DOZENS of town traders are locked in a compensation battle with a utility company over claims a controversial road closure cost them thousands of pounds. A significant amount of business owners feel they are owed cash after major gas pipe work shut Vicarage Road for more than a month in the run-up to Christmas, the chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce revealed. Collectively the money adds up to a significant sum, said Richard Eley. Some shopkeepers told the Herald their sales dropped by up to 50per cent when Wales and West Utilities carried out a £150,000 bid to replace gas mains in November. An independent loss adjuster has been appointed to investigate, says the firm. Compensation has been paid to some affected, but more claims are in the pipeline, said Mr Eley. The chamber of commerce is concerned at conflicting messages coming from the company and is anxious that businesses obtain compensation to which they are obviously entitled. One thing is certain, the works had a clearly negative impact upon the level of business enjoyed by Sidmouth town centre- there is no question about that whatsoever. Wales and West had suggested businesses in the town centre, not directly opposite the works, werent entitled to claim compensation. This is not the case and Ive been assured that if a loss was genuinely incurred an appropriate claim can be made. These problems follow on from the appalling lack of consultation regarding the timing of works, for which the company has already apologised. Businesses need to be reminded that claims for compensation arising from the works need to be submitted sooner rather than later. A Wales and West Utilities (WWU) spokeswoman said robust procedures were in place to respond to requests for compensation. She added: WWU has appointed a loss adjuster to work independently of the company to administer compensation applications. Unfortunately we are unable comment on individual cases.