Traders bid for roadworks compensation

BUSINESSES hit by a loss of trade as customers turn their backs on a traffic-gridlocked town are considering legal action in a bid for compensation.

Dave Gooderham

BUSINESSES hit by a loss of trade as customers turn their backs on a traffic-gridlocked town are considering legal action in a bid for compensation.

Tens of thousands of pounds have been lost to the local economy in Sudbury after roadworks in the Station Road area brought motorists to a standstill.

Paul Reeley, store manager at Waitrose, said: “The roadworks have caused a major problem for motorists and the store.

“When they started, there was an announcement that Station Road was closing till August and many customers assumed this meant the store was also going to be closed. We had a deluge of calls from customers asking why.

“It was disappointing that this had put a lot of customers off as we have a large catchment area and I think people didn't want to risk it. I think our biggest issue has been one of perception but the whole town has been hit.”

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The problems began three weeks ago when Anglian Water officials were forced to start fixing a 30metre stretch of a damaged waste water pipe on the corner of Station Road and Great Eastern Road.

“It has definitely affected our trade but I cannot comment on how much money we might have lost,” Mr Reeley said.

“I can confirm that Waitrose legal department is in discussions with Anglian Water.

“Thankfully, things have improved over the last week. These are essential roadworks and I understand these things have to be done, but it has come at a very bad time. The work has been done very quickly and if it could be over by next week, it would be great.”

Paul Tatum, owner of neighbouring Fleetway garage, said: “It has been a nightmare for us. We are still getting our regular customers but the passing trade has just been killed off.

“For example, we normally do about 40 tyres a week, but we have done just four in the last two weeks. We estimate we are losing about £1,000 a week.

“I have no grudge against Anglian Water as this work has to be done but traffic in this town is bad enough normally. Now it has been turned into gridlock.”

Paul Dennis, store manager at Roys department store said it had caused some disruption, but other businesses in the area, like the Kingfisher swimming pool, said there had been no impact from the roadworks.

Kerry O'Brien, spokesman for Anglian Water, said: “We were forced to carry out the roadworks due to a damaged waste water pipe covering at least 30 metres.

“We had planned for eight weeks of work but the work is due to be completed within the next 10 days, after just four weeks. We didn't want to inconvenience anyone but we pleased the work has gone so well. We would say that if any businesses feel they have lost money as a result of the work, they should write to Anglian Water and we will look at their finances to see if compensation is appropriate.”

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