Furious traders in the centre of Highbridge say three months of disruptive roadworks are hitting their trade, putting their future in jeopardy, and turning the shopping area into a ‘ghost town’.
They claim trade has been badly hit in recent weeks by the major roadworks, which have led to the partial closure of Church Street, causing endless queues of traffic.
Angry shop owners say their calls for compensation have been ignored and they are now planning protests to make their voice heard.
Burnham-On-Sea.com was first to predict the disruption last month, as gas mains are replaced between January 26th and the end of April.
Russell Chedzoy of Bay Tree Upholstery, pictured, told Burnham-On-Sea.com on Tuesday (February 10th): “Trade has been going down ever since the work started at the end of January.”
“People are just not coming into Highbridge due to the disruption and queues. Highbridge is becoming a no-go zone and risks becoming a ‘ghost town’.”
He also revealed that he is planning to protest against the work during the coming weeks. “If the roadworks come near my shop I intend to lie across the road and try to stop it going ahead.”
“It’s disgraceful that this work is going ahead without anyone coming to talk to traders or discuss how we will be compensated.”
And fellow Church Street businessman Dennis Moore, who runs a fish and chips shop, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Luckily I have a good base of local trade so my trade hasn’t been badly hit, but passing trade is definitely down.”
“I’ve been amazed this week that just three people have been working on the road at any one time, which is ridiculous given the disruption being created on a main trunk road.”
“If the gas board were keen to minimise the impact on shops and businesses, they would be working 24 hours a day with double the people and could finish the whole job in a month.”
Somerset County Council Highways spokeswoman Jan Hookings told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “This is essential works being carried out by the gas board – it’s gas mains replacement.”
“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.”
She also confirmed that further roadworks are planned for the centre of Highbridge over the coming year.
“The road is planned to be resurfaced next year. We are aware there is also a possibility that Western Power may want to go in and do work but do not know the timescale.”