Town centre roadworks will 'play havoc' with business recovery
- Credit: Letchworth BID
Letchworth's Business Improvement District has said planned roadworks in the town centre will "play havoc" with its business recovery efforts.
Stores in the town have received a notice from the Highways department at Herts County Council of its intention to close Eastcheap - between Arena Parade and Leys Avenue - for carriageway works between July 26 and August 13, 9.30am to 4pm.
The notice states that pedestrian access will be maintained during the works and all local businesses will be open as usual, however all deliveries to the road will have to be rescheduled for before 9.30am or after 4pm.
Love Letchworth has expressed its frustration over the planned works.
A spokesman said: "Someone has to be answerable to putting a spanner in the works of the Letchworth's emerging and, hitherto, thriving café culture when - with the upcoming summer holidays - we would all be expecting to maximise footfall and entice the general public back into our town centre.
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"The pandemic has been an incredibly difficult time for us all, especially for our local economy. Our small, local, often family-run businesses in Letchworth have fought to keep our high street alive.
"Shockingly, it seems that county council Highways haven't noticed the national drive to rebuild and recover; with two of our main town centre streets set for closure during the height of our stay-cations, likely to play havoc with efforts to enjoy safe, al fresco dining and browsing in the fresh air of the summer.
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"It's hugely frustrating to hard-working local traders, that just as government support for business comes to an end, the county council decides to close main retail streets during the best weather, when out new café culture can really start to thrive."
Phil Bibby, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We have consulted with businesses on these important safety works, and we’ve made sure that visitors to the town centre will be able to access shops at all times and that the pavements will continue to be available for outdoor seating.
"We need to restore the block paving on these roads, as they are frequently turned into pedestrianised areas for local events, and uneven blocks are increasingly posing a trip hazard.
"There is never a good time to carry out roadworks in a town centre and we do appreciate how difficult things have been for local shops over the last year or so.
"Unfortunately the timing of work depends on us being able to find a time that doesn’t clash with other roadworks or local events, and when there is a work crew available to actually do the work. I hope residents and business will bear with us while we make these important safety improvements that will help Letchworth to recover and thrive as we move beyond COVID-19 restrictions.”
Access to Leys Avenue will be maintained from Station Road via temporary traffic lights.
Business owners have been asked to keep an eye on yellow signboards in streets for exact dates and timings of closures or diversions.