Angry Hucknall traders hit by ongoing road works have dismissed ‘goodwill gesture’ payments of £500 as ‘insulting’ and ‘peanuts.’
Western Power Distribution has offered ‘interim payments’ to a number of businesses affected over the last four weeks by the installation of electricity cables on Annesley Road.
But smaller independent companies fear they could be irreparably damaged if the works over-run.
Karl Thompson, owner of the Little Gift shop, said: “If I am averaging £350 a day, then their offer is a complete and utter insult. I was getting about 50 customers through the door - after they started I was getting one. They are trying to fob us off. It is peanuts.”
Kath Coultas, of Hucknall Home Improvements Centre, said: “It certainly doesn’t cover our losses. All the traders are saying the same thing. We were led to believe we could make a further claim. But we have been told that Western Power aren’t legally obliged to pay anything. But we will be negotiating with them.”
Melanie Fox, who runs Betta Bodies Gym, said: “£500 doesn’t even cover rent for a month, let alone electricity, water and equipment maintenance. We have seen a big drop in passing trade.
“It’s also about the knock-on effect. Everybody here gets on really well. But people are creatures of habit. Once they go somewhere else three or four times, people tend to stay there.
“It’s a worry for everyone on the street. We can’t afford to get a solicitor. The independents don’t stand a chance in this economy when something like this hits.”
Western Power refused to comment on the subject of compensation, but sent some traders a letter informing them the company had taken ‘legal advice’ and did not believe they ‘legally have to compensate businesses for loss of trade’.
It said: “However we have decided to look at these claims on a claim by claim basis to see if there is something we can do as we understand that this work has reduced the number of people using the High Street.”
Businesses will have to provide evidence for the profit made during the duration of the work against the profit made in the same period on the previous couple of years.
Some new businesses were offered an advertisement in a local publication.
Coun John Wilkinson, who represents Hucknall at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “The independent businesses need help now. They are having to deal with a massive loss in revenue but bills still have to be paid.”
The roadworks, which began on 26th July, were meant to have reached Baker Street by 22nd August, but by yesterday, contractors had only reached Magdalene Way - three quarters of the way.
One trader said the delays were caused because the contractors had to dig down 5ft by hand to avoid service pipes after hitting a solid sandstone bedrock.
A spokesperson for Western Power said: “They are pulling out all of the stops with the aim of completing this section by the end of the week. If anything changes then this will be communicated.”