'It's horrendous' - traders take a hit as gas works continue
PUBLISHED: 06:30 22 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:51 22 November 2019
Shops along a busy road say weeks of work to upgrade the city's ageing gas network have knocked pre-Christmas trade.
Work on Plumstead Road started at the beginning of September and will continue until mid-December, resuming in the new year.
It has seen bus stops moved, parking spaces dug up and long delays at busy times.
And traders in the area have felt the effects, with James Archer, at Archer's Butchers, saying they were seeking compensation.
"It has had a massive impact on business, we are probably 15pc down," he said. "We have probably been at about 150 customers less a week."
He said it was a "necessary evil" and unavoidable, but that it would have an impact on Christmas trade.
"We are generally busy taking Christmas orders now, and while I haven't tallied up this year's orders compared to last, even if [the work is done] by Christmas, it will have an impact."
His concerns were echoed by Nonie Harries, from The Hair Salon, who said the work had been "horrendous" and had knocked trade.
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"It's not just that people are queueing, there were huge great areas of the road where people couldn't park," she said.
Martin Holmes, of Norflame, said they had seen fewer people coming through the doors, and Anne Martin, of Great Eastern Models model railway shop, said they were looking forward to the work being over.
"We are a specialist shop, so people travel in from all over the county which means it hasn't been too bad," she said. "If they were coming from Cromer or King's Lynn they wouldn't know until they had arrived.
"The worst of it was when they were directly outside the shop, and the parking bays outside were dug up."
For public transport users the work has also created problems, with First buses diverted and delayed at peak times.
Chris Speed, head of operations at First Eastern Counties, said the works had caused "some inconvenience", but said they were a necessity, adding that the operator hoped they could soon return to normality.
Work is due to continue on Plumstead Road until Friday, December 13, with engineers set to return to the Plumstead Road and Ketts Hill area in 2020. Details are yet to be confirmed.
A spokesperson for Cadent, which is behind the work, said it was planned with local authorities and with the aim of causing "minimal disruption", pointing to a compensation scheme for small businesses.
All the shops along Plumstead Road are open and accessible.