Entrepreneur builds toll road to bypass road closed by landslip

Private toll road to bypass roadworks: weird British roads


Toll road

Mike Watts was frustrated by the fact that the Kelston Road in the West Country had been closed since a landslip in February. With the council saying that it could stay closed until the end of the year, the businessman decided to use it as a money-making opportunity - by opening an alternative toll road.

The Kelston Road was a useful alternative to the A4 between Bath and Bristol, and its closure has caused serious congestion on the A4. Watts, who runs a business in Bath, decided to solve the problem, and make some cash at the same time.

Watts told the Western Daily Press that he had laid out a 400 metre stretch of road made of rolled chipping through fields, taking people around the road closure. It will cost car drivers £2 each way, and motorcyclists £1. There will be a permanently-manned toll booth to collect the fees, and the newspaper estimated that it would require around 1,000 cars a day to break even.

However, the council warned that he didn't have planning permission for his road, and that it didn't have a health and safety assessment. The Mirror quoted a spokesperson who said: "We appreciate the difficulties that local residents have experienced since the emergency closure and work has started to deliver a permanent solution as quickly as possible, but will not encourage proposals that have not been proven to be safe or compliant with statutory requirements. The council has no details to confirm the toll road design meets safety standards and no evidence that insurances are in place for any member of the public who uses the private toll road."

Watts said he would be applying for retrospective planning permission, but ironically work has already started on repairing the main road, so that by the time the application is considered the road may no longer be required.

Weird road facts
It's a decent contender for the most peculiar road in the UK. However, there are plenty of oddities around. Here are five of our favourites.

1. There's one road in the UK where you have to drive on the right - it's Savoy Court in London's West End. The rule was originally introduced in 1902 so theatre-goers didn't have to cross the road to get into the theatre.

2. The shortest street in the UK is Ebenezer Place in Wick, Caithness. It's 2.06m long and the only thing on it is the front door of Mackays Hotel.

3. The biggest car park in the country is at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. It has space for 20,000 cars.

4. The first traffic lights in the world were installed outside the Houses of Parliament in 1868. Unfortunately they weren't entirely flawless, and exploded in 1869 inujring a policeman who was operating them.

5. The shortest double yellow lines are thought to be in Caxton Street in Westminster - between a taxi rank and some parking bays. The lines in question are nine inches long.

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