FURIOUS business owners says their companies are being put at risk because of the dangerous state of their access road.

The businesses operate from the Darent industrial estate in Slade Green, which can only be accessed through one road across Crayford marshes.

Although the estate is run as a business co-operative by the 65 freeholders based there, they do not own the access road.

That is owned by Russell Stoneham Estate, which owns large tracts of Crayford marshes.

The access road now called Ray Lamb Way, was created to stop large lorries from using Slade Green’s residential roads to access the estate.

A new section of road was built in the 19xxs from the existing Manor Way and joins up with remaining part of the former Wallhouse Road, to form the new access.

Bob Whincap, 57, managing director of Rotor Scaffolding, is one of the freeholders on the industrial estate.

He claims the freeholders have been repairing the road themselves over the past 20 years.

Mr Whincap said: “The bad weather earlier this year has now made the road surface so bad, we cannot afford to repair it anymore.

“Some of the holes are more than eight inches deep.”

Mr Whincap added: “Bexley Council has been fully aware of the problems associated with this issue for many years.

“Yet, despite this, it has allowed the owner of the road to ignore its statutory duty to maintain the road in a safe condition.”

Mr Whincap, whose company employs 25 people says the road now poses a serious risk to drivers using it.

He said: “Bexley still gives planning permission to companies using heavy lorries to set up on the estate, knowing the state of the road.

He added: “There are lots of bigger companies than us on the estate and it is becoming more and more difficult to get our lorries in and out.”

Despite being the only access road for two industrial estates, Bexley Council says Ray Lamb Way is only classified as a byway and not a proper road.

A council spokeswoman said: “As the highway authority, the council is only required to maintain the route to byway standards and is not obliged to maintain the road for the heavy traffic that now uses the route.”

She added: ”The council has recently raised matters with Russell Stoneham Estate, the owners of the land, about maintenance to the road and some temporary repairs have been carried out to the larger holes.”

Colin Stoneham of Russell Stoneham Estate said: "Although we own the freehold, the upkeep of the road is Bexley Council's responsibility.

"The road is a byway and was never designed to take large articulated lorries, yet the council gave planning permission for the industrial estate in the 1970s and now expects us to maintain the road.

"I agree the road is in an horrendous state and will cost at least 3100,000 to repair.

"But the council has a very weak case on this."