Roadworks a ‘total disaster’

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VITAL road repairs to Linlithgow High Street were slammed as a “total disaster” this week as council officers had to apologise for mistakes and delays.

Council officers apologised to locals at a meeting on Wednesday admitting the work to repair street setts “had not gone to plan”. The original timetable was to complete work to the west of the Cross on Sunday, May 6, and Monday, May 7, with a road closure, in phase one. The rest of the repairs were planned for May 8-14, excluding May 12, in phase two to four, including the east of the Cross.

But this week only the roadworks undertaken by council workers to the west of the Cross were finished, with phase three and four to the east of the Cross postponed.

George Wilson of Wilson’s newsagents said: “It’s a total disaster - I’ve lost hundreds of pounds, and we won’t be getting any compensation. I’ve been trading here for 50 years and it’s bad enough in a recession as it is. Now they’re telling us it could be September that they start up again.

“With the trams in Edinburgh, many people have gone out of business. I know the work has got to be done but this has been an absolute nightmare.”

Sheena Mitchell at the Coffee Neuk said in the first weekend, her trade halved and last Sunday no customers came in after 3pm.

She said: “The place is dead - Sunday was the worst day I’ve had in 15 years. I’ve had a lot of negative customer feedback. The council have let us down - the worst day to do this work for us is Sunday and a bank holiday Monday. These days make up for the quiet days we have through the year.”

Jim Walker at Walker Carpets said that what traders were told and what happened over the past few weekends didn’t match up. They were told working hours would be 7am-10pm on Monday-Saturday and 8am-10pm on Sunday.

Jim added: “It’s lucky if the workers were doing 9-3pm - they have achieved very little, and it’s been a waste of time and money. The whole thing has not been properly organised.”

Jim contacted the council about road signs as it was not clear the Cross was open, but he was told it would take three weeks for them to come, adding: “You can order signs on the internet in 48 hours. The only signs that were up said ‘Road Closed’. These little things make a massive difference-no attempt was made to accommodate the people in the street. This job needs a specialist contractor - the council have paid lip service to us, and then just did what they wanted.”

This week the council apologised for not putting up a road sign stating the Cross was open.

A council spokesman admitted they hadn’t done their homework adding: “The unusual nature of this work and the materials involved led to research and off-site demonstrations being carried out prior to work starting. Unfortunately this does not always give the full picture of on-site conditions, which have contributed to the current delays.”

He added that other delaying factors included heavy rainfall, a design flaw in the previous roadbase undiscovered until work started and a new type of high-strength superior mortar. Council officers said they will consult with traders on when the work will be completed, and an internal investigation has started.