Traders hit out over lengthy Fareham gas works

ANGER Richard Howard, owner of High Street Sweets in Fareham.  Picture: Dean Kedward (114108-1)
ANGER Richard Howard, owner of High Street Sweets in Fareham. Picture: Dean Kedward (114108-1)
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SHOPKEEPERS say trade is being damaged after seven months of work on an underground gas system.

Southern Gas started replacing the gas mains system in Fareham’s High Street in May.

Now traders say workers have been filling up their car parking spaces with mud and fear the work is driving customers away.

Richard Howard, who runs High Street Sweets, said: ‘They started work on this pipe and it has gone on for such a long time.

‘Tesco has built a new store in three months but it’s taken seven months to replace a gas pipe in the High Street.

‘They started to clear the road and we thought we were going to get our car parking spaces back but then mud started appearing in the spaces.

‘It’s having a big effect on our business and others around here too.

‘We’re not getting people calling in and buying sweets because people can’t park.’

The £200,000 gas project is due to finish in the first week of December.

Southern Gas says the work is on schedule and letters were sent out to shopkeepers warning them of the timescale of the work.

Claire Poingdestre, who owns the Hansfords fishing tackle shop in High Street, said: ‘The work has often been at a snail’s pace.

‘It has hit our trade hard and only now have they taken the mud and machinery out of the parking bays.

‘People said they can’t come in to us because they can’t park and the dirt and the noise has been putting people off.’

Southern Gas is replacing all iron pipes with new plastic ones which are longer-lasting.

Spokeswoman Laura Varney said: ‘We are mindful of the effect replacement works have on residents, businesses and motorists and we are committed to working closely with local authorities to plan our work so it causes minimum disruption.

‘Work will be finished in early December in time for the Christmas rush and we would urge the public to bear with us while we upgrade the gas mains system for the better.’

The company says business owners can apply for compensation if they have lost business as a result of the disruption by visiting sgn.co.uk.