Furious Wincolmlee traders say two-month road closure is 'kick in the teeth'
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 30 Jan 2019
Traders in Wincolmlee and Bankside have hit out at Northern Gas Networks about a controversial plan to shut a chunk of the road for over two months.
From February 4 until April 22, Wincolmlee will be closed between Fountain Road and Bankside Park cycle path so that gas pipes in the area can be replaced.
However, Jon Hilton, who runs Pulse Rate Group in Wincolmlee, says he did not find out about the closure until January 24, meaning he had less than two weeks to prepare for the anticipated disruption.
The shutting of the road comes after a year of upheaval in the area with many businesses affected by the six-month closure of parts of Bankside and Wincolmlee.
It caused travel chaos and turned the area into a “ghost town”, and now Mr Hilton feels traders have been delivered a “second kick in the teeth” with this latest decision.
A ‘disgusting’ decision
Jon is worried about the impact the closure could have on his business (Jerome Ellerby)
"We were told nothing at all and I think it’s absolutely disgusting, particularly after we just had the issues with the flood defences,” Mr Hilton said.
“While work was ongoing last time we had to cancel everything because the noise was unbearable and we picked trade back up after New Year only for this to be thrown at us now.
“It’s another kick in the teeth for us and if this was pre-planned, all businesses should have had the chance to look at their diaries.
“Every business is different but as it stands, they’ve not consulted us or given us the authority to question it and it will have a detrimental effect on us as a business.”
‘This will set us back’
Pulse Rate Group in Wincolmlee (Jerome Ellerby)
Mr Hilton says congestion will build up in the area as a result of the closure and his customers will have to make lengthy diversions in order to get to his business while Wincolmlee is shut.
Pulse Rate Group, which is described as a “one stop shop” for health and safety and first aid solutions, took a “hammering” during the winter and Mr Hilton said he had hoped to reinvigorate trade in the New Year.
However, he now fears this latest closure could set back his business even further.
“They’ve got to give us time to get trade back up to where it was again because as a local business we took a hammering in what was a slow time of year for us over November and December.
“We are in the process of moving upstairs and planning new changes and I thought that now the work with flood defences had gone we could start the New Year with a nice drive towards business success but that is not happening.
“At the end of the day I’m just a business owner trying to make a living for myself.”
‘We will survive’
Nick King, owner of NPK Auto Centre & MOT (Jerome Ellerby)
Nick King, who runs NPK Auto Centre & MOT in Bankside, says he was also not made aware of the closure of Wincolmlee until January 24.
Last year, he feared for the future of his business after the closure of Bankside was announced but after he managed to survive he is confident two months will not create too much upheaval.
“We are alright and we are surviving,” the trader said. “I was hoping I would be bigger and have more staff by now but we haven’t.
“We’ve had setbacks but we’ve also never been busier. I thought I would be closer to the retirement stage and it might mean I have to take a one-week holiday instead of a fortnight but two months will fly by.
“I’ve worried too much over the last 18 months and I’m still here and I’m still surviving so two months won’t put my business under.”
What Northern Gas Networks says
A section of Wincomlee will be closed for over two months (Katie Pugh)
The upgrade to the area will cost £475,000 with 440m of existing metal gas mains set to be replaced with more durable pipes to ensure the continued safe and reliable supply of gas to customers for years to come.
An order for the closure of that road states: "The purpose of the order is to ensure the safety of the public and operatives during the replacement of a damaged gas main.
"A signed diversion will be in operation incorporating Air Street, Sculcoates Lane, Beverley Road and Fountain Road between Guildhall Road and Hanover Square. Access will not be maintained for emergency services."
Northern Gas Networks said it has visited businesses who will be “directly impacted” by the work and has used social media to raise awareness of the scheme in the wider area.
A spokesman said: "We know that roadworks are never welcome, but the gas pipes in the area need replacing because they are old and need regular repairs.
"Originally, we had hoped to do this work last year, at the same time as the Environment Agency flood defence work in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately, we were not granted the necessary permission to do so - hence the need for a separate project this year.
Watch: The transformation of Wincolmlee
"We recognise that businesses who were impacted by the Environment Agency work will have concerns. However, this is a less impactful scheme, comparatively, with around 150 metres of road closed for the duration.
"Everything will be done to minimise inconvenience to motorists and businesses, and to get the work done quickly and safely.”
Businesses or motorists who wish to discuss the work can contact Northern Gas Networks’ customer care Team on 0800 040 7766 or email the firm at email@example.com.