Shops in a ghost town’

PUBLISHED: 14:36 24 August 2006 | UPDATED: 10:45 06 May 2010

Shopkeepers brandish their rate rebate forms.

Shopkeepers brandish their rate rebate forms.

WORK to stop a bridge from collapsing has caused shops to lose thousands of pounds in trade. The road to The Oval shops has been closed since July to allow vital work to the bridge, near Verity Way and Vardon Road in Stevenage, to be completed. But this

The ‘open as usual’ sign appeared when The Comet got involved.

WORK to stop a bridge from collapsing has caused shops to lose thousands of pounds in trade.

The road to The Oval shops has been closed since July to allow vital work to the bridge, near Verity Way and Vardon Road in Stevenage, to be completed.

But this has left the parade like a "ghost town" according to businesses.

This is the latest in a series of problems to hit the shops which have also been plagued by power cuts in the past few months.

Shopkeepers are applying for rate rebates as they claim business is so bad.

Lynn Ward, of Lynn Ward Hairdressers, said the road closure had led to businesses losing 35 per cent in revenue.

She said: "This year we have had floods, gas cuts and problems with the electricity. Now, thanks to the road closure, it is like a ghost town - our customers can't get here.

"It is the elderly who are affected because the bus can't get down the road. We are suffering and we want customers to know we are still here."

Mrs Ward criticised Stevenage Borough Council for not doing enough to support them.

But once The Comet contacted the council a sign soon went up telling customers that the businesses were still open.

A council spokesman said: "We are not responsible for these road works but in order to help the traders we have insisted that road signs are in place advising customers that the shops are open for business as usual.

"We have been encouraging Hertfordshire Highways to complete the work as soon as possible and we have made numerous visits to the traders to provide them with updates."

A Hertfordshire County Council spokesman said: "It is difficult to predict how long this type of work will take because you don't know the extent of work required until you open up the structure.

"It is essential that this work is carried out otherwise there is a risk that the bridge could collapse. The road has to remain closed until work is complete for safety reasons. People can still get to the Oval shops using the Vardon Road entrance (coming in from Grace Way) and the diversion route is clearly signed from the Verity Way side.

"We should have a better idea by the end of this week how long work is expected to take.


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