BUSINESSES in Wisbech High Street have blasted gas works claiming the resulting road closure has hit trade.
Many of the shops claim profits are down by as much as 40 per cent over the past five weeks and claim the drop is down to the road closure imposed while National Grid carried out essential work to replace the gas mains.
Marylyn Bolton-Coker, who runs book shop Fully Booked, is adamant there was a fall in the number of people walking past her premises and the fact the road looked blocked off for pedestrians as well as cars was to blame.
She accepts the work was necessary but like her neighbouring entrepreneurs she is questioning why the road had to be closed for six weeks when it appears the work could easily have been completed in the half the time.
“It would not be so bad if there had been people out there working all the time. But there have been days go by when there has been no work done at all. The workers have turned up for a few hours a day, doing a bit and going away again.
“I contacted National Grid who said they had to deal with emergencies as a priority, but I question that. I’m sure they must have an emergency call out team to deal with those type of incidents. If the workers had come and spent a whole day working the project could easily have been completed in half the time,” she said.
In fact the work was completed a week ahead of schedule - but Mrs Bolton-Coker claims the early completion was down to businesses complaining.
“It is funny how as soon as we started really complaining the workmen turned up and got on with the job. They managed to get more done on Friday than they had the rest of the week and it was finished,” she said.
Grocery store owner Irfan Arslan also claims a 30 per cent drop in trade and is equally angry at the apparent lack of commitment to get the work done as quickly as possible.
Mr Arslan, who runs Wisbech International Food and Wine, is so fed-up he is considering legal action to try to gain compensation for the loss in business, something Mrs Bolton-Coker is also planning to do.
He said work to replace the mains pipework was completed quickly but after that there was no real determination to get the pathway reinstated.
Nearby Pizza Crazy is also suffered and owner Gyudzhan Dzheudet said: “I think business is less by 30 or 40 per cent. I have still got my bills to pay and this is hard when people are not coming into buy food.”
Pet shop owner Steve Morgan said business definitely dropped by as much as 30 per cent and he said fewer people were coming down the road because it looked closed and there was no sign telling people businesses were open as usual.
“It is diabolical, I have been here for 18 months and this is the worst it has been. And the most annoying thing is that the work could easily have been completed in half the time if they had just got on with it. But they were turning up late, staying for only a few hours and then going away and sometimes they didn’t return for a few days. It was ridiculous,” he said.
A spokesman for National Grid said: “This is essential work to secure Wisbech’s gas supply and will be completed a week ahead of schedule. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused”.