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Collapsed road leaves Rossendale village residents stranded
RESIDENTS have been left cut off after the only road into their village collapsed dramatically in bad weather.
Fifty houses in the Rossendale hamlet of Strongstry have been isolated from the rest of East Lancashire after a deep hole appeared in Stubbins Vale Road.
The road is impassable and residents have been told that repairs could keep it closed for at least 14 days.
The gaping hole is 10ft wide and eight feet deep.
Residents spoke of difficulties in going about their daily business, and the fear of emergency services being unable to reach them.
Some people have been forced to walk long distances to main roads before being able to make their way to work, school or the shops.
Seventy-one-year-old Tony Gale suffers from osteoarthritis and since the road was blocked on Saturday he has been unable to leave the village, which has no amenities.
Mr Gale said: “It is incredibly frustrating, I can’t really walk about at all and usually rely on my car to get around, but having moved that I can’t get to it now so I’m basically housebound.
“My wife is able to go out and get anything we need but it is not easy. If we have a few bags of shopping then she has to make several trips to the car, which is a long walk away. It is a nightmare.”
Many residents have been able to get their cars out of the village along a narrow track and across a weak bridge after the owner opened up private land. It now means most villagers face a half-mile walk to their cars everytime they want to leave.
Mr Gale said: “Since it happened it has been like a ghost town, the cars have all gone and it is really, really quiet. I normally go out a few times a week but now I’m just stuck here.
“I’ve got an appointment at the hospital in Rochdale in about two weeks so I have no idea how I am going to get to that if we are still in the same situation.
“It has been a nightmare summer really, we have had two floods in the village that have damaged the house and ruined the furniture. I suffered a minor stroke in June because of the stress, and now we have this.”
Another village resident, Vicki Coleman, said: “It has been horrendous since it happened. I have a six-year-old that I have to get ready and get out to school every morning and it makes it a lot harder.
“We also have no shopping at the moment and it is difficult to get any in and bring it back as we are having to park a long way from the house.
“Another big concern is how would the emergency services get here? I don’t think they could, I’m not even sure we should be living here like this.
“Our bins aren’t being emptied either as nothing can get into the village. We’ve been told it is probably going to be three weeks before the bins are emptied.”
The bridge used to ferry some cars out of the village has visible cracks.
It goes over the fast flowing River Irwell, and it is not considered suitable for use on a regular basis.
Lesley Mather, 35, who lives in the village with her two-year-old daughter Olivia, said: “It is one of those things. It is nobody’s fault and there is nothing that can be done about it, but it certainly isn’t ideal.
“I’ve been really ill for a few days so the biggest problem I’ve had is that there is no food in, so with a two-year-old to look after I have to get out somehow and get some shopping in.”
Nurse Maureen Kirkwood said: “It is like a ghost town at the moment, it is a crazy situation.
“You have to walk a bit of a way to get out wherever you have left your car, and for those who work late is can be a pretty scary walk in the dark.
“I know two other nurses who live in the village who have finished late shifts in recent days, and they are having to call their husbands to come and meet them because it is so dark, there are no lights so you can’t see anything and it is very remote walking in to the village.”
Coun Darryl Smith, who was born and raised in the nearby village of Chatterton, said: “It is not an ideal situation for residents and they have had a difficult time with it.
“Both Rossendale Council and Lancashire County Council are trying to keep the communication going and to keep residents informed of what is going on.
“From speaking to the engineers it is hoped that access could be restored in around two weeks, but that is depending on the weather.
“The county council have responded very quickly to the incident and they are doing all they can to restore access as soon as possible.”
A Lancashire County Council spokesman said: “The residents have been told that we are aiming to restore some sort of access by October 3, but that is weather permitting.
“The plan is to put a large concrete pipe in the hole to replace the collapsed culvert. We will put people on the job for all the hours needed to get it done as quickly as possible, as it is a top priority for us at the moment.”