Closure will hit traders’

HUNTINGDON S business leaders are urging the district council to delay key demolition work at its Pathfinder House headquarters until next year. Traders are worried that advance warning of roadworks could keep shoppers out of the town centre, Malcolm Lyon

HUNTINGDON'S business leaders are urging the district council to delay key demolition work at its Pathfinder House headquarters until next year.

Traders are worried that advance warning of roadworks could keep shoppers out of the town centre, Malcolm Lyons, chairman of the district's branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, told The Hunts Post.

The signs announce lane closures on the ring road from today (Wednesday) until December 14 while work at Pathfinder House is carried out.

In fact, the lane will be closed between the Old Bridge Hotel and St Mary's Street at some time between those dates - possibly for as little as two days - and only between 9.30am and 4.30pm when traffic is at its lightest.


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But even that could be disastrous at the time of year that provides some shops with 60 per cent of their annual revenue, said John Bridge, chief executive of Huntingdonshire Chamber of Commerce.

Shoppers are being frightened away by the Cambridgeshire County Council signs, Mr Bridge said.

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He is writing to David Monks, HDC's chief executive, urging him to ask contractors Alfred McAlpine to delay demolition work close to the ring road.

"The signs don't say that any lane closures will be off-peak. Nor do they say that they will simply be at some times between the dates on the notice," he said.

"Shoppers are not going to come if they think there might be a problem. HDC could not have picked a worse time of year. This work should not be done for the council's convenience. It should not be done at the peak time of year and when the children are in school.

"Christmas is a time of good cheer. All they are going to do is create misery," he said.

"What we should be doing is attracting people here, particularly with what happened with the bus lane earlier in the year. Sixty per cent of business goes through in a six-week period.

"Any blip at this time of year is much more significant than at any other time. It will put some businesses under significant strain."

Richard Preston, who is masterminding the £16.4million redevelopment for HDC, said: "We cannot yet be absolutely sure when we shall need these off-peak closures.

"When the contractors start taking down the fourth and third floors at the very end of the bit of the building that's being demolished, there is a very remote chance that something that fell from there could end up in the ring road.

"We shall not close the road until there's an absolute need, and we shall re-open it as soon as we can," he said.

He promised that contractors would not impose lane closures before 9.30am or after 4.30pm on weekdays, so that the full width of the ring road would be available in the morning and evening peaks.

The right-hand waiting lane on the approach to the Riverside traffic lights from Godmanchester will also be closed to avoid the need for merging traffic.

There will be no weekend lane closures.

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