TRADERS in Birstall claim they are losing thousands of pounds

Issue 487

TRADERS in Birstall claim they are losing thousands of pounds in business thanks to bungled roadworks which have shut off their village.
The Nelson Street access into the village centre has been closed from the Coach and Six junction in Gelderd Road since early this month. Traders say shoppers have shunned the village and their livelihoods are at risk.
Work on new pedestrian crossings which should have been almost complete hasn’t even started because vital machinery won’t be available until September 6. It means traders, who held a meeting at the Squash Club on Wednesday, are enduring weeks of extra disruption and decimated takings.
The Birstall Wellbeing Centre in Gelderd Road reported business down by at least 50 per cent while other shops have decided close for the next two weeks.
One trader, who did not want to be named, said: “Apparently it takes six weeks for a contractor to get permission to close a road.
“If they open it they’ve got go through that sixweek process again. So the village is being crippled for the sake of red tape. We’ve also had no explanation as to why the whole lot had to be closed. I only found out about the road being shut totally two weeks ago.
“When the work was supposed to have been done, in March, it was to take place on successive Sundays only. That seemed like the right idea to me.”
Shops elsewhere have also been hit as traffic jams and a diversion route mean motorists are giving Birstall a miss.
Nelson Walker, a butcher’s shop at the other end of Low Lane, has been closing early while trade at the Post Office is also down.
Shop owners even claim Kirklees Council has not put up enough ‘businesses open as usual’ signs, with those that are there being too small.
Former Kirklees councillor David Exley, who is a Birstall Chamber of Trade member, backed businesses over calls for the road to be reopened. He said: “There’s no reason why the road shouldn’t be reopened. It’s only being used for storage at the moment.
“It’s hit traders badly. Many only just survived the Market Place regeneration and then there was the recession. They don’t need this as well. It’s killing them.”
Mr Exley, also chairman of Heckmondwike Chamber of Trade, added: “Anyone with local knowledge would know that keeping Nelson Street open is vital to traders.
“The work itself is needed. I support the reasons for having the pedestrian crossings. There’s been a lot of accidents and nearmisses.
“I just hope that when the work’s finished and people start using the new crossings there’s some shops left for them to visit.”

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