Sidbury gas works hit businesses’ sales by up to ‘90 per cent’

Businesses in Sidbury have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket by a road closure in the village.

One trader said he has had to fork out £9,000 of his own cash to keep his ‘devastated’ company going.

The ongoing work being undertaken by Wales and West Utilities in Fore Street has seen the highway, between the junctions with Bridge Street and Cotford Road, closed since April 4.

The £75,000 project is to upgrade 400 metres of gas pipes.

Sacs Cars, Drews of Sidbury and the Red Lion Inn say they have all suffered drops in trade.

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Steven Cole, of Sacs Cars, said he has been forced to use £9,000 of his own money to keep his business going as sales, for the last month, were down by more than 90 per cent.

Mr Cole said: “It has just devastated my business. It is unbelievable – I never thought it would affect me as much as it has. All the signs are very confusing. I don’t think they needed to shut down the road. For me, it has been very hard to survive this.”

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He added that people had been misreading the signs - and that one 92-year-old lady ended up going on a 22-mile detour by mistake.

“I have had to shovel my own cash into my business to keep it going,” said Mr Cole. “People have just given up on trying to get to me.”

Tom Barrington, owner of the Red Lion Inn, said his sales were down by 50 - 60 per cent. He added that only one side of the road had been affected, so could not understand why the other was not kept open. Mr Barrington thought the work should have been done quicker. “I knew I was going to take a hit, but not this much,” he added. “It has all been a bit of a faff, although the blokes doing the gas were very good.”

Robbie Drew, who runs Drews of Sidbury, said he was more than 50 per cent down on sales. However, he understood the work has to be done and had expected the closure to affect his business. Mr Drew said the gas workers had done a ‘brilliant job’.

“It has to be done – they were going to do it before Christmas, which would have affected Christmas trade.

“It is better this time of year, when it isn’t as busy,” said Mr Drew. He said Wales and West reopened the road over the bank holiday, even though it did not have to.

“We cannot knock them – they let us out and in when they can,” said Mr Drew. He had become more frustrated with drivers using the road when they should not have and interrupting the works by ignoring the signs.

Wales and West Utilities’ Roger Lock said it was important to close Fore Street to ensure workers could carry out the upgrade safely, protecting residents and its staff.

He added that any traders who felt their business has been adversely affected by the work could claim compensation

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