My wife and I were travelling to Weymouth, Dorset via the A3 and M27, on September 10.

Although I knew that this route was approx. 10 minutes longer than the M3 route, as I was towing a caravan, I decided that it was better to have the opportunity to stop on the A3 if required.

Once on the M27, we saw signs stating that there was a closure from junctions 5 to 4 and that there would be 'long delays'.

Our journey was not specifically time sensitive so, although it was frustrating, we were prepared for an organised, well signposted diversion.

We actually queued on the M27 from round about junction 9 and were queuing for approximately 2 hours before being sent off at junction 5.

When we eventually got to the end of the off slip at Junction 5, we were presented with a virtually gridlocked roundabout. As we entered this roundabout, there was a 'DIVERTED TRAFFIC sign which pointed left along a dual carriageway.

We followed this sign until we saw a second sign and then a 3rd and so on. It soon became obvious, however, that these signs were not taking us in the right direction.

It took us round a torturous route on narrow, very busy roads where I had to negotiate bends and junctions, passing buses and H.G.V's with literally, inches to spare. I am a retired Police advanced driver but still found it extremely challenging.

Thousands of vehicles and drivers were in the same position, driving round in circles following erroneous directions. Some drivers had stopped at the side of the road and obviously just did not know what to do, others were out of their vehicles and asking other drivers if they knew where to go and both sides of the dual and single carriageways were full of nose to tail, crawling traffic.

Eventually, after a considerable time, the diversion signs brought me back to the original roundabout at the M27.

I again, followed the diversion signs, believing that I must have missed one and not knowing the area or having a map book, I really had no other option as there was nobody at the motorway closure point to advise me.

I tried to take another direction on the signposted diversion route but this did not get me any further and once again, the signs led me back to the closed M27 roundabout.

I noticed a Highways officers vehicle blocking the M27 on slip and had no option other than to abandon my car and caravan, as safely as possible to go and ask his advice.

Initially, he was more concerned with me stopping on the roundabout but then informed me that 'no diversions signs had been put out for this closure'. I was amazed by this and asked why. He told me that it was the responsibility of the construction management and that they didn't have the staff to do it. !

Having voiced my anger at this revelation, I asked how I was supposed to continue my journey west and he told me which route to take via Eastleigh to the M3.

I followed his directions but because of the total chaos and near gridlock caused by the diversion signs that, presumably, referred to another incident and not this motorway closure, the traffic on this route was also near stationary and it took a further hour to get to the M3.

I had joined the queue on the M27 at 1325 hrs., spoke to the Highways officer at 1615 hrs. and reached the M3 and 1715 hrs. During this time, I had wasted a 1/4 tank of petrol.

My journey from Brentwood, Essex to Weymouth should, with my caravan, have taken around 4 - 4 1/2 hours but because of this road closure and the incompetence of the people responsible for diversion signs, it took me (with a 45 minute break) approx 9 hours !

Roy Tyzack

Retired Met Police C.I.D. and Essex Police major Investigation officer