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Trader says roadworks have cost him £30,000 and put livelihood at risk

PUBLISHED: 08:42 22 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:42 26 February 2020

Doug Smith, director of Flooring and Blinds Express in Heigham Street, where business has been badly affected by the roadworks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Doug Smith, director of Flooring and Blinds Express in Heigham Street, where business has been badly affected by the roadworks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

A business owner has said city road works have caused him to lose more than £30,000 in takings and put his livelihood in jeopardy.

Doug Smith, director of Flooring and Blinds Express in Heigham Street, where business has been badly affected by the roadworks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDoug Smith, director of Flooring and Blinds Express in Heigham Street, where business has been badly affected by the roadworks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But Norfolk County Council, which is carrying out the roadworks, has refused a request for compensation as the authority says it can only cover physical damage to a business not financial loss.

Doug Smith and his family have run Flooring and Blinds Express in Heigham Street, in Norwich, since 2017.

But Mr Smith said since work to install two new pedestrian crossings in the street began in January, customers have found it difficult to get to the store and as a result the shop has seen a 55pc fall in revenue.

Mr Smith said: "We have got no passing traffic at all which is what we rely on to a certain extent. You can get here but we have had comments from people who have said 'if we didn't know you were here we wouldn't have bothered'."

Doug Smith, director of Flooring and Blinds Express in Heigham Street, where business has been badly affected by the roadworks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDoug Smith, director of Flooring and Blinds Express in Heigham Street, where business has been badly affected by the roadworks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Earlier this month, Mr Smith wrote to Norfolk County Council to ask for compensation for loss of earnings but, in a reply, was told: "The authority cannot be held liable for a nuisance which is a duty imposed on it by statute.

"In this case the loss you have sustained is a mere economic loss this is not recoverable... Pure economic loss is a financial loss suffered by a claimant and that is unconnected with and does not flow from any physical damage to his property or person."

Mr Smith said the company was £30,000 to £45,000 down on what it would usually take for January and February.

Flooring and Blinds Express in Heigham Street where business has been badly affected by the roadworks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFlooring and Blinds Express in Heigham Street where business has been badly affected by the roadworks. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

"It's putting my livelihood in jeopardy - we are on the breadline, I might have to go to a bank and ask to loan some money," he said. "It's an awful lot of stress.

"It just seems to much for the sake of four pedestrian crossings. I appreciate it's a safety thing but it seems ludicrous nine weeks down the line."

A spokesperson for Transport for Norwich said: "The Heigham Street scheme will provide much needed safety improvements including the construction of two new pedestrian crossings. The scheme has strong local support but we appreciate there will be some disruption as the work is carried out.

"We have maintained access to homes and businesses throughout the scheme and installed signs to remind drivers that businesses are open as usual."

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