Town brought to a halt after gas leak

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ROADS in Brackley were brought to a near standstill and a supermarket was evacuated yesterday as a huge gas leak caused the closure of the A43 dual carriageway in both directions.

Just before 9.45am a gas main on the corner of the A43 and A422 was damaged, causing what is being described as a significant escape of gas.

A 600-metre exclusion zone was put in place resulting in the evacuation of the Tesco Superstore.

Initial reports claiming the leak was caused by a car or lorry crash proved to be incorrect.

Nobody was injured but motorists’ tempers frayed as traffic was directed away from the A43 and through the town.

And town councillor Caryl Billingham played her part by stepping away from monitoring voters at the Women’s Institute Hall in the local elections and into the breach to direct traffic in Manor Road.

Northants Police said the Town Hall polling station was outside the exclusion zone, but warned voters to allow extra time in order to get to polling booths.

A spokesman for the Southern Gas Network said their engineers had been on site carrying out repairs.

She added: “Because it is damage to one of our medium pressure mains we had to close the road for safety.”

By-stander Danny James from Beech Drive said he was concerned about an explosion and added: “I was waiting for my grandfather.

“He’s stuck on the A43 at the Evenley turn and doesn’t know other routes into Brackley.

“My mother sent me up here to look out for him, but you can smell the gas.”

He added: “The roads are horrendous. Cars are piling up all the way from the BP garage and down High Street and they are sending everyone down the Banbury Road.”

The A43 opened yesterday evening and the exclusion zone lifted.

> Were you caught up in the traffic chaos or forced to evacuate the exclusion zones. Tell us your story by calling 01280 827975 or via gavin.moore@jpress.co.uk