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Sorry - Anglian Water’s apology as roadworks disruption in Lowestoft rumbles on

PUBLISHED: 09:16 24 February 2012

Road works on station square, Lowestoft are causing major traffic congestion.

Road works on station square, Lowestoft are causing major traffic congestion.

© Archant 2012

FRUSTRATED traders and motorists in Lowestoft were delivered the news they least wanted to hear yesterday – as it was revealed that major roadworks in the town centre could last another fortnight.

The work to repair a sewer in Station Square has caused major disruption in the town centre, and prompted claims by some shops and businesses that they have lost custom as a direct result.

But, despite the efforts of Anglian Water to complete the £130,000 scheme ahead of its five-week schedule, engineers have run into unforeseen problems that have caused a series of delays. Yesterday, news that part of Station Square could be blocked off until Thursday, March 8 – two weeks longer than originally planned – was described as a “total shambles” and “extremely disappointing”.

The company apologised, saying it was “very sorry” for the latest delay.

But Emma King, Lowestoft town centre manager, said: “This is devastating news for Lowestoft traders and comes as another mighty blow, having been told that the roadworks were going to finish early.

“The retailers are totally disillusioned and feel like they have been made fools of because they were grateful for the news of early completion but it was far from the reality of the situation.” She also criticised “the lack of communication” from Anglian Water, saying business leaders should have been kept in the picture so that traders could have been updated and made arrangements to minimise disruption.

“This is a total shambles,” she said. “But something good needs to come out of this. A great deal of help will be needed to encourage those people we have now lost to other locations back to Lowestoft again and to help our traders regain their losses. Anglian Water need to think about the impact this is having on Lowestoft.”

Meanwhile, Anglian Water managers have agreed to meet traders and Waveney MP Peter Aldous to see if access can be improved to the town centre during the remainder of the work.

“The news about the further delay is extremely disappointing and I am acutely aware of the difficulties that this is creating both for town centre traders and those who shop and work in Lowestoft,” Mr Aldous said.

“I have been in close contact with the highways authorities since the works begun.

“On receiving news of the latest delay I spoke to Anglian Water, emphasising the problems that this is causing. They have agreed to meet up with myself and representatives of the traders to discuss any improvements or alterations that could be made to improve access arrangements to the town centre.

He added: “Any business that feels that they have a claim to compensation should contact Anglian Water, providing evidence of the impact that the works have had. I am also keen to hear from them.”

As previously reported by The Journal, the roadworks started on January 23 and immediately came under fire from Waveney District Council, which criticised Anglian Water for failing to notify it that the work was taking place.

However, the company then announced the repairs were on course for an early finish on February 8 – only to suffer a delay. It then pledged to complete the scheme last Friday, but it suffered another hold-up.

The delays have been caused by problems with a new sewer lining that is being installed.

Lowestoft mayor Tod Sullivan said: “I think Anglian Water’s communication on this has been pretty appalling. They have not made any effort prior to the works to communicate to people who could then have made plans

“They were then quite bullish by stating they were going to get all the works done two weeks early, the business owners and shops have all been hanging on each morning to see if the cones had been removed.”

During the work, north-bound traffic has been unable to turn from Station Square into Waveney Road, meaning some drivers have faced a diversion of up to a mile, and big tailbacks have built up at peak times.

Antony Innes, for Anglian Water spokesman, said the roadworks had been minimised this week as the repairs neared completion. But he added: “Regrettably, work to reline and further strengthen the sewer has encountered problems and the length of the works will now need to be extended for a further two weeks.

“We are incredibly frustrated that these important works continue to be delayed after working very hard to finish the more disruptive part of these works ahead of schedule.

“Disruption will be kept to a minimum in Station Square, although vehicles are still unable to turn right onto Waveney Road. We are very sorry that these works have been delayed causing further disruption to the local area.”

Postbox – page 20

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