BUSINESS owners have hit out at the authorities for not alerting them to gasworks taking place in Coombe Street.

They were left stunned when the street was closed on Monday, January 13, and have said the road closure has led to a 50 per cent fall in turnover and that they have been forced to shut after an electrical fault.

Mark Evans, owner of Tierra Kitchen in Coombe Street, said: “Turnover has halved since it began. I didn’t think the work was going to be this major and it has taken me completely by surprise. If we had known about it we could have planned for it. It has massively affected us.

“The people who are coming in are not having a good experience because of the works, which means our reputation has been damaged.

“We were forced to close halfway through service last Thursday lunchtime because there was an electrical spike which cut off the electricity, which meant we had to also cancel the bookings we had taken for Thursday night.”

Clive Cobb, owner of the Town Mill Bakery, said: “I feel invisible. My anger is because we were not consulted by anybody before the works, and they haven’t been planned properly.

“What if something goes wrong? There was an electrical spike the other day related to the gasworks, and I had to pay £700 to fix our fridges because it caused them to blow, and that’s not including the products we have had to get rid of.

“If we had known in advance, we could have talked to staff, arranged our deliveries around it, but instead my workload has increased in trying to keep the bakery open around the gasworks. The works have gone worse than I expected, and it has affected me more than I predicted. I feel really let down by the town council, because no councillors or council staff have come in to apologise for the lack of planning.

“I have heard that the council knew in November that these works were going to happen.”

Hannah Brett, spokesman for Southern Gas Networks, said: “We are committed to ensuring our works cause as little disruption as possible. We have a compensation scheme in place for local businesses which suffer a genuine loss of trade due to our works. We appreciate that roadworks can be frustrating and we would like to apologise to local traders, residents and road users for any inconvenience our works may cause. However, this is essential work to ensure a continued safe and secure gas supply.”