National Grid cannot allay fears about Yarmouth gas mains disruption

GREAT Yarmouth hoteliers and business owners faced with gas mains replacement disruption say their fears cannot be alleviated.

National Grid last month announced it is to upgrade 3.7km of outdated iron gas mains in 11 key streets in the town centre - with a year-long scheme starting next month.

This includes along the Golden Mile and busy Regent Road - the hub of the town's holiday trade, as well as historic South Quay which stages the popular Maritime Festival.

Bosses met Yarmouth business owners this evening in a bid to address concerns, stating they will endeavour to avoid disruption at tourist spots in summer, pedestrian access will be maintained and small businesses can claim compensation if affected.

But locals said they still have reservations after the meeting at the Priory Centre.

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Phillip Read, managing director of the Retroskate skating rink, on the seafront, said: 'Everyone's concerned by the downturn in trade and there isn't a good time for these guys to carry out mains work.

'We're so dependent on summer trade - it's our lifeline - and we just don't know what the effect of this work will be until it's happened.'

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Four engineering teams will carry out work across Yarmouth, with work in York Road and Friars' Lane starting next month.

Drivers will face diversions and temporary lights, but the fire service - with its main station in Friars' Lane - said it was satisfied access would be maintained.

Chris Redbourne, owner of Tickles in Regent Road, said: 'The main concern is how much it's going to affect the holiday industry and the disruption to traffic - traffic is a problem here as we're pretty much an island.'

Work in the pedestrianised Regent Road will start in October, missing main holiday season. But work will not finish until March 2013 and businesses are concerned.

Lenny Gordon, owner of Gordon Linens in Regent Road, said: 'Until you see the holes being dug and how big they are you don't know. We just hope for the best.'

The National Grid team say they aim to minimise disruption at weekends and during major events including the Maritime Festival, and signs will go up a fortnight before roads are dug up.

Chris Quayle, network manager for National Grid, told business leaders: 'We realise this is your livelihood round here and we're not going to interrupt that.'

Streets affected include Marine Parade, South Quay, Middle Market Road, Howard Street South, King Street, Princes Road and Trafalgar Road. Roads will be reinstated to their original condition once work is finished. Bosses say the upgrade work is essential, and new plastic pipes will last for 80 years.

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