Traders’ takings hit by Sidmouth roadworks

Temple Street road closure. Ref shs 03-16AW 1234. Picture: Alex Walton

Temple Street road closure. Ref shs 03-16AW 1234. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

The closure of one of Sidmouth’s main artery roads has halved the takings in some shops because customers have ‘given up’ trying to reach the town, say concerned traders.

Roadworks in Temple Street are set to continue until the end of the month, but businesses say they are unable to claim compensation for lost earnings.

The scheme coincides with drainage works on Trow Hill, which is being managed by convoy until next Friday (February 12) – further frustrating drivers trying to reach the town.

Sidmouth Pets owner James McLean said: “People don’t seem to be coming into the town. The first week wasn’t so bad, but now people aren’t coming in – they’ve given up on Sidmouth.”

He said workers on the project had avoided disruption where they could, but on some days nothing seemed to be going on after midday.

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There are currently several trenches in Temple Street and Mr McLean said some drivers had been manoeuvring between them, despite the closure signs.

John Rayson, who owns Sidmouth Stationery and Travel Goods, said: “It’s devastating – my takings are down almost 60 per cent.

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“I only open in the mornings because it’s a waste of time opening in the afternoon.”

Oxfam manager Andrew Pinney said the shop’s takings had been cut in half and the impact would have been even worse if it was not already set to close on March 18 due to a lack of trade in the area (see story on page five).

“If they’d cracked on with the roadworks, they probably could have got them done in 10 days,” he added. “It’s put a lot of people off coming to Sidmouth. Shops can’t claim compensation for a loss of business – the view is it’s your own fault for a siting your shop on a road where roadworks can take place.”

Businesses can make a claim from utility companies if they conduct roadworks, but this is not the case if a highways authority undertakes the project.

The replacement of pipes and gullies in Temple Street is taking place at the same time as Devon County Council’s resurfacing works to minimise disruption.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon’s highways chief, said: “The timing of the work was agreed with the chamber of commerce as January and February is a quiet time of year for business and it’s important to ensure work is complete before Easter.

“Signs are in place on Temple Street saying ‘businesses open as usual’ as a reminder to shoppers. The closure will be in place until February 29 and work is currently on schedule.”

Steven Kendall-Torry, who owns Pure Indulgence in the town centre, said: “The only upside is I would rather lose 50 per cent of my takings in January than 50 per cent in June.”

Temple Street closed on January 18 and is not set to reopen until February 29.

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