Relief over Lowestoft roadworks
MOTORISTS battling through roadworks in the heart of Lowestoft for the last two weeks are set for an early reprieve from the traffic chaos.
The major roadworks in Station Square have been causing traffic to grind to a halt and has seen shops lose business as drivers give up on making a mile-long diversion.
It was feared the middle lane of Station Square would be blocked off for up to five weeks.
But now the roadworks should be finished by the middle of next week – more than two weeks earlier than announced by Anglian Water.
It is understood the work could even be cleared by as early as Tuesday.
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Meanwhile Anglian Water this week said it had always hoped to complete the work in about two weeks.
The news the roadworks will be cleared two weeks earlier was warmly welcomed by Waveney District Council and the town's mayor and MP.
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However, as a sense of relief was expressed, pledges were made that Anglian Water must properly inform the town of any future work it is carrying out.
As reported last week, there was anger from Waveney's chief executive, Stephen Baker, that his authority had not been told about the works in advance so it could properly prepare for the disruption.
Yesterday, Waveney leader Colin Law welcomed Anglian Water's announcement.
He said: 'I am very pleased that the works will be finishing earlier than expected and that Anglian Water have acknowledged the importance of good communications with those that may be affected by works disruption.
'We made this point clearly to them and I am grateful that they have taken this on board.
'We look forward to working closely with Anglian Water to avoid a repetition in future.'
Lowestoft mayor Tod Sullivan had led calls for Waveney to do something to help businesses that saw a slump in profits because of fewer people going into the town's shops.
He said: 'I think this is really good news. We had put a lot of pressure on Anglian Water over the lack of communication for it.
'We have to make sure the channels of communication have to be improved.'
Mr Sullivan said he was still working with the council at looking at ways to help businesses affected by the works.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous is now demanding answers as to why Anglian Water did not tell the district council about the work.
He said: 'Anglian Water failed the correct procedure for notifying people so that arrangements could have put in place to minimise the disruption.
'But the fact that the work is now shorter than announced is something that should be welcomed.'
As an added bonus to beleaguered motorists and shops, the roadworks will be taken down between Friday night and Sunday night so people will not face any delays in reaching the town centre over the weekend.
The roadworks have been set up so Anglian Water can repair a collapsed and broken sewer.
The �130,000 sewer repair work means vehicles are prevented from turning right from Station Square into Waveney Road as the middle lane of north-bound A12.
Traffic is being diverted via Denmark Road, Katwijk Way, St Peter's Street, Artillery Way, Old Nelson Street and Battery Green.
Antony Innes, an Anglian Water spokesman, said the work should be completed by the 'middle of the week'.
He added: 'It was always our ambition to have finished the work in about two weeks. We said it would be up to five weeks as we always have to err on the side of caution.
'It is good that we have been able to get it completed ahead of schedule (the five weeks).'
Mr Innes said Anglian Water repeated a previous statement that it was sorry it had not contacted Waveney about the works, which would be welcomed by people living by the sewer.
As last week Palmer's department store saw a 6pc fall in takings.
This week, Jim Godfrey, managing director of Godfreys store, called the roadworks an 'appalling state of affairs' and suggested business rates should be suspended for a month to recompense traders.
Bonnie Elkins, of Bonnie's Dog Grooming in Cliff Road, also said the she had lost customers because of the backed-up traffic caused by the 'ridiculous' roadworks.
An emergency meeting to discuss the situation was hosted yesterday by the Town Centre Management Partnership and attended by local businesses and management from Waveney District Council. At the meeting it was revealed that the majority of works would be clear in time for the weekend with just some remedial works to take place early next week.
Town centre manager Emma King said: 'We are delighted that these essential works will be completed earlier than first thought and that we can now welcome shoppers back into the town. Lowestoft's thriving retail centre is back in business!'