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Friargate businesses consider legal action as council says roadworks will run until autumn

Posted on - 28th June, 2023 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Friargate, Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Pubs, Restaurants in Preston, Roads, Takeaways
Town House in Friargate
Town House has spoken out against the roadworks Pic: @town.house.coffee62 / Instagram

Independent businesses in Friargate are considering legal action against Lancashire County Council due to the ongoing impact of roadworks in the area.

The Transforming Friargate North and Ringway scheme has seen Friargate closed since May 2022 as work is carried out to pedestrianise the street.

Speaking to Blog Preston, a spokesperson for Town House Coffee and Brew Bar said: “We’ve been meeting with the council, and have contacted councillors. It’s looking like between the traders on the street we may have to hire a solicitor.”

Earlier, Town House had taken to Instagram stories to express frustration and fear at the continued consequences on local livelihoods.

The statement said: “We’ve officially had the road closed, open and closed for five years. Since 2022 Lancashire County Council has been renovating the street with the end date as March 2023. March is long gone and there is no end in sight.

“The project has been extended to October 2023 because Lancashire County Council has no flags and no contractor to lay them. This is leaving a lot of independent businesses stranded with a huge amount of restricted access and income.

“Now, without official notification, the project may not be completed until March 2024, leaving the majority of independent businesses in a horrible situation that they have not had the opportunity to budget for, or are earning enough to keep their doors open.”

Read more: Vyne in Friargate blames roadworks for closure

While Lancashire County Council has since confirmed the scheme is on track to be completed this autumn, Town House says the situation is having a huge negative effect.

“We’re having to pull together as a community and stand up for the livelihood of each business, which each has very important responsibilities such as employees, suppliers, customers and diversity within Preston.

“It’s shocking that Lancashire County Council would even leave so many traders in this disorganised circumstance and have no back up plan. Apart from bury their head.

“It’s hugely affecting us and everyone else in the area and – even though the overall outcome will be beautiful – right now, it feels so scary.”

Friargate roadworks Pic: Blog Preston
Town House described Friargate as an “abandoned unmarked street, with obstacles and uneven surfaces” Pic: Blog Preston

Town House also used the statement as an opportunity to thank those who have supported the local businesses in the street.

“Thank you to everyone who goes out of their way to overcome the difficult commute to the area and battles up the abandoned unmarked street, with obstacles and uneven surfaces to visit any shop on Friargate.

“And thank you so much to everyone who walks through our doors. Without you it’s sad to say the roadworks would have definitely wiped us out already.”

Read more: The Preston City Centre road where local businesses need our support

In response, County Councillor Rupert Swarbrick, cabinet member for highways and transport for Lancashire County Council, said: “The Transforming Friargate North and Ringway scheme fundamentally changes the way we travel in and around Preston city centre and makes it an attractive destination for residents and visitors to enjoy, bringing it up to date with other modern cities.

“This in turn will drive growth and prosperity right across the city, generating more potential customers for businesses, particularly along the northern end of Friargate.

“We simply cannot achieve all of this without creating some temporary disruption, despite our best efforts to minimise it.

“As is natural for a scheme of this size, there have been some significant challenges we have had to overcome, not least the issues facing construction globally.

“Unfortunately, this has meant that the scheme is taking longer than expected to complete.  

“We are working with the recently appointed paving contractor to put the finishing touches on this exciting scheme.

“The scheme is on track to be completed this Autumn and we will work with businesses and the BID to confirm the new end date as soon as possible.

“We really appreciate how patient our business community has been and we ask that you please bear with us while we navigate this final stage of construction.

“It will be worth it once complete, making Preston city centre an ideal place to work, live, visit and enjoy as a revitalised public space.”

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