A BUSINESS owner has called for better planning of Darlington's roadworks after it took him 25 minutes to drive less than three miles this week.

Graham Robb, who is a partner in public relations company Recognition, has accused Darlington Borough Council of poor planning and disconnected decisionmaking in traffic management.

Mr Robb said that travelling from the company's premises at Lingfield Point to a town centre bank on Monday took him longer than a typical car journey to Middlesbrough, because of road repairs on Yarm Road.

He is also unhappy about the closure of Crown Street car park, which he says has resulted in a greater shortage of town centre parking.

"Minor road works are to be found on almost every major road - sceptics might think it is the end of the financial year and there is money to be used up. Add the closure of the NCP car park in Crown Street, the long term sewer replacement work on the inner ring road and the result is traffic chaos."

He said that Darlington was getting a reputation as a driver's nightmare, which was having a knock-on effect on businesses.

"We pay our staff to be in work, not gridlocked," he said.

A spokesman for Darlington Borough Council said that short term delays were necessary to improve the road network in the long term.

"The Yarm Road and Neasham road works are to improve the facilities for cyclists and buses and to improve the junction's traffic flow.

"We do apologise but the short term inconvenience is for the benefit of all who use the roads in Darlington."

He said that the Crown Street car park was privately owned but the council is currently in negotiations to open East Street car park's top level to provide additional town centre spaces while work is being carried out.

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