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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Wigton's roadworks misery to go on

Disruptive gas works that have caused traffic chaos in Wigton town centre will go on until the end of April – two months longer than originally announced.

Wigton road photo
Chamber of Trade secretary Jane Hollick

High Street was initially closed at the beginning of January as Northern Gas Networks’ £340,000 project to replace 1.4km of gas mains got underway.

It was announced that the work would be completed within eight weeks, but now the company say it will be finished by the end of April.

The first phase of work on High Street was completed 10 days ahead of schedule in February, but now King Street will be closed for six weeks.

Matty McBride, site manager for Northern Gas Networks, said: “We understand the impact that our essential work can have, particularly in small communities such as Wigton, and are doing all we can to minimise disruption to residents, motorists and business owners.

“We would like to thank everyone for their continued patience and understanding throughout this essential work and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Meanwhile a business leader has hit out at Allerdale Council and says Wigton has become a “forgotten town”.

Jane Hollick, secretary of the town’s Chamber of Trade, heavily criticised the authority’s decision to provide free parking in Cockermouth during roadworks.

Northern Gas Networks paid for free parking at Water Street car park between 8am and 5pm while the town-centre section was closed.

But during road closures in Cockermouth this month Allerdale Council themselves provided two-hour free parking at two car parks.

Mrs Hollick said: “We always have to fend for ourselves and I contacted Allerdale many times to see if they would help us. They said that because Cockermouth was undergoing major roadworks, if they helped Wigton it would set a precedent.

“I don’t feel that’s a fair argument and I really feel that they don’t care about Wigton and we are a forgotten town.”

The Cockermouth roadworks forced Cumbria County Council to close Main Street while the work takes place.

Allerdale decided to let drivers park free for two hours on Wakefield Road and Sullart Street car parks.

In response to Mrs Hollick’s complaints, an Allerdale Council spokeswoman said: “The council is working in Wigton to ensure as little disruption as possible from the current road works.

“The situation in Wigton means that although no on-street parking has been lost, the town centre manager and parking manager have worked in partnership with Northern Gas Networks to offer free parking to encourage residents to continue to do their shopping in Wigton.”

Announcing the free parking in Cockermouth, council leader Alan Smith said: “I hope this free parking will make life easier for shoppers and visitors and keep them supporting our amazing array of local businesses.”

Residents in Wigton have complained about disruption, as well as the impact displaced traffic has had on the smaller country roads used as a diversion.

Richard Mattinson, owner of the Stitch and Print shop on the High Street, said some pedestrians had been forced to dive out of the way of cars.

Anyone who has questions for Northern Gas Networks can speak to an engineer on site or contact the customer care team on 0845 634 0508.

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