ROADWORKS ARE 'KILLING' OUR TOWNBy Victoria Corbett
March 08, 2006
Pubs and shops in the road say their takings have already been cut since the work to replace 1,800 metres of old water mains started last Monday. They say the situation will get worse as other sections of the road are closed.
Jeanette Warr, managing director of The Warr Physiotherapy Clinic in Finchampstead Road, said the business was losing £150 a day as people have been missing appointments due to the road closure.
She said: “People are not wanting to come back because they do not want to put up with the traffic.
“Staff have also been coming in very late, so it has not been a good first week.
“I do not know what we can do, I think the whole town is suffering. It’s okay for big businesses like Tesco as other branches can support them, but we are a small business.”
And Gordon Stevens, landlord at The Two Poplars pub in Finchampstead Road, said his takings had dropped six per cent in one week.
He said: “It’s definitely quieter since the road closed. Obviously I have got a lot of good customers here and they will fight to get here.
“I’m just horrified about when the closure comes outside my pub. I’m not looking forward to it.”
The first phase of the work includes the closure of the road between Molly Millars Lane and Langdon Court roundabout and the second phase, due to begin on Monday, March 20, will see the closure of a longer stretch of the road between Molly Millars Lane and Evendons Lane.
Graham Herbert, deputy manager at Pets at Home in Finchampstead Road, said: “It has affected sales extremely badly. It is a problem already.
“If customers think it’s going to be hard to get here they won’t come.
“Some people have been bulk buying. I had one lady come in and buy 90 kilos of dog food instead of her usual 15 kilos.
“Our customer count is through the floor and I think Tesco is suffering worse. It is bad news all round.”
Mr Herbert said the company was considering asking for compensation but added it would be difficult to get enough money to cover the lost income during the 16-week closure.
A spokeswoman for Tesco in Finchampstead Road said: “At times the work to the water main is causing delays for our staff and customers but we know that this will lead to long-term benefits in the local area.”
Businesses in Wokingham town centre are also reporting a dip in customers.
Mike Holmes, manager at Wokingham Photographic in Denmark Street, said: “It’s impossible to say at this stage how much our trade has gone down.
“We have noticed the number of minutes in the day we have got to do other things simply because we are not having any customers.
“You only have to walk up to the town centre to see there are fewer people coming into the town.
“It is a worry that it’s going to go on for 16 weeks, once the closure extends passed Molly Millars Lane under the bridge who knows what will happen.
“If they want to kill Wokingham this is one way to do it.”
Cllr Anthony Pollock, executive member for highways and transport, said: “We made high level representations to the water company, but South East Water was not prepared to postpone the work until the summer holidays and the council does not have the power to force them to do so.”