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'It feels like nothing is being done' - business owner criticises slow work to reopen Norwich road

PUBLISHED: 13:00 29 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:00 29 March 2019

Noa Noa owners say they're doing

Noa Noa owners say they're doing "anything" to try and attract footfall. Picture: Archant

Archant

A business owner in Norwich claims work has ground to a halt on a partly-closed city centre road, after cladding fell from a nearby tower.

Noa Noa owners say that people now only walk on the other side of the road due to the walkway opening further up the street. Picture: ArchantNoa Noa owners say that people now only walk on the other side of the road due to the walkway opening further up the street. Picture: Archant

Westlegate remains partially shut after a chunk of the cladding fell off Westlegate Tower on March 14, prompting safety barriers to be put up.

Since then, independent businesses on the street have spoken out about the “crippling” impact on their trade.

Harriet Amey, manager and co-owner of clothing shop Noa Noa, said: “We wouldn’t be breaking even if it wasn’t for the payout from our insurers.

Noa Noa in Westlegate. Picture: ArchantNoa Noa in Westlegate. Picture: Archant

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“We wouldn’t mind the closure if they were actually doing something, we understand it’s for the public’s safety – but there’s still a huge hole in the cladding nearly 18 days on.”

She also criticised the handling of the situation by Westlegate Tower managers Watsons.

“We asked for an ‘open as usual’ sign, and didn’t get it for a week after we asked,” she said. “Even then, there are only three ‘open for business’ signs and nearly 20 ‘danger’ signs.

“It doesn’t look like a safe place to walk, and we’ve had our more elderly customers tell us they’re avoiding coming down here because of it.”

But a spokesman for Watsons said: “The signage was installed on the same day as the covered walkway was opened.

“Due to the height, risk, health and safety requirements and engineering factors which have to be considered it is not possible to immediately encapsulate the area of cladding without detailed plans being drawn up with assessments having taken place and insurers/loss adjusters examining the material facts.

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“Watsons have liaised with the city council streetworks team and confirmed that a timescale for further works to be completed should be available next week, when further communications will be provided. Surrounding businesses can gain updates from them accordingly if they are not immediate customers of Watsons.”

“We’re just exasperated,” said Ms Amey. “It just seems like nothing is being done and no-one is pushing for it to be completed more quickly – and we have no idea when Westlegate will reopen.

“It’s hard not to think that if cladding had fallen off Debenhams, Red Lion Street would be reopened by now. It feels like because we’re smaller, independent businesses, they don’t care as much.”

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