A group of Traders have met with their councillors to raise concerns about the disastrous effect of EDF’s programme of road works on their trade. The roadworks on the Taunton road/Broadway A38/39 junction have been extensive causing tailbacks for the past two months, creating rat runs through one way streets and increasing stress amongst road users. Now the effect of the traffic chaos is hitting traders.
Ben the Barber from St Mary street, whose shop is right next to the EDF works depot, said “We are losing trade because the roadworks are effectively closing off the entrances to the town and people are chosing not to bother coming into town and to go to Taunton instead. We have been treated very badly in all this and we don’t think anybody cares about us. We’ve not been adequately consulted , there’s been no communication or single point of information and basically someone is taking liberties with our livelihoods If this was for 2 weeks maybe we could cope but for a year it’s intolerable .”
Current roadworks are a ‘Second Hand Solution’
Lee Passmore of Biddiscombes Furniture store on St Mary street said “Along with many of my neighbours,we feel like we have been ignored and treated with contempt by both EDF and SCC. The current ‘road improvement’ scheme being implemented shows the leaders at County Hall in their true colours – Bridgwater and it’s residents are second class in their eyes.The current roadworks are a second rate solution to the Hinkley Point freight transport issue. There will be long term damaging effects on our already struggling town.”
Mr Passmore added “My business has been trading on this site since 1906, and we have all known tough times, but with sales figures already 50% lower than the same time last year, how much longer we will be here I cannot say.”
Martyn Acland of North street said “This comes hot on the tails of the North street/Penel Orlieu works. We are losing long standing customers from the North Petherton area because they are choosing not to bother coming into town due to the roadworks and are going to Taunton instead. Our business is some 25% down on this time last year.”
Tracey Bargery from West Country Meats of West street said “First we had the Penel Orlieu works, then Wessex Water in Durleigh road and now this! The roadworks themselves are causing road rage, accidents and heightened stress levels “
Tim Grimes of Tim’s Cameras in the High street, said “In January sales were picking up but then in February, when the roadworks kicked in, turnover was down by 25%. This effect is being felt right across the town centre.”
Important to ‘hold EDF to account for this chaos’
When questions were raised as to why the works compound-which in effect was just a toilet and a canteen , was located on St Mary Street itself, and which blocked off the southbound carriageway and not for instance in Morrison’s car park ,it became clear that the reason was likely to be because this was ‘the free option’, a reason that pleased traders even less.
Cllr Leigh Redman said “ Bridgwater Town Council has consistently objected to the EDF junction proposals-which we knew would be extensive and would clearly cause the problems that were now happening. We also understand that in fact the highway gains would be minimal after the works anyway. Town Council has called 2 meetings, first with EDF and then with EDF and SCC, to challenge the works after which we called for alternative solutions but neither SCC nor EDF accepted this. Through negotiations the situation had been mitigated somewhat by night workings and rather than a year the works were actually likely to be completed by August.”
Cllr Kathy Pearce said “It is important to hold EDF to account for this chaos. Councillors and Councils have tried but now that traders were coming together it would build up the momentum and we can make a stronger case.”
Cllr Brian Smedley said “The Traders need a face to face meeting with EDF people in attendance to give answers directly. We need to identify compensation options. If there’s mitigation funds available then this is clearly the sort of thing that needs to be mitigated against. This could be through the CIM fund or any other EDF funds available and we we should also look at rate relief through the Valuation office”.
Somerset County Councillors John Osman and David Hall had been invited to the meeting but had instead sent a statement;- “We fully understand the impacts associated with the construction of these highways schemes but we cannot escape that these are necessary as a result of EDF Energy’s plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point.”