'We should be compensated for smart corridor works' says Northampton shop owner

Residents in St James protested against a proposed closure of a left turn from Spencer Bridge Road to Weedon Road. Now a business owner says the roadworks are hampering trade.
Residents in St James protested against a proposed closure of a left turn from Spencer Bridge Road to Weedon Road. Now a business owner says the roadworks are hampering trade.

A greengrocer in Northampton says works to the St James "smart corridor" are hampering businesses in the area so much - the council should consider compensating them.

The works to improve the traffic flow around St James have already proved controversial, with many concerned about the effect removing the left turn from Spencer Bridge Road onto Weedon Road would have.

But now with construction in full flow, some firms in the area have noticed a sudden drop-off in trade.

Alfred Searle, who owns a long-running greengrocers on Weedon Road, said businesses should be compensated for the disruption.

He said: "Our takings are considerably down.

"I think people, especially drivers, are generally avoiding the area because they are expecting traffic."

Mr Searle said bus users are also being put off from coming to St James because a set of stops have been moved for the work to take place.

"They should have taken into consideration the local businesses and set money aside for compensation," he said.

"You can't please everybody, but we are not just talking about people being inconvenienced."

County councillor for the area Gareth Eales, (Lab, Dallington and Spencer) said the level of disruption to businesses has been "significant."

He said: "Some genuinely believe they may go out of business before the works are completed.

"So there isn't any optimism from small businesses that this scheme will bear fruit.

"WI-Fi at bus stops and electronic displays won't pay the bills. "

The project promises to "improve commuter journeys" and will eventually see traffic sensors installed in the area, improved cycle lanes, a new bus shelter and live traffic updates placed on digital screens.

The move to permanently "ban" regular traffic from using the left turn from Spencer Bridge Road onto Weedon Road was scrapped due to heavy opposition.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council, said: "A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “We have been liaising with residents and businesses and have put in place signage advising that businesses are open as usual.

“Like with any of the many highways projects which are undertaken in the county each year, we, as the highway authority must reasonably maintain access to any premises situated on or adjacent to the road.

“There is access to all businesses in the vicinity of the works and four pedestrian marshals on hand to help people find their way.

“Additionally, if any works need to be carried out directly outside a business, work is done outside of business hours.”