FOLLOWING on from healthy trading for the period leading up to Christmas, Inverurie businesses are likely to be affected by imminent road closure.
For a period of four weeks from Monday (January 16), a portion of Inverurie’s High Street will close to allow for sewage and services to be installed at Bancon’s Knightsbridge development adjacent to the Masonic Hall.
Aberdeenshire Council has apologised for any inconvenience this may cause while the work is being completed and advises motorists to check the website for regular updates on all road closures in the area as the best source of live information.
An alternative route will be signposted via West High Street, Blackhall Road and the A96 Inverurie Bypass for through traffic and St James’s Place, Upperboat Road and Nether Davah or George Square. The High Street will be closed between the Banks of Ury car park and Wyness Lane. Diversions will include areas of ‘no waiting’ to ensure a constant flow of traffic through the town.
While Aberdeenshire Council have assured the business community that deliveries will not be affected, traders situated near the road closure have expressed concern, especially in view of the run up to Valentine’s Day, which is one of the busiest periods of the year for many of them.
On behalf of the town’s traders, Inverurie Business Association chair, Graeme Ross, wrote recently to the local authority expressing “dismay” and “disbelief” at the timing of the closure which was originally thought to be of five weeks’ duration.
In his letter Mr Ross asked why the work could not have been carried out a week earlier when schools were still on holiday, with extended working hours for the workforce, to minimise disruption. He also called for compensation for the businesses disadvantaged due to the works on a “private commercial development”.
Aberdeenshire Council responded at length to the concerns voiced on behalf of the IBA and pointed out that the start date was the earliest that could be agreed with the contractor. The response also made it clear that no compensation would be available to those likely to suffer a trading loss.
The council assured Mr Ross that the Roads Department minimise disruption to traffic as much as they can, in terms of timing and extent, but due to the sewer stretching across the road, the closure of the entire road is necessary.
One of the shops likely to suffer major impact from the works is De-Zire who moved from their premises in West High Street only last week. Proprietor Susan Evans expressed her concern: “We are dreading it with just being open. We’re dreading it not just for ourselves, but for the whole town.
“One of the reasons for moving here is that we have parking behind the shop, but now people won’t be able to get to it. We are expecting deliveries for Valentine’s Day, but I’ve no idea what the rules are for delivery vans.”
But Ms Evans has plans to attract customers, in spite of the closure. She said: “Running a sale isn’t appropriate for our range of lingerie, but we will be running a voucher scheme and we’ll be holding a ladies night with fizz and nibbles to show off our new collections and celebrate our new shop.”
Lesley Mair of Floral Design is also affected by the timing with Valentine’s day being one of their busiest times. She said: “It’s inconvenient, but it needs to be done. As long as they make people aware that the shops here are still open and as long as it is finished by Valentine’s Day, it shouldn’t be too bad, but we’ll have to see what happens once the road is closed.
Bancon told me that all being well and weather permitting, it should all be finished before February 14.
Ken Campbell from Case Point, father of owner David Campbell said: “It’s going to affect the through traffic, but how bad it will be remains to be seen. I know David isn’t happy about it.
“I’m not confident to remark on how it could have been done better, but the bottom line is that it is likely to affect us adversely. We hope deliveries will not be impacted.”
Other businesses in the immediate vicinity declined to comment.
Voicing the concerns of the traders, the Herald asked the council whether the closures would indeed affect deliveries, whether they had considered carrying out the work at night and whether there had been lessons learnt from the Oldmeldrum regeneration programme.
In the response, a representative of the council wrote: “The council met with the traders association prior to the planning of works, access will still exist for shops to get deliveries via the diversions.
“Works would be more expensive and incur noise restrictions if they took place at night and in addition works would still necessitate road closures.
“This is a separate situation from Oldmeldrum as is a much shorter restriction and a different area therefore not comparable.”