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Thursday, 20 November 2014

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Round-the-clock move to end Cockermouth roadworks chaos

Contractors are likely to work seven days a week to speed up the £1.7 million revamp of Cockermouth Main Street.

Cumbria County Council wants to strike a deal with contractors Aggregate Industries to have staff work round-the-clock.

They would aim to bring forward the completion date for the scheme.

The project is scheduled for completion in August but workers have already extended their hours.

From Monday to Thursday, they will be on site from 8am until 7pm – adding two hours to their normal working day – and from 8am until 5pm on Fridays.

A county council spokesman said it was hoped that the 11-hour days would accelerate the programme.

When the scheme was announced it was thought that only half of Main Street would be closed at a time, but it was later announced that the whole street would be shut for safety reasons.

Traders were dismayed and feared that disruption would affect their business.

The town’s chamber of trade has welcomed the plan to increase hours and consider round-the-clock working.

Andy Walsh, chamber chairman, said: “It would be wonderful. It will bring the end date forward by a good few weeks. Some people are saying 28 days, but we will wait and see.”

Councillor Keith Little, of the county council, said: “I appreciate the disruption this major work is having on the town and we apologise for the inconvenience. We’re pulling out all the stops to see how we can help further.”

He said businesses required support and urged people to visit the town for shopping.

The closure between Sullart Street and Station Street is for work to improve the drainage system and boost flood protection. The council is also taking the chance to improve the road, paths and street lighting.

A second phase, from High Sand Lane to Cocker Bridge, is planned to start in May when that section of road will close.

There is concern about businesses being severely affected, despite pedestrian access being kept open.

Mr Walsh said: “The picture is still mixed. Some people are doing badly, some are doing okay and some are doing quite well. It depends on where the business is. It’s not all doom and gloom.”

Douglas Baptie, of CP Cumbria, which works with people affected by cerebral palsy, said its shop in Station Street was losing more than £300 a week.

He said: “The drop in income was obvious as soon as the roadworks started.”

Julie Watson, who runs Cockermouth Sweet Shop, on Main Street, said her profits had halved and she has had to let two staff go.

She said: “We are being told that it is business as usual but I am really concerned.

“The traffic has been horrendous and it is putting people off coming in.

“We want the work over as soon as possible.”

Coun Little said the money invested in improving the drainage system came from the Government directly because of the 2009 floods.

He added: “I’m urging people to once again make the extra effort to support local traders in their hour of need.”

Have your say

It would appear that the biggest traffic hold ups are caused by people trying to turn right out of South Street onto Station Street and by the constant stream of traffic cutting through Sainsbury's car park from South Street to Station Road. Surely making the end of South Street a left turn only and blocking off the South Street entrance to the car park would ease the situation.

Posted by Barry Pickthall on 29 March 2014 at 07:31

Its all very well doing this after people have complained over the fact that they changed their original working plans and have dug up the whole street, now after complaints they speed up the work, why now? This should have been on the table from the very beginning to cause as short a period of disruption as possible.

Posted by Mark on 28 March 2014 at 19:05

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