‘Roadworks are killing off our businesses’

FED UP: Frustrated business owners in the Kirkgate area.
FED UP: Frustrated business owners in the Kirkgate area.

Fed up business owners say that ongoing roadworks in the city centre are killing their trade.

The frustrated group say the works in the Kirkgate area, which began in April last year, are causing major disruption and driving customers away.

Jacqueline and Jeffrey Walpole, who run Doorkraft, Auto Graph Specialist Cars and Criminal Records vinyl shop on Park Street, said the roadworks were killing them off.

Mrs Walpole said. “I’m having to cash pensions and shares to keep the rent and bills paid.

“The road looks like it is closed. It has been dug up but not yet resurfaced and there’s diggers and trucks across it.”

Mrs Walpole said the couple, who have run businesses in the area for 30 years, initially had “work on the books” but have experienced a 70 per cent decrease in business since September.

“We have tried to live in harmony with this but it has gone on too long,” she said. “We made it through the recession, and now this could kill us off.”

Mark Beever, a partner in Paregal Pianos on Park Street, said the length of time of the roadworks and the amount of disruption was “unacceptable”.

He said: “We have not had footfall through the door. There’s been little passing trade.

“We have noticed a massive drop in our income and it’s only a small family-run business. We can’t afford it - it’s crippling us.”

Aziz Daji, the subpostmaster at Kirkgate Post Office said hehas also been suffering.

“The post office and the shop side of the business have been immensely affected,” he said. “People aren’t able to find a place to park or get here as quickly.”

He called for members of Wakefield Council to meet with business owners and hear their concerns, “with a view to giving us some kind of compensation”.

The £6m works, being carried out by the council, aim to improve the road layout for motorists and pedestrians and are part of the regeneration of the Kirkgate gateway into the city.

The project has involved the filling in of the subways and will see a new roundabout and traffic signals installed and the introduction of dedicated cycle routes, the authority said.

The pavement, on the opposite side to Wilko, has been widened as steps, walls, ramps, fencing and trees leading to the underpass have been removed.

And the project will also include removing the old central reservations of Kirkgate and putting new kerbs in place and “improved” access to Kirkgate Railway Station.

Neil Rodgers, the authority’s service director for planning, transportation and highways, said: “We are doing all we can to support businesses and are now looking to install additional signage in the area to show that shops are open as usual during the works.

“The project is on track to be completed late spring, and will bring great benefits to local businesses by improving access to Kirkgate.”