SMBs losing trade due to poor quality street works

Thursday 13 December 2012

Business

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are losing thousands of pounds every week as a result of shoddy street works carried out by utility companies, it has been claimed.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils across England and Wales, says needless works which could easily be avoided are stunting growth on the high street.

Utility companies are responsible for approximately two million road openings a year, some of which could be avoided through better co-ordination between rival firms.

In addition, highways bosses say the need to repair poorly re-laid surfaces is costing taxpayers £218 million a year.

Research conducted by the LGA, in conjunction with the Association of Convenience Stores, found that 57 per cent of shops have had street works nearby over the past three years.

Some 72 per cent of these were negatively affected by work, with issues including forced closure, delivery delays, reduced footfall and reduced sales.

Of those surveyed, 43 per cent said they were affected for at least a month, with nine per cent for at least six months.

Some 31 per cent say street works reduced their footfall by at least a quarter, with some losing up to 2,500 customers a week.

Councillor Peter Box, chair of the Local Government Association's Economy and Transport Board, said most street works are essential and in many cases utility companies carry them out efficiently and to a good standard.

"But all too often the rush to get on to the next job leaves in its wake patches of shoddy resurfacing," he stated.

"Not only does this leave the council footing the bill to resurface the road properly, it means needless days of extra disruption are inflicted on nearby businesses and motorists."

Cllr Box said that in tough economic times, high street businesses need all the support they can get.

"Losing potential customers and thousands of pounds a week can devastate a small trader's balance sheets, making the difference between trading for another year or going to the wall," he stated.

"Thriving local economies are essential for national growth and currently they are being stunted by needless street works."

Posted by Jenny Arthur