Traders furious at town street works
TRADERS in Ipswich today vowed to seek compensation from organisations carrying out road repairs in the town centre.Street closures due to a gas mains replacement project have ignited angry responses from business owners who say their income is suffering as a result.
TRADERS in Ipswich today vowed to seek compensation from organisations carrying out road repairs in the town centre.
Street closures due to a gas mains replacement project have ignited angry responses from business owners who say their income is suffering as a result.
Upper Brook Street has been closed to traffic for the last four weeks while work is carried out by National Grid to swap cast iron gas mains with plastic pipes.
They are working with Ipswich Borough Council, whose engineers are installing block paving, new road surfacing and better lighting during the 16-week project, to minimise disruption.
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While pedestrians said they enjoyed the town centre without so much traffic, one trader expressed his outrage.
Richard Bryant, owner of Street Stylez in Tacket Street, claimed his takings on some days have plummeted by more than 90 per cent because the road works gave the impression his shop is closed.
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He said: “It has been diabolical. The whole pavement has been dug up so customers couldn't enter the shop.
“The workers on the road have been polite and I understand that the work is needed, but I feel there should be some sort of compensation.
“Myself and some other traders are going to form a co-operative to take legal action.”
The first phase of the gas mains replacement, which began in mid-May, is due to be completed on Monday before workers continue along Upper Brook Street next week.
Sara Wilcox, spokeswoman for National Grid, said letters had been sent to businesses explaining that a compensation package was available to those who met the criteria.
She added: “We apologise to traders for any inconvenience caused. The work is necessary in order to ensure the safety and reliability of the gas supplies for the future.”
A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: “We have worked with the businesses affected by the works in advance of starting on site and this dialogue continues.
“Access to all shops is maintained during opening hours. Additional signs will be placed to re-emphasise that businesses are open as usual.”
Peter Farthing, owner of Cash Converters in Tacket Street, said: “The real problem is the gas vans parked outside the front of the store. The road works make it difficult for people to get to the car park opposite and for our customers.
“I accept it is necessary and it is nice to see that more than one thing is being done at the same time, but 16 weeks seems a long time.”
Jodie Sheppard, 26, of Richmond Road, Ipswich, said: “It has been good for the main street because it isn't so crowded, but there are some irate drivers. The noise has been horrific.”
Reza Janbakhsh, 52, of Roxburgh Road, Ipswich, who works at Taygan Tiles in Tacket Street, said: “There is less traffic which is good, but as a business we are suffering because of the noise.
“We use phones a lot for our business and we can't hear very well and we have been getting less walk-in trade.”
Marnie Cable, 23, a student from Laurel Avenue, Kesgrave, said: “It is safer to cross the road in Upper Brook Street, especially for children, because you don't have to look for traffic.
“It is normally very crowded up there.”
Sarah Kheradmandi, of Cemetery Road, Ipswich, said: “As a pedestrian it is nice not to have big buses rumbling by along Upper Brook Street. That road is too narrow for big buses. At the moment it feels like a continuation of the pedestrianised zone.”
John Meadows, 58, of Corton Road, Ipswich, said: “I would like them to ignore the bus route up Upper Brook Street and pave the whole road. You don't need bus stops there - it just makes people lazy.
“The road works have highlighted what it could be like if it was pedestrianised. It is a big thoroughfare and you don't need traffic going up there.”