TRADERS in Midhurst say they are being hit hard by the major roadworks which are causing nightmare congestion and are expected to last about ten weeks.
John Quilter, vice-chairman of Midhurst Town Council and a member of the business promotion group the Town Team, told fellow councillors this week: “I have spoken to traders and they are reporting that their business takings are 30 per cent or more down since the roadworks started.”
He said he believed the contractors should be working on Saturdays and Sundays rather than just Monday to Friday to complete the work.
Fellow town councillor the Rev David Coote said he was ‘astonished’ there was no weekend working where traffic on such an important road was affected.
Chairman of the finance and general purposes committee Stephen Morley said he had also received complaints from traders about a loss of business.
“I also can’t believe they are not working over the weekend. This is causing a lot of concern.”
Colin Hughes said the roadworks came as a ‘double whammy’ to Midhurst after a series of other disruptions in the town.
“People feel this is beyond a joke. It is always surprising to me how little joined-up thinking there is about things like this.”
The roadworks are being carried out by contractors for West Sussex County Council who are upgrading all three pedestrian crossings in the town. It will mean some four days of congestion for each crossing while contractors carry out work on the road itself.
The temporary lights at the bottom of North Street where work on the first pedestrian crossing was taking place this week caused heavy congestion, with car journeys from the one side of the town to the other taking as long as 40 minutes.
A spokesman for the county council said: “To maintain the pedestrian facilities, the temporary signals must function as they are configured at the moment.
“However, whenever the workforce are not working in the carriageway, the lights will act as a replacement pedestrian crossing only.
“This will reduce delays to vehicles as it will allow a two-way flow when possible.”
The roadworks are part of a rolling programme to upgrade the three pedestrian crossings from ‘pelican’ to ‘puffin’.
The first crossing to be tackled is at the bottom of North Street between the car park and Capron House.
The second crossing to be improved will be further up North Street, outside Tesco.
The third is in Bepton Road, close to the roundabout linking the A286 with the busy A272.
County councillor Gordon McAra has also been talking to road engineers to try to improve the congestion.
“They are working on Saturday morning and I’ve suggested this is extended, but there is an extra cost and supplying materials,” he said.