Traders fuming over gas works

Handbags & Hearts owner Joanne Mahon and Jeet Sahi of Ripon Laundrette pictured by the roadworks outside their shops. Picture ' Adrian Murray.
Handbags & Hearts owner Joanne Mahon and Jeet Sahi of Ripon Laundrette pictured by the roadworks outside their shops. Picture ' Adrian Murray.

Disgruntled shop owners have voiced their frustrations over ongoing roadworks along North Street which they say are harming trade.

After beginning work on Allhallowgate a number of weeks ago, Northern Gas Networks has been carrying out essential work on replacing North Street’s metallic gas mains since February 9.

In order to replace them with more than 100m of durable new plastic pipes, yellow barriers have been placed in front of the shops on the road along with traffic calming measures which have caused vehicle queues and restricted pedestrian access.

Joanne Mahon, who owns Handbags & Hearts on North Street, believes the lack of parking available as a result of the roadworks has had a”noticeable effect” on the shop’s ability to attract customers.

“Normally people park down Allhallowgate and walk to us but there has been no parking down there for quite a while,” she said.

“There are also three-way traffic lights so you are stuck in a queue just to get through North Street so people have stopped driving through here.

“We used to get a lot of passing traffic from people, either in their cars or walking down the street, but this has stopped and people are not walking down here because of the barriers.

“It’s a quieter time of year anyway but this is affecting everyone on the street and, at the moment, we have not had any word of when the work will be finishing.

“We are still trying to get established here in Ripon and we’ve only been here a year this month. We are desperately trying to get people into the shop.”

Jeet Sahi, owner of Ripon Laundrette on North Street, said that while he supports replacing the ageing metallic gas mains he is frustrated by the company’s lack of communication with business owners and the duration of the improvements.

“Many of my customers are elderly and disabled so they bring the car and stop outside the shop and then I go and pick it up but this cannot be done with these roadworks,” he said.

“My takings have already halved since the work started so I’m now overworking and putting in lots of hours to try and cover that loss and meet my targets.

“I had a customer who used to come every week, and on Sunday – which I’m having to work at the moment – he came in after a month away and said ‘this is the first time I have managed to get here since the work began’.”

Northern Gas Networks told the Gazette that the work to “ensure the continued safe and reliable supply of gas to customers” would be finished by Sunday. March 8, and thanked businesses for their “continued patience”.

Site manager Steve Goodwin said: “We understand the impact our essential work can have, particularly in small communities such as Ripon, and are doing all we can to minimise disruption to residents, motorists and business owners.

“We would like to thank everyone for their continued patience and understanding throughout this essential work and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”