrower - parking was prohibited during the works and displaced cars packed what available spaces were left - leading to many vehicles being damaged.

Sopwell Lane resident Harvey Forsythe, 50, found £300 damage had been caused to his car. A neighbour discovered worse, with £4,000 worth of scratches along the length of their vehicle, and another neighbour’s brick wall was damaged.

Harvey said: “To be honest we don’t really know who did it but something big came down the road. There are some terrible roads which have to be fixed but the way it was handled, the way the road was closed off, was pretty poor.”

On one Friday at midnight Harvey was shocked to see a big lorry trying to reverse out of the road after becoming caught in the works.

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He described it as “chaos” and a “free for all” where everybody was “doing whatever they wanted”.

St Albans district councillor, Chris White, said: “Diversion signs made no sense, they were nonsense and drivers wouldn’t know what to do. People were fed up with the situation but the problem has been compounded by the damage.”

He added: “It’s also frustrating - where do you park in the area when the car parking spaces you are paying for have gone?”

An Affinity Water spokesperson said they were sorry for any inconvenience: “We worked closely with the local authorities to put a road closure with diversions in place to ensure the safety of commuters and our contractors carrying out the improvement works.

“Advance warning signs advising motorists of the road closure and the diversion were in place on the junction of Keyfield Crescent, Sopwell Lane and repeated on the junction of Holywell Hill, Sopwell Lane.”

The roadworks on Sopwell Lane have now finished.