TRAFFIC lights causing chaos on Benfleet High Road were left up for almost 24 hours longer than promised after three weeks of traffic chaos.

The temporary traffic lights near South Benfleet Primary School were due to be removed on the night of Thursday, November 11.

UK Power Networks (UKPN), which has been undertaking the “essential works”, had promised Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris they would be removed that night.

However, when Cllr Andrew Sheldon arrive at the scene, he was alarmed to find the workmen had been instructed to move the lights to another lane, and not removed.

UKPN now says the lights were required for safety reasons as the works were finished on Friday afternoon.

“The MP Rebecca Harris and I spent a long time on the phone to them and after that meeting Essex Highways were assured that the traffic lights would be taken away on Thursday evening and there would be free flow,” said Cllr Andrew Sheldon.

“I went there last night at 10.30pm to speak to the guy who was leading it. And he told me he was only there to move them to the other side of the road. I then spent an hour on the phone again to UKPN’s head office who said nothing could be done about it until the morning.”

He added: “It has been an utter nightmare. I do not like being misled by large companies that should have far more care for public than they do. At the end of the day, the public are their customers as much as they are my residents and they have shown them a complete disregard and I’m utterly furious.”

The temporary lights were first installed three weeks ago as UKPN dug up the pavement to reach cables following power issues at South Benfleet Primary School.

The firm had been granted an emergency permit for the work, but by the end of the week had discovered a larger issue with the cabling.

UKPN informed the council it would need specialist workers and equipment to be drafted in. The pavement was left ripped up for two weeks, necessitating a pedestrian walkway through the road and temporary traffic lights, causing traffic chaos across the town.

A spokesperson for UK Power Networks said: “We are sorry for any inconvenience caused by our essential works in High Road, Benfleet. This was to repair an underground cable fault for which teams needed specialist electrical equipment.

“We required temporary traffic lights for safety reasons today to complete the last of the reinstatement work on the opposite footway. This is now finished and the traffic management has been removed from site this afternoon.

“We have been in close contact with the council today to keep them better informed about any future works and are continuing to monitor the network.”