Saturday, 25 September 2021

Roadworks cost us £3,000 in lost trade, says business

A WINE wholesaler is claiming £3,000 in compensation for loss of trade

A WINE wholesaler is claiming £3,000 in compensation for loss of trade that he says was caused by roadworks.

Martin Chapman, managing director of Peter Osborne Fine Wines in Watlington, has sent a bill to Lark Energy because of the impact of the work, which is being carried out for a major solar panel installation project.

Mr Chapman said that during the first two weeks of the work in Brook Street there were diversions, traffic lights and signs in place.

But after contractors moved along the road to the Henley side of Brook Street and closed the road between its junction with Couching Street and Spring Lane, his business at Watcombe Manor Farm, off the B480, had virtually no customers.

Mr Chapman said: “The diversion routes were absolutely daft - we had to go through Christmas Common. The signage was poor too. They had signs at the top of Hill Road and Howe Road and in both instances they said ’road ahead closed’ and as a consequence it was turning traffic away.

“The signs should have said ’road ahead closed to through traffic - local access only’.

No one from the contractor came round to the local businesses to say, ’I’m terribly sorry, there’s going to be inconvenience here, please bear with us, we’re doing the best we can’. It was poorly handled.”

Mr Chapman said he had lost “chance” trade from people coming into the town via Howe Road because they were deterred by the signs.

Lark Energy told him it had passed on his request to its legal team.

The compamny is only involved in the construction of the main site, not the roadworks, which have been carried out by sub-contractor Harlaxton Engineering Services. Both companies work for Chalgrove Solar, which owns the solar farm site.

Chalgrove Solar was granted planning permission by South Oxfordshire District Council for the development on low quality arable land at Easington Manor Farm, near Chalgrove, in August. The installation will deliver its power to an electricity substation in Springfield Close, Watlington, by way of an underground cable from Easington. The work has now been largely completed and there is full access.

Watlington Business Association is carrying out a survey of businesses on whether the roadworks impacted on their trade.

Chairman Simon Jones said he had received complaints from a number of businesses. He said: “The work absolutely jammed the town solid. It stopped through traffic and it stopped people staying in town because you couldn’t get in or out. While it was in progress it was a complete nightmare for everybody. It was very badly planned.”

Mr Jones said the second lot of work effectively closed the town.

Ian Hill, chairman of Watlington Parish Council, said the Murco petrol station in Couching Street had lost trade, as had food outlets. There was also damage to street signs and pavements and potholes had increased in size as a result of the work.

“We’re talking to the contractor about remedial action,” said Councillor Hill.

Khalid Schofield, of Chalgrove Solar, said: “It is unfortunate we are unable to choose where a system connects to the grid infrastructure and have to work with the point of connection which in this instance is in the centre of Watlintgon. We have worked hard to minimised disruption.We are genuinely sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

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