Police order contractor to halt work on city-centre road

PUBLISHED: 12:21 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:08 06 May 2010

A CONTRACTOR who closed a St Albans city centre road without proper authorisation in order to resurface it was ordered by the police to stop work and move its vehicles. Now it could face claims from businesses which fear that they lost money while the roa

A CONTRACTOR who closed a St Albans city centre road without proper authorisation in order to resurface it was ordered by the police to stop work and move its vehicles.

Now it could face claims from businesses which fear that they lost money while the road was shut and the entrance to their car park inaccessible.

Contractor Amey Lafarge, part of the Herts Highways consortium, shut Spencer Street last Thursday morning without carrying out the statutory requirements.

These include four weeks warning for residents. Instead the contractor just put leaflets under the windscreen wipers of cars last Wednesday afternoon, the day before work was due to start.

Workmen then arrived at 8am, closed the road and began resurfacing, blocking shoppers from accessing Christopher Place shopping centre car park and stopping residents from getting out of their road.

The police arrived at midday after being called by the car park manager and ordered the workmen to stop and open the road with the work left unfinished.

District councillor Jack Pia, who lives in Spencer Street, said that residents had been very keen for the work to be done because the road was in such a poor condition but closing it without giving proper warning threw a huge spanner in the works.

When he found out on Wednesday that the road was to be closed he called at neighbours' houses to warn them.

He offered residents without off-street parking a chance to park in his driveway but some residents were on holiday and there was no way of moving their cars from the street.

He said: "The workmen started planing the road surface off and there is still a great drop outside my house. They did not tell Christopher Place, Argos or Head Teachers which caused serious disruption."

He added: "I know that it's difficult for Amey Lafarge to fix a date for the work, because it has to be called off if it rains or there is a frost and they have to transport huge equipment to the site but this just shouldn't happen."

Manager of Christopher Place car park Louise Michie said when she arrived at 8.30am she could not get into the entrance in Upper Dagnall Street because it is part of a one-way system with Spencer Street.

Shoppers were resorting to reversing up the one-way system to park in the car park, she added.

Ms Michie said that there would have been disruption even with proper notice about the work but measures could have been taken such as turning the one-way system into a two-way system so cars could still get to the car park.

She added: "I don't know how much we or our shops have lost in revenue. I'm going to go round all our tenants and find out what the damage is. It's just shocking that this can be allowed to happen."

Herts County Councillor Chris White has called for all businesses which lost revenue to be compensated.

A spokesperson for Herts Highways confirmed that there was an unauthorised closure of Spencer Street carried out by Amey Lafarge which was carrying out scheduled patch-and-repair works on their behalf.

She added: "A letter is being sent to all residents of Spencer Street, Cross Street and Upper Dagnall Srtreet to apologise for any inconvenience caused. The works will now be completed at a later date and all local residents and businesses will be notified in writing two weeks before work starts and alternative access arrangements will be made for the duration of the works which should be two days.

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