Northampton MP claims council has to help shops after retailers hit by roadworks lose trade

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MP Michael Ellis has launched an attack on Northamptonshire County Council over its “indifference” to shopkeepers affected by the Kingsthorpe roadworks.

A number of small, independent businesses in Harborough Road, Kingsthorpe, Northampton, could face closure after losing up to 80 per cent of takings and trade as people are now avoiding the area due to the most recent roadworks.

Mr Ellis, who is Conservative MP for Northampton North, accused the county council of displaying a “seeming indifference to the welfare of shopkeepers”, and called for them to “pull their finger out”.

Paul Lewis, who has run Paul Lewis Optician’s for 22 years, said July was his worst trading month since July 1989. She said: “When they started it was like someone had locked the door. It has just plummeted.”

Gill Jones, owner of Expressions Card Shop, said businesses had not had time to plan for the disruption after receiving only two weeks’ notice: “I was incensed by it. No business can readjust in that time. At its worst we’ve been down 40 per cent.”

She was also worried about the knock-on effect after the roadworks finish at the end of December. “For the last two months people have had to go elsewhere. What none of us know is whether those customers who would normally come to us are going to bother ever coming back,” she said.

Mr Ellis said: “Something has to be done to help the shopkeepers. I think the county council is not showing enough regard for the welfare of these shopkeepers who pay their rates, who pay their business tax and it’s not in the council’s interest to see these people go under. The council needs to pull its finger out and do something to help these people.

“It’s not good enough. I expect to see some action.”

He added: “In many cases the landlords have given the shopkeepers a rent holiday, even some of their suppliers have given them special arrangements because they know what trouble they’re in. So the landlord and suppliers are helping them, but the council is not.”

A spokesman for the county council said resurfacing work that started last week was taking place overnight to reduce disruption for motorists, residents and businesses. He said: “Businesses in the area are also being communicated with via a newsletter and visits to their premises to keep them updated on any changes.

“Signage has been erected to indicate that businesses are open as usual,” he added.