Ipswich: Restaurant owner fears compensation over lost business may come too late

A TOWN centre trader today claimed the compensation offered for business lost during major gas works, may not stop him from going under.

Amir Uddin, director of a Passage to India, said his restaurant has already lost �30,000 since work was started by National Grid five months ago to replace 100-year-old gas mains in Fore Street, Orwell Place, Eagle Street and Upper Orwell Street.

But despite assurances from National Grid bosses that businesses affected by the work should be in line for compensation, Mr Uddin still has a bleak outlook for his restaurant’s future.

He said: “If they (National Grid) can sort all this out before December then we have a little bit of a prospect, but if it’s past that, then I am gone.

“There is no movement on this street. Before it was lovely but now it’s a ghost street.”

A meeting is due to take place this morning between traders and councillors as solutions are sought to help the struggling businesses.

MP for Ipswich, Ben Gummer, said up until now he has been appalled at the lack of help traders have had, and added: “National Grid has taken far longer than it should have taken to complete this work.”

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A spokesman for the borough council admitted councillors are ‘not happy’ with the how long the work is taking. He added: “We are working to agree deferred payment plans with those businesses badly affected by the National Grid work and we are not requiring them to pay their business rates now. We do not set business rates – we collect them on behalf of the government.

“And when it comes to compensation, we believe it is National Grid which should be paying for that – and quickly – not the council taxpayers of Ipswich.”

National Grid says it has been talking with affected traders and they will be in line for compensation.

A spokeswoman said: “We have been keeping the traders’ informed of the compensation scheme and they have all been given compensation packs and forms to complete.

“Once we have got those in we can start looking at them. They are dealt with on a case by case basis.”

n Have you been affected by the works? Send an e-mail to starletters@archant.co.uk