Silent night, holey night - Christmas underpass work offends

RESIDENTS have slammed planned festive period work on Royston’s rail underpass as “ridiculous” with one saying his Christmas is “up the Swannee”.

Works will start at just after midnight on Christmas Day and continue through to 10.30pm on Boxing day as this is the only time when trains are not running.

The �3.8million underpass, will run underneath the railway line at Burns Road and will make the two sides of the town more accessible on foot.

The railway line will be excavated and the structure will be lifted into position and back filled, with the track relaid.

People at both sides of the tunnel are not pleased at the timing of the work and several Hardy Drive residents, whose properties back on to the building site, have moved their Christmas Day celebrations to relatives’ homes.

“We feel it’s going to have too big an impact with all the noise,” said Paul Jeray, who lives with his wife and child.

“Luckily we have got family locally.”

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But a neighbour was more scathing.

She said: “It’s ridiculous if you have small children.

“Hopefully the noise won’t wake them up. I’ve got one who is six and one who is eight months old.”

An 80-year-old woman said the work on the underpass had been causing her grief since it began, claiming that when drilling started the furniture in her house began vibrating.

She has written to North Herts District Council’s environmental health officer pleading for help.

She said: “It’s not fair for anyone who lives nearby. We have got to have the underpass, but not to the detriment of anyone living close by.”

It is not just people who live near the work who say their lives have been adversely affected.

David Miller and his 34-week pregnant wife Sonia live in Heron Way with their son Harry, three, and have a long running complaint over noise from a generator used to power the nearby site office.

They say the generator is left on at night to power heaters which dry workmen’s clothes, and police officer Mr Miller, 33, says it has been causing him and his wife sleepless nights.

He said: “I have got to work on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, and on Christmas Day I finish at 3am.

“My Christmas Day is going to be completely shot. My boy’s going to be up early and it’s going to cause anguish because my wife is pregnant.

“All I can say is I hope it is sorted, or it will completely ruin Christmas this year, and I am back at work after Boxing Day – it’s completely up the Swannee.”

He has been in contact with Royston’s MP Oliver Heald and says North Hertfordshire District Council is involved in trying to stop the generator running at night.

Hertfordshire County Council sympathised with residents but said the festive period was the only time when work could be carried out.

Stuart Pile, cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “We appreciate the work over Christmas will be inconvenient and disruptive for residents who live nearby.

“However, it is the only time when the railway line will be closed, allowing the contractors (Birse Rail) the access they need to install the subway.

“Along with Birse Rail, we have provided regular updates to residents about the work and have been working with residents to make them aware of the Christmas work and to ease the impact on them.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank residents for their continued patience as this project, which will bring a much-needed and safe pedestrian route to the town, nears completion.”

A district council spokesman said: “We delivered a letter to Birse Rail on Tuesday giving them seven days to take appropriate action to reduce the noise at nighttime from their generator.

“If they do not comply, NHDC will actively consider the serving of a noise abatement notice.”