Months of repair work along Herstmonceux’s busiest street will put shops out of business and “ruin” the village, claim angry traders.
Contractors for South East Water move into the village on Monday to begin four months of work to upgrade 530 metres of water main along Gardener Street.
The road will have temporary two-way traffic lights installed during the £127,000 scheme to install a water main between the junctions of Chapel Row and West End (A271).
But traders believe the work will leave independent shops bankrupt and ruin the village.
Caroline Davenport-Thomas opened her award winning deli, Davenport Ltd, this March.
She said: “This will bankrupt the smaller, independent shops and ruin the village.
“With this being our first year Christmas is the prime-time for a deli and if customers cannot stop outside to pick up their shopping we are going to be in trouble.
“This is going to have a detrimental effect on the village.”
Carol Barden, owner of Bella-Fleur Floristry, said: “Us shops find it difficult enough but to do that work at this time of year is just awful and we are up in arms about it.
“We appreciate the work has to be done because we do get burst pipes but it’s the timing.
“The work will be over my busiest time: Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
“We didn’t get enough notice, they told us two weeks ago, but we are shops so buy Christmas stuff in August and Valentine stuff we’ve bought already.
“This will cause additional problems not just at the temporary traffic lights but congestion at the school and we’ll get traffic jams so people are just not going to stop in the village.
Eileen Scott runs her daughter’s business, Rusco Pet Shop, on Gardner Street. She said: “We’ve only been open five weeks and people are still finding us. Now if people run out of dog food for example they jump in car and come here, but if they cannot do that they will go in the opposite direction to shop.”
James Smith, delivery manager at South East Water, said they intended to stop working from December 21 to January 7 to help businesses and Christmas shoppers. He said “We have contacted residents and local businesses with the details of this essential scheme and have been working with some of the shop keepers and the parish council to lessen the short-term impact that we will have on the area.”
He added: “I would like reassure them that the team will be doing all they can to complete this essential project as quickly as possible.”
James Smith, delivery manager at South East Water, said they intended to stop working from December 21 to January 7 to help both businesses and Christmas shoppers.
He said “We have contacted residents and local businesses with the details of this essential scheme and have been working with some of the shop keepers and the parish council to lessen the short-term impact that we will have on the area.”
He added: “I would like to thank the local community and motorists in advance for their support and patience and reassure them that the team will be doing all they can to complete this essential project as quickly as possible.”
A South East Water released this statement: The £127,000 scheme to install a new water main in Gardner Street, Herstmonceux is part of £9.2 million programme of work taking place during 2012/13 in which we are upgrading 88 water mains across our supply area of Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire.
Due to the volume of work being undertaken we need to carefully plan each scheme to ensure it will be fully resourced and the appropriate time dedicated to it. Each scheme then needs to be worked into the wider programme of work for the 2012/13 year.
Our mains renewal project in Gardner Street, Herstmonceux is currently programmed to start on the 19th November.
Before letters were issued to residents and businesses in Gardner Street informing them of the work, we visited many of the businesses along Gardner Street to explain why this important work is required, how it will take place and find out how we can best work with those businesses to reduce any impact our work may have.
As a result of that visit we are currently in the process of investigating alternative parking options within the village as this was one of the biggest concerns business owners had. If an option proves feasible we will write to the businesses explaining the alternative arrangements which have been put in place.
Following this visit we have also agreed with our contractors that construction will begin away from the village and traffic controls managed to minimise queuing in the village to reduce disruption.
We are listening to the concerns of these businesses and looking to phase the works to further minimise disruption.