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Belfast Road works causing a decline in trade, traders claim

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Belfast Road works causing a decline in trade, traders claim thumbnailMAJOR traffic disruption has been caused by the road works being carried out on the Belfast Road.

THE ongoing roadworks on the Belfast Road have caused business owners to cut staff hours amid a decline in trade.

The works, which will see a 0.7km stretch of the road from New Street to the Damolly roundabout resurfaced, began on April 24. The works will also see new footways constructed together with associated drainage improvement schemes.

A one-way system was put in place on the road from June 12 to facilitate carriageway resurfacing, and speaking to the Newry Democrat, a spokesperson for the popular No.7 restaurant explained the effect of the disruption.

"We're down, we're having to cut staff hours so the staff are down wages because we just don't have the customers coming in," she said.

The restaurant spokesperson also revealed that the business, in an attempt to offset some of its losses incurred over the last number of weeks, has applied for rates relief.

There appears to be little prospect of success, however on that front.

"I did apply for rates relief and we were basically told 'no chance,'"she said.

It is not that businesses such as No.7 do not recognise that the work needs to be carried out, and they are certainly grateful that it is being done.

"That was the first thing I said at the public meeting - we appreciate actually that some money is being spent in Newry, rather than in Belfast, Derry and all the other places that usually get it," she added.

"It'll be great when it's done but there are days of the week that maybe the outside of my premises was closed for four days with absolutely nothing happening.

"We're right in the middle [of the road], and obviously with Father's Day there - it was a bit of a damp squib to be honest. That is one of our key days.

"All we're looking is some sort of compensation - the rates relief would be a real help."

It has been a similar story for another business on the road, namely Soapy Joe's Car Wash.

"In terms of ourselves - how we were trying to look at it was 'business as usual,'" said a spokesperson.

"We were still trading, seven days a week and with exactly the same hours and we were doing this for the public who come to us every week, as well as the businesses that we service every week.

"However, due to the loop that needed done around the town, where there is the one way system - a lot of those people were put off coming to us.

"The main thing for us was about our staff and how they were going to be affected and their families.

"I thought we were going to have to reduce men's hours, and that is what we have had to do.

"There are an amount of businesses within the town who come here to us, and for whom we do PSVs or MOTs - the thing with them is that we weren't getting the same volume of business in from them because of the loss of time to actually get here.

"And we know that it's great that the town has got this big investment, but unfortunately the other side of it is businesses are affected, as are the men and women who are working in businesses.

"We are very disappointed that there isn't something, even if there had of been some rates relief.

"If you are a business down money - you are just left to get on with it."

The Democrat has received an update from Transport NI about the works, the total cost of which have been estimated at 350,000.

"Works are progressing well and the surfacing has been completed up to Windsor Avenue," said a spokesperson.

"Following consultation between DFI Roads and PSNI we hope to reduce the one way system on Downshire road before this weekend (June 23 - June 25).

"The one way will begin at Windsor Avenue rather than New Street. Two way traffic will be permitted between New Street and Windsor Avenue.

"We appreciate the cooperation of the businesses to date and are on programme to substantially complete the works during the week commencing 3 July 2017."

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