Stratford town centre tarmac costs near £200K
THE handling and escalating costs of the temporary road and pavement coronavirus measures in Stratford town centre have again been heavily criticised.
The Herald found out this week that recent resurfacing work has cost £192,000; the breakdown of which is: Bridge Street, £83,000, High Street, £43,000 and Sheep Street, £66,000.
However, as reported last week, the tarmac put down on Bridge Street recently only ran down the centre of the street between the barriers, so further work will be needed when the barricades are removed.
Much of the resurfacing work was done to make good following alterations to roads and pavements put in last summer after the easing of the first lockdown.
One business said it had quit the town due to ongoing problems caused by the measures put in. Emma and Howard Clegg who ran the Stratford Gallery upped sticks to Broadway just before Christmas.
They told the Herald: “The tourists who came in to see us during the summer commented on how the town looked like there had just been a terrorist attack with all the barriers, and how disappointed they were generally. Very sadly we felt that we genuinely could no longer encourage our customers to come to Stratford to spend hours sitting in traffic and then not to be able to wander freely but are corralled by plastic barriers. It simply was not an experience that they would enjoy.”
The Cleggs expressed the frustration over the installation of tarmac to adjust the pavements to road level carried out previously.
Emma explained: “When they widened the pavements on Sheep Street and elsewhere they tarmaced over the rainwater gutter outlets that run rooftops under the pavements and into the roads. When businesses pointed out what had happened, they then had to come back and spent several days with a large angle grinder type tool to remove the tarmac which they’d just laid so that the rainwater could flow freely once more into the road. They then had to cover the gulleys with yellow plastic covers so that they weren’t a tripping hazard.”
Calling the ongoing expense of the road repairs “unbelievable”, Emma said the final nail in the coffin was not being listened to when the majority of town centre businesses called for the measures to be abandoned.
She said: “Local businesses have continually raised urgent concerns over the handling of the measures and the expense but the councils – county and district - refused to listen and react. It helped us to make the decision to relocate the Stratford Gallery to Broadway.”
Even retail giant Marks and Spencer said trading had been especially difficult in the town centre. A spokesperson told the Herald: “The last year has been challenging for the whole retail industry and we know that local customers have sometimes found it more difficult to access our Bridge Street store due to pedestrian access issues and the temporary suspension of parking outside the store.”
The Herald understands that the barrier scheme is paid for by central government, although it is unclear if this includes all the subsequent tarmac work, and the county council was unable to clarify as the Herald went to press.
Cllr Jeff Clarke, portfolio holder for transport and highways, said: “The barriers are remaining on Bridge Street as these form part of the Covid-19 town centre scheme, which allows additional space for pedestrians to adhere to social distancing rules. The resurfacing works for this area to be ready for when restrictions are will be completed when the Covid-19 scheme is removed. This was agreed by the key stakeholders and elected members.”