Closure of Wheathampstead roads ‘is damaging businesses’

The roadworks in Wheathampstead

The roadworks in Wheathampstead - Credit: Archant

An upset jeweller said village businesses are being undermined following the closure of an integral road which could be shut off for up to two months.

Rachel Jeffrey, who owns a shop of the same name in Wheathampstead, said National Grid did not give traders sufficient notice of the work, which has left many fearing for their footfall figures.

The roads affected include the High Street, East Lane and Mill Walk – a footpath on which Rachel’s business is located.

Work to replace existing metal mains with new hardwearing plastic pipe began on Monday and is expected to continue until Monday, September 22.

Rachel said: “I think we were really all upset that we had so little notice – literally had a couple of weeks notice. It will really affect the people that are coming from St Albans and Harpenden.

She went on: “We were shocked for it to happen so quickly. They didn’t give us any chance to negotiate or give us any other options. I’ve never heard of a village being shut off like this.

“We had a meeting with the National Grid but again that was very short notice, and lots of the traders are very busy and are one-man shows so couldn’t get their shops covered to come along.”

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Rachel is unhappy with the way National Grid have handled communications about the upcoming works: “They just informed us rather than discussed it with us.

It’s almost like they didn’t even know we were here. They underestimate small villages.”

As a result of the closures and to encourage footfall the shop is offering free delivery to costumers and providing free prosecco.

In response, a spokesperson for National Grid said they were aware it was a busy area and a sensitive matter to traders.

The expected closure dates are a rough calculation and contractors were going to work most weekends and extended hours during the week to get the half a kilometre of pipe replaced as soon as possible.

She added: “If a business believes they’ve lost profit as a result of the work they may be entitled to compensation by contacting our customer service department.”