Funeral corteges getting lost after new one-way system designed to help social distancing forces detour via dual carriageway

·3-min read
high street.  Local residents have reported their cars being dented and scratched as motorists try to weave their way through back roads.
high street. Local residents have reported their cars being dented and scratched as motorists try to weave their way through back roads.
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

A one way system introduced to encourage social distancing in a Hertfordshire town has resulted in mourners missing funeral receptions after getting lost among back streets or being forced onto a dual carriageway.

What was once a short trip from the cemetery in Ware to the town’s church and high street has become a “circuitous route” on residential roads or on the busy A10 after Hertfordshire County Council introduced a one way system on the high street. 

Local residents have reported their cars being dented and scratched as motorists try to weave their way through back roads.

Reverend Ysmena Pentelow of Ware’s St Mary’s church said a recent funeral saw mourners, many of whom were from outside of the county, struggle to navigate their way from the cemetery in the north of the town to Ware Priory, a Grade I listed venue used for weddings and funeral receptions, for an after service drinks.

“The new one way system has created a really complicated route from the cemetery to the high street where receptions are held,” she said. “Some families had trouble getting from the cemetery to the reception.

“The way the traffic restrictions have been put in place is having an impact on the local community. Sat navs may not know about the road closures, which can add to the confusion.”

Move has led to chaos

Alexander Curtis, the mayor of Ware, said the town’s new one way system intended to allow more room for pedestrians on pavements had led to “chaos”.

“As far as I’m concerned the council is anti-car,” he said. “We’ve written to the county council asking for this one way system to be removed. I, like many other locals, fear there are plans to make the system permanent by stealth.

“I know of at least one funeral where they couldn’t get from the cemetery back to the town centre for a reception. There have been reports of cars being dented and scratched in nearby streets as motorists try to find alternative routes.”

A spokesman for the National Association of Funeral Directors urged councils to consider the impact one way systems and road closures can have on the local community. 

“Funerals can be times of great stress and mourners do not want to go unnecessarily out of their way or be stuck in a one-way system while on their way to or from a service, especially if it involves detours around unfamiliar roads and people getting lost," he said.  

A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire County Council said the one way system was introduced to allow more space for pedestrians to social distance.

She added: “We have been reviewing the measures rolled out in Ware, taking account of the comments and feedback that we have received from local residents and businesses. We are currently finalising some proposed changes that we aim to roll out as soon as possible.”