Benches positioned on a controversial shared-use path in Newham have ruffled feathers among business owners and councillors.  

Items of pavement furniture have appeared on the opposite side of the road to Tilewise and Mark Watkins Haulage.  

The incident is just the latest in a lengthy debate over the work on the busy industrial estate, which has seen local businesses resort to legal action against an unwanted narrowing of the road, as proposed by the council to improve cycling access to the Newham Trail.  

Tilewise manager Janet posted an image on Facebook of the bench opposite the shop. She told The Voice: “This scheme has cost us thousands of pounds in business. They have narrowed the road to widen the pavement, then stuck a bloody bench on it. 

“It’s not even funny. The pavement hasn’t even been surfaced where they’ve put the second one, so they’re going to have to work around it.  

“They have also put a 20mph speed limit in place, and had speed cameras out on people leaving work, without consultation.  

“The council isn’t listening – that’s the biggest problem. They are a law unto themselves, and while we are open until Christmas, and between Christmas and New Year, they are all on holiday.”  

Leigh Ibbotson, chairman of Newham BID and director of Cher Varya Group, which rents out commercial and residential properties, said: “This is rubbing our noses in it, really.  

“Why have they spent millions narrowing the road, which none of the businesses on the estate wanted, only to then narrow the pavement with these benches? It completely defeats the object.  

“I know the road battle is old news, but I don’t get it. They certainly haven’t consulted the BID, or any of the businesses the benches have been placed outside.” 

Sarah Wetherill, of Truro Cycling Campaign, discovered the benches after cycling past them. 

“I didn’t know they were going to be there, and my first thought was that it wasn’t the best place for it,” she said. “To be fair, I don’t know exactly how wide the pavement is at that point. But putting an obstacle there will result in narrowing the path, and if someone is sitting on it, we will have to give them a wide berth.” 

Cllr Rob Nolan, whose Redannick and Boscawen ward includes Newham shared a post on Facebook about the benches, saying: “In all the long discussions I’ve had with Cornwall Council, they never once mentioned they would be putting any benches on the pavement. Of the four people I’ve emailed at the council, three are out of office until January 2.” 

He told the Voice: “Businesses are both angry, and laughing. They have been through all this, and the council hasn’t listened to them, apart from making a small compromise following the threat of legal action. Now, having broadened the pavement, it has plonked these benches on it.  

“They are very nice benches indeed, and I’d be interested to know how much they cost. Lovely as the Newham businesses are, I’m not sure who would want to look at them when they could have had a river view.  

“Most of all, this is about communication. The council hasn’t told anyone it’s going on.  Instead, it has blown up on Facebook, and people are saying all sorts of things about the council. It makes us look inept at best, and casual with public money.” 

He described the Newham Road scheme as “flawed,” adding that the cash would have been better spent installing barriers where the Newham cycle trail meets Lighterage Hill. 

“We have already had three accidents with people riding straight out onto the road. I’m all for cycling, but we have a duty to deliver these things safely.”