Firms suffer as gas works close Clitheroe road

Wellgate that has been closed for the past three weeks.

Wellgate that has been closed for the past three weeks.

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Essential gas maintenance works have caused a 40% drop in profits according to one town centre trader.

Gail Fielding, of Clitheroe Dry Cleaners, said her profits were down by about 40% since work in Wellgate started on January 5th.

“A lot of people want to quickly drop off items at the shop and, with heavier items, they like to be able to park up, which they can’t do at the moment,” Gail explained.

National Grid, with Balfour Beatty, are working to renew the existing gas infrastructure in Wellgate.

The road has been closed from the junction at both York Street and Lowergate with work expected to last for five weeks in total.

However, Gail added the contractors have already said the work may last longer because of the recent freezing temperatures.

“When the temperature drops below freezing welding work cannot be carried out,” said Gail.

The work has affected other Wellgate businesses, including Beryl footwear shop.

Manager Kirsten Southam said the work was “playing havoc” with her deliveries as lorries could no longer deliver outside the shop and boxes were having to be wheeled in.

Kirsten said her profits were down by around 20% this week and she had been told it could be up to four weeks before she saw any compensation.

Linda Hardman, of The Flower Shop, praised the work men who she said had gone out of their way to help local businesses. She added they have also been working at weekends.

“The guys have been brill and the work has to be done.

“As long as the companies down here are compensated for their loss of profits, they have done all they can. Our customers are very loyal and have been very understanding.”

She added, however, there had been a “massive drop” in profits since work started.

Coun. Kevin Horkin, Ribble Valley Borough Councillor for St Mary’s ward, of which the town centre is part, said: “While it’s extremely important to always upgrade our services a lot of thought must be given to town centre businesses especially bearing in mind they are the lifeblood of our local economy and this is people’s livelihoods we are dealing with.

“If they are undertaking work on a main artery like this, it should be around the clock like they do on the Continent or in cities.”

A spokesman for National Grid said works were being carried out on a 130m stretch of 9in. diameter gas pipe and the old metal piping is being replaced with modern plastic piping.

She added works are on target to be completed by February 13th and any “short term pain” caused by the works would be for the “long-term benefit” as the new pipes should last 80 years.

The spokesman added the works had been timed so they did not interfere with Christmas and New Year sales periods.

She continued that a new technique was being used where the new plastic pipes were being pushed inside the old metal pipes, meaning less excavation work.