THE managing director of a Newbury company has slammed West Berkshire Council for not doing enough to help businesses throughout months of roadworks in the town.
Motorists have endured significant delays and disruption during the year-long closure of Boundary Road and 11 months of off-peak lane closures on the A339 through Newbury.
While the major work is coming to an end in coming weeks, many businesses will be counting the cost for months to come.
Chris Radcliffe, of iStyle Hair & Beauty in Hambridge Road, said: “It has had a massive impact on businesses.
“Over a period of four months we have lost in the region of £20,000.
“We have even had to lay a member of staff off just to get through these past few months financially.
“I’ve had clients call up to say they are stuck on the dual carriageway in traffic and will either have to cancel or reschedule their appointments.
“At no stage has the council been in touch with us to see if there’s anything they can do to help, yet all of our bills have stayed the same.
“We still have to pay high business rates.
“I spoke to someone at the council who said there is no such thing as relief for business rates because of roadworks and said there is nothing they can do in terms of compensation.
“Hambridge Road seems to be constantly affected by roadworks.
“It seems like everything is being done in one hit.
“I’m no planning expert, but maybe don’t close all roads at once.
“Hopefully, now the roadworks are coming to an end we can get back on track.”
Last week, at a West Berkshire Council meeting, opposition leader Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North) asked what the council was doing to help local businesses throughout the roadworks.
To which the executive member for planning and highways, Jeanette Cliffford (Con, Northcroft), replied: “The A339 project will bring genuine benefits to us all.
“But if there’s one sector in West Berkshire that has a special understanding of the importance of investing for the future, looking after vital assets and balancing short term pain for long term gain, it’s our business community.
“Our business men and women in West Berkshire know that the A339, our busiest road, is essential to the economic health of our district and they know it has to be looked after.
“The very fact all these separate projects have been combined and co-ordinated is something to celebrate. Overall, this highly-professional planning has reduced cost and disruption – but I know it’s been a long haul.
“We will continue to support local businesses by good planning, good information and being ready to help in special cases:
“If local businesses find they need help with more formal business continuity planning, they should get in touch and we will be able to provide advice
“If local businesses feel they’ve lost trade because of this project they should get in touch with the Valuation Office Agency, where temporary help might be available with their business rates.”
Mrs Clifford added: “When this huge project is finished, West Berkshire will have an asset to be proud of.
“The A339 will help us provide the new housing that the district needs and it will unlock the economic potential of the London Road Industrial Estate, this strategic site so very near to the centre of the town.
“Good news for local businesses. Good news for us all.”