Published: February 14, 2009
MP backs Highbridge traders over 'unacceptable' roadworks disruption

Highbridge's MP visited angry traders in the town on Saturday (February 14th) to see for himself the disruption being caused to their trade by major roadworks.

As first reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com, businesses along Church Street say their trade has been badly hit by the three months of work to replace gas mains along the busy route.

David Heathcoat-Amory visited the town centre on Saturday afternoon, where long queues of traffic had once again built up either side of the temporary traffic lights.

He met traders, as pictured here, and told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "It is unacceptable that the businesses were not informed of this work in advance."

"The roadworks seem to be going ahead with no consideration for local trade."

"Highbridge needs all the help it can get and I will be taking this up with the county council's highways department as a matter of urgency."

"We will also see whether business rate relief can be requested for the period of the work, and there's also a case for compensation for the businesses. I fully sympathize with them."

Burnham-On-Sea.com was first to predict the disruption last month, when it emerged that the roadwork would involve the A38 being partially closed until the end of April.

"There already fears that the project is running behind schedule and that the end date could have to be extended," said Russell Chedzoy of Bay Tree Upholstery at Saturday's meeting.

He added: "People are just not coming into Highbridge due to all the disruption and queues. The town is becoming a no-go zone and risks becoming a 'ghost town'."

He is planning to proceed with a protest against the work by lying across the road if the workmen come near his shop.

"It's disgraceful that this work is going ahead without anyone coming to talk to traders or discuss how we will be compensated," he added.

And Anthony Brooks of Skidmarx added: "It's getting to the point where several businesses are questioning whether it's worth opening at the moment because it's so quiet."

"Saturdays are usually our busiest day of the week, but people are just not coming in their previous numbers since the roadworks began."

Somerset County Council Highways spokeswoman Jan Hookings told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "These are essential works being carried out by the gas board."

"We cannot stop the work from happening. We have consulted with the gas board to make sure they do the work at the best time of the year to cause the least disruption, principally to avoid the holiday period, carnival and lead-up to Christmas."

 




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