Roadworks causing chaos at the bottom of Parliament Street have been lifted just in time for this weekend’s Christmas market, but retailers have been left fuming at the disruption – and cost to their businesses.
The temporary lights on the junction with Kings Road were removed by Northern Gas Networks yesterday. Originally scheduled to last four weeks ,it was feared a potential extension by a further two weeks would effect visitor numbers to the Christmas Market, starting today.
The organiser of the market, Brian Dunsby said: “We have over 140 coaches about to start coming in, and expect around 60,000 visitors and we were very concerned as we could just see the roads being choked up.
“However fortunately this has been completed in the nick of time.”
A final set of resurfacing work will still have to be carried out across one evening and require a lane closure on a currently unconfirmed date following the market, and before the Christmas embargo for roadworks in the county.
However for many traders the damage has already been done. Customers of ladies fashion shop Julie Fitzmaurice on Parliament Street were calling the business to cancel booked appointments, leaving owner Gini Palm frustrated over the lack of consultation for work to begin during one of the most important trading periods of the year.
Mrs Palm said: “We just should have been consulted and had a voice for Parliament Street as this has flattened trade by at least 30 per cent.
“Traffic has been brought to a standstill by the work three Saturdays in a row, we have had people travelling to the store for special appointments calling to cancel.”
Owner of Bijouled Ltd, Georgina Collins, flagged concerns over visitors finding travelling and parking too difficult.
Mrs Collins said: “I can say we have definitely lost money because of this, there has been less footfall and people from outside the area will be finding it difficult to travel.
“For independent traders November to December is incredibly important for turnover and worse still I think this will lead to people going to do their Christmas shopping elsewhere in the future.”
The Harrogate Chamber of Commerce flagged concerns with both North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council over the impact work was having to trade.
Chief Executive Sandra Doherty explained that she had felt the effect at her own business, Alexa House, on Ripon Road.
Mrs Doherty said: “We had some customers telling us they were waiting in traffic for up to 40 minutes because of the roadworks.”
She added: “A lot of business feel that if they had known what was happening then they could have planned around it and it could have been less disruptive.”
It is also welcome news to the Chamber that North Yorkshire County Council will launch its new roadworks permit scheme next year, which could prevent a similar situation arising again.
This will require utility companies to seek approval, and be granted a permit, before roadworks go ahead. NYCC will also be able to impose conditions, to avoid busy times of year, and demand faster removal of equipment and signs following completion of work, or impose penalties for breaching conditions.
or carrying out work without a permit.