Opinion: 'Some businesses may not survive Sidmouth roadworks'


The works have seen roads in Sidmouth close to traffic - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

While the council (Devon County) may have picked the best time to block off half of the town with roadworks, the Specials song 'Ghost Town' is starting to reverberate around Sidmouth’s very empty streets.

It's a little bit like life. Roadworks are very difficult to avoid and a decision to have them carried out while the town is quiet, with not much happening, seems like the ideal opportunity, but the consensus of opinion seems to be that they are causing a catastrophic dive in business at what is generally considered to be the quietest time of the year anyway. 

I'm sure there’s someone at the council reading this saying, 'see, whatever we do we can’t win'.

The fact that the works are going on for three months is for many businesses not something they wish to think about and could be the nail in the coffin for many.

With drains to replace along with new surfaces, the town will look fabulous when its finished, all ready for its bustling tourist season. But be mindful this is based on the assumption that the works are finished on time, which is often dependent on the bonus they receive for doing so.

The question seems to be the fact that the traffic has been routed around the outskirts of the town, down to the seafront, and no one is coming into the town to the shops. 

I have been told by countless shop owners that the town is, to coin a phrase, 'dead' and many are concerned for the longevity of their business given the last two years of torture that they have been through.

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To put things into perspective, we have roadworks going on outside our Bowness on Windermere store and to be honest, I now understand why many businesses in the area shut during January.

However, it hasn’t stopped people coming into the village, especially at the weekends, but traffic re-routing sends everyone through the village, albeit very slowly. 

I am aware it’s a different location and different demographic, but it is an example of the difference in how things are done. 

Reducing the coffers in the council’s car park fund and routing traffic around the outside of the town may prove one step too far for some.