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Concern over effect of road works

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: December 20, 2013

By Leslie Jackson

Derby Street in Leek where work is expected to start in January for almost seven months

Derby Street in Leek where work is expected to start in January for almost seven months

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FREE parking for shoppers and a reduction in business rates for traders during six months of road works in Leek have been thrown out.

However shopkeepers and stallholders are to be invited to a meeting with highway officials to discuss the work programme.

This will take place in Derby Street, and will complete the public realm works already undertaken opposite the Nicholson War Memorial.

Under urgent items of business at last week's meeting of Staffordshire Moorlands District council, leader Sybil Ralphs, said: "We have received no notification of the proposed works from the county council.

"Over the last few years this authority has had an excellent relationship on a number of projects with the county council.

"However, I cannot say the same about the county highways.

"I have now spoken to the leader of the county council and three senior officers.

"I do not want a repeat of the work at the public realm area at the bottom of Derby Street. Leek has had a horrendous time. We want our town back.

"The proposed work has been through the planning process and it has been agreed that it is completed, but I want it done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

"Following my meeting the county council will sent out invitations to traders to engage in a meeting. It will involve all shopkeeper along with indoor and outdoor market traders who will have the opportunity to work with the highways people. This could delay the start of the work, but we cannot afford another repeat of the public realm work.

"Also this authority must be involved in the project."

Leek South county councillor Charlotte Atkins said that the work could have been done in two phases.

She said: "The phases could have taken place in poorer weather when there are less visitors. If there is a delay it will go into the height of the tourist season which would be a disaster."

Councillor Pam Wood asked if the council would reduce business rates.

She said: "Traders have already suffered once, so can this council support traders over what is going to be a disruptive period."

In reply the council leader said that the authority could not reduce business rates.

Councillor john Fisher asked for the council to consider making a town centre car park available to compensate for the loss of free on-street parking during the works.

He added: "People do use on-street parking which is going to disappear. This will affect businesses."

A written reply from councillor Edwin Wain, who has the responsibility for planning, development and property said: "Providing additional free parking during the Staffordshire County Council highways work on Derby Street would place further pressure on the council's budget and is therefore not deemed feasible at this time."

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