FRESH calls have been made for a long-awaited Halstead bypass following traffic chaos in the town centre.

Drivers were left furious last week when roadworks caused major delays.

The roadworks started on Head Street by St Andrew’s Church on August 30.

Work started at about 8am and the road didn’t re-open until 11pm.

During its closure, the town was subjected to traffic “havoc” when the main route through the town was blocked off.

Long traffic queues tailed back up Sudbury Road with drivers being forced to head down Mallows Field and Parsonage Street to navigate around the roadworks.

Essex Highways said the emergency repairs meant no advanced warning had been possible.

Halstead Town Council says it shows the need for a new bypass around the town.

A spokesman said: “The town council is concerned about the way in which the highways works were carried out over the weekend.

“It is appreciated that when something is urgent you have to close the road regardless of whether it is the junction of the A131/A1124.

“What happened at the weekend lends once again weight to the need for a bypass.

“When Head Street becomes impassable, there is no other route to be taken for large vehicles.

“Many of the side roads which might be used as an alternative are very narrow, unsuitable for large vehicles and blocked by parked cars.

“Cars were also accessing the one-way road in the wrong direction at Parsonage Street by the church.

“Cars were damaged trying to manoeuvre in the two-way traffic with parked cars in situ.

“If a road is to be closed, instruction on the closure must be more precise.

“As an example, cars and lorries coming from Braintree were met with ‘road closed’ signs.

“It would have helped if they had said ‘in Halstead’ as when you approached Foley Corner it looked as if you could not go either way and you could go via Gosfield.

“Public transport was also unable to run to Colchester. Lorries were attempting later in the week to turn round in unsuitable side roads because the signage had not all been taken down.

“Clearly there was an urgent electrical matter which needed attention, but the sudden and disorganised road closure caused havoc for the town.”

Residents and councillors have been campaigning for a bypass for decades.

Halstead councillor Jackie Pell said: “It really makes me cross when I see roadworks and there’s nobody working.

“Now I also hear they’re going to be closing Trinity Street on September 20 but there are signs up saying September 18.

“Highways are no longer fit for purpose. We desperately need this bypass.

“I have discussed the bypass in the past until I’m blue in the face. They don’t understand they there is nowhere else to go – there’s no other route.

“We know Sunday’s works were urgent but we need the bypass because where else do they think we’re going to go?

“I don’t think it’s going to happen. We’re always the poor relation.

“They are upgrading the A131 but they aren’t doing anything here.

“The two county councils have got to work together.

“We need better co-ordination because it’s not fair on motorists and is not fair on the people who live in places like Head Street.”

“But I can’t see it happening in my lifetime.”

Talks were being held between Suffolk, Essex, Sudbury and Halstead councils to find a new route for lorries around Halstead but it is understood they stalled when lockdown hit.