Repair delays cause trade fears

Herstmonceux traffic.'Carol Barden and Caroline Davenport-Thomas
Herstmonceux traffic.'Carol Barden and Caroline Davenport-Thomas

Repair work on Herstmonceux’s busiest road has been delayed by a month due to “difficult” ground conditions.

Contractors for South East Water have fallen behind schedule as they install 530 metres of water pipes.

The water firm hopes to finish four months of planned work with the completion of customer connections by April 26 but needs to return again in May. Work began on Gardner Street this January.

A company spokesman said they were ‘disappointed’ with the time the £127,000 scheme was taking and lessons had to be learnt from it.

The disappointment was echoed by traders in the village who have had business hit by the road works.

The work was postponed last November by South East Water to allow shops to make the most of Christmas trade.

Caroline Davenport-Thomas, who owns Davenport Ltd deli on Gardner Street, said: “I know the work basically needs to be done but I’m worried about my business.

“I think we are all just sick to death of it, it’s supposed to be finished. This is killing us and is detrimental to traders and the village.

“With the economic climate and the weather not helping we are all struggling and people are not coming back to the village because there’s nowhere to park.

“South East Water have been really helpful but it’s the second batch of work that seems to be the problem. It’s taken longer than they thought and it’s just horrendous.

“My frustration, and also for residents, is they cannot park cars next to houses because it’s been dug up so they are taking up spaces that could be potentially used for customers.”

A resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s getting completely out of hand with the traffic. It’s got the whole village in uproar. They are digging holes and there’s traffic chaos; nobody can park for the shops. The whole situation is getting completely ridiculous. Nobody can get down to the shops.”

James Smith, delivery manager at South East Water, said: “We would like to apologise to our customers in Herstmonceux for the unforeseen delays affecting our work in their village. We appreciate the patience and cooperation that they have shown to us.

“While the new water main has been laid we still need to connect all properties up to the new pipe.”

He added: “The delays are a result of difficult ground conditions which mean that the workforce are digging out the road to connect the new pipe to individual property supplies instead of using a much quicker drilling technique.”

“The plan is to finish the customer connections within the village shopping area by April 26. We will then return on May 28 for approximately one month, working away from Herstmonceux which should not cause disruption to the shops in Gardner Street. This has been agreed following recent discussions with East Sussex County Council.

“We are ourselves disappointed by the length of time this scheme is taking and will review what has happened in order to learn lessons.