CUSTOMERS of a new Wick supermarket look like having to wait another nine months before they can cross the road safely to get there on foot.
West Sussex County Council has confirmed that a light-controlled crossing on the A259, to reach the Morrisons store will not be ready to use until early May.
But the work could be further delayed if an ecological survey reveals the existence of reptiles on land needed for the crossing to the south of the A259. Even if none are found, it will still be 15 months after the supermarket opened by the time the crossing is ready.
The hold-up has prompted further criticism of the county council by Arun and town Labour councillor for Ham ward Mike Northeast, who first highlighted the issue three months ago.
He said this week: “The county council has known from the start what the procedure is for work like this, so they should have made arrangements for the wildlife survey to be carried out at the beginning, when Morrisons agreed to include the crossing in the section 106 agreement as a condition of planning permission, and not wait until now.
“I have asked the county council to try to get this fast-tracked. I would be very surprised if there was not an accident there in these summer holidays – the other night I saw a group of eight kids waiting to cross the road to where the gap has been provided in the Morrisons’ fence for pedestrians.
“Even now, they could put up signs warning drivers people cross the road there.”
A spokesman for the council said developers had been expected to install the crossing in time for the store opening, but unfortunately, planning documents stated that progress on the scheme would begin only on receipt of developer funding.
“Morrisons’ contribution of £234,000 was released to the county council only in early 2013, once they had occupied the site Since then councillors and officers have worked hard on the programme of activities that must be completed before a crossing can be built.”
The ecological survey is due to be carried out between mid-September and early October in cooler weather. Subject to the results, the vegetation could then be cleared in two weeks and then installation of the crossing could begin.
Traffic officers are due to assess the site this week to see if pedestrian warning signs are feasible.