'Why now?' - Broadband works could cost businesses vital Christmas trade

PUBLISHED: 16:00 30 November 2017

Robert Coles believes the roadworks should have taken place after Christmas.

Robert Coles believes the roadworks should have taken place after Christmas.

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A Congresbury business owner says traders are facing a 'seriously detrimental impact on Christmas trade' caused by untimely roadworks in one of the village's main shopping precincts.

Roadworks have taken over Broad Street in Congresbury.Roadworks have taken over Broad Street in Congresbury.

Robert Coles, of Church House Designs, is unhappy with Virgin Media’s work to dig up Broad Street to lay cables, just ahead of the shop’s busiest time of year.

He told the Times the businesses in Broad Street, off the A370 in the centre of the village, are having difficulties taking deliveries in addition to losing footfall and customers due to a lack of parking while diggers and lorries are stationed in the road.

Virgin Media was given permission to dig up the road to install fibre broadband cables by North Somerset Council.

The work is due to take place until December 15, and Mr Coles fears its festive trade may be harmed due to the ‘chaos’ in the street, and believes the timing of the project is inappropriate.

He said: “The work is expected to continue well into December, just at the time when traders have their busy Christmas period.

“There is traffic chaos; the street is half taken over by diggers, lorries, barriers, and contractors vehicles.

“Deliveries to retailers cannot get through; customers cannot park.

“This will have a seriously detrimental impact on Christmas trade. Who gave consent for this to happen now?

“They’re doing as good a job as they can, but why do it at this time of year? There is massive upheaval and it’s discouraged people from coming down the street.”

A council spokesman said the roadworks will ‘deliver super-fast broadband to residents and businesses in the area’.

They added: “We have directed Virgin Media to leave the area tidy and not to work on Broad Street during the forthcoming event which is on December 6.

“There have also been gas mains renewal works in the area. We have co-ordinated the work with both utility companies to make sure they have the capability of delivering the services the local community need while keeping disruption to a minimum.”

A Virgin Media spokesman said: “Virgin Media is currently expanding its network in Weston-super-Mare to bring ultrafast broadband speeds to more homes and businesses. As we do so, we endeavour to minimise disruption and we apologise for any inconvenience to residents.

“All work carried out on Congresbury’s Broad Street was approved by the local authority and we are due to finish in the area in early December.”

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