Town traders left fuming by gas works disruption


Sarah Staples

TRADERS in Ellesmere have lost custom and footfall since the town centre roadworks started this month.
Work to replace 200 metres of gas pipes as part of a £100,000 investment programme by Wales and West Utilities (WWU) will affect Cross Street, Market Street and Scotland Street until the expected finish date of February 2.
Company bosses said the schedule of work was planned to limit disruption, meaning it is “business as usual” for local traders.
But Jim Griffiths, owner of Hawkins Butchers in Cross Street, said he has seen a 20 per cent drop in footfall since the roadworks began.
He said: “I’ve had less custom and less footfall but it’s just one of those things. With the machinery they are using it would be impossible to have the men working and cars coming through at the same time.

“Ellesmere has always been a stop and shop town, and these days if people can’t park 10 foot from your shop they will go to Tesco instead.
“People just don’t want to walk past while the men are working,” he added.
Angie Roberts, owner of Jelly Bean in Cross Street, said the road works are affecting her business and must be having an effect on others.
She said: “I’m sure traders are making a loss somewhere because of it. It is making it hard for pedestrians to get through the town easily. One day the workers had blocked the pavement so people had to walk around the work and onto the road.
“Footfall is less, but it is hard to say whether that is because of the time of year.”
She added that in some places WWU workers were not leaving enough room on the pavement for shoppers with pushchairs, adding: “It is harder for people who are wanting to come to the town.”
But Lincoln McMullan, chairman of the Ellesmere Chamber of Commerce and owner of Ellesmere shop The Signtists, said the roadworks have not affected his business in Scotland Street.
He said: “I believe some traders on Cross Street were quiet in the first week of the roadworks but once people work out their way around it is ok.
“The traffic seems to be flowing well and people can just park in the main car park in the town and walk over to do their shopping.
“It is essential work that has to be done and hopefully it can be done quickly,” he added.
Peter Hughes, WWU project manager, said: “We know that working in busy towns is disruptive for local people and visitors and we have done our best to plan a gas mains replacement scheme for Ellesmere that will limit this inconvenience as much as possible.
“In planning this scheme we have liaised with Shropshire Council’s highways department and will continue to work closely with them as the scheme progresses,” he added.

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