Concern over gas main disruption in Dereham
- Credit: Archant
Motorists in Dereham face six weeks of disruption in the town centre after National Grid announced it would be replacing gas mains in the Market Place.
But businesses have urged the public to continue to support the town after they raised concerns that the work could have a knock-on effect to traders.
The work is scheduled to start on Monday, February 17 and will involve road closures and diversions.
The utility company says the work is 'essential, to help keep the gas flowing to homes and businesses in the area for decades to come.'
The project will see the existing metal gas pipes, which have been in use for many years, replaced with modern hard-wearing plastic pipes that are designed to last for at least 80 years.
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It will involve one carriageway of the Market Place being closed as well as stopping through traffic along Wellington Road for the first four weeks and then closing the road between Swaffham Road and Wellington Road by the war memorial for a further two weeks.
Stephen Cross, chairman of Dereham Chamber of Trade, said it was vital to businesses that people continued to shop in the town centre.
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'Yes it is going to cause disruption but the last thing we want to do is put people off coming to Dereham,' he said. 'From a business point of view that would be a disaster.'
He also raised concerns about a proposed diversion taking traffic down Draytonhall Lane to the busy junction with the A47, more traffic and motorists using the Cherry Tree car park and Theatre Street as a rat run around Wellington Road.
'That junction onto the A47 is already dangerous enough,' he said. 'But I think the worst thing about the work is the closure of Wellington Road because I can see cars nipping through the car park to get round. If you want to go back to Scarning from the car park you can't without going all round the town. Once you are in the town centre you are snookered.'
Mr Cross, who also owns the Big Fry fish and chip shop, said he felt there should have been much more consultation before the work was scheduled, to reduce the disruption to a minimum.
'Businesses are concerned, not least for the fact that we will be without gas for at least a day,' he said. 'Big Fry uses gas to cook with so it will mean closing down for a day and no-one can afford to do that. I realise the work has to be done but I am still spitting feathers about it.'
A town council spokesman said the work should not affect the Tuesday and Friday markets.
He said: 'As with all the other traders in the town we are concerned that the disruption will deter people from coming into the town while the work is being carried out and would urge members of the public to continue to shop in the town and support the local shops while these essential works are being carried out.
'The town council is meeting with the contractors next week to see if there are any measures which can be put in place to mitigate some of the problems. But unfortunately due to the extent of the essential works, there will undoubtedly be considerable disruption around the town and we would urge people to look at the road closures carefully and consider for alternative means of travel while the work is being carried out.'
Vince Doggett, National Grid authorising engineer, apologised for any disruption but added that the work was essential to improve and safeguard local gas supplies.
'We'll be doing everything we can to minimise the inconvenience caused by this project, and we greatly appreciate the co-operation and patience of the local community and motorists,' he said.
If anyone has any queries If anyone has any queries about the work and how it will affect them they can contact customer services on 0800 096 5678.