Ripon businesses blighted by start of eight-week Market Place roadworks

Roadworks in Ripon (s)

Roadworks in Ripon (s)

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Businesses in Ripon city centre are reporting a drop in footfall of up to 70 per cent following the start of eight weeks of roadworks.

North Yorkshire County Council is currently repairing the blockwork carriageway along Queen Street, within Ripon Market Place East, from the Moss Arcade junction to the junction with Kirkgate.

However, businesses say they are now suffering as a result, with footfall down and a lack of parking spaces available to visitors.

Stephen Craggs, owner of G. Craggs on Moss Arcade, believes the visitors are now discouraged to shop in Ripon which is putting businesses in jeoprady.

He said: “There has been no talk about how these roadworks will impact the businesses. We have a footfall indicator that is 70 per cent down on the same time last year.

“Businesses in the city are finding life very difficult at the moment. People are driving straight through Ripon and out the other side.

“Retailers and restaurants are the ones suffering most, reporting 20 to 30 per cent losses so we want to see the work being completed earlier than expected.

“If you’ve got a business that operates on a five per cent net profit a year and there’s roadworks for 15 per cent of the year it doesn’t take a genius to realise some of the businesses will be in jeporady.”

Mr Craggs also complained that the car parking situation had been exacerbated by taxis parking on the Market Place with their rank part of construction.

A consultation had orginially planned to relocate the rank to the south side of the Market Place but Coun Peter Horton (Ind) explained that this idea proved too expensive.

He said: “Harrogate Borough Council said if we were to move the rank we would need to pay a licensing fee as well as take out £5m of public liability insurance.

“There was no way we could afford that. I agree that this work has been damaging for businesses as, going around the city centre, trade and footfall does seem to be slowing down.”

Other businesses in the city centre have called on the contractors to work evenings and weekends to ease the problem, as well as improving the signage around the city.

Liz Guest, owner of Big Bites on Market Place West said: “The signage is so bad, especially for the market square. It’s empty all day as people don’t realise they can park there.

“Also, the ‘road ahead closed’ signs at North Bridge would make any visitor to the city think they can’t get into into town at all.”

Gaynor Gray, owner of Gray Finch on Kirkgate, said she was considering moving her business to Harrogate while Liz Richards, owner of Castaway Home and Garden on Fishergate, argued independent traders were bearing the brunt of the situation.

She said: “People are just not coming into Ripon and the ones that are aren’t staying long because it’s so difficult to get round.

“Why on earth was this allowed to happen particularly for 8 weeks at the start of what should be the busiest time of year for us?”

NYCC confirmed the contractors are working to schedue but said they would introduce evening and weekend working if there was a risk the works would overrun.

A spokesperson for NYCC said: “The county council consulted widely with stakeholders and is undertaking these extensive works at the most suitable time – through September and October, after the busy summer holiday period and before the Ripon Parade in November.

“The county council is sorry for any inconvenience to traders and is doing everything possible to maintain access to properties and businesses and keep disruption to a minimum.”