Tuesday, 01 December 2015

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Longer working days in bid to complete town centre scheme more quickly

Workers carrying out road improvements are upping their hours in an attempt to get Cockermouth town centre reopened as quickly as possible.

Cars aren’t expected to be allowed along Main Street until August as work continues on a £1.7m improvement project to help protect the town from flooding.

Traders are desperately reminding shoppers that the town remains open for business, but concerns are emerging about businesses being severely affected, despite pedestrian access being kept open.

Now, in an effort to ease any pain they might suffer, Cumbria County Council, which is behind the highways improvement scheme, says contractors are stepping up a gear.

Their working day is being extended by two hours every day from Monday until Thursday, when they’ll be on site from 8am until 7pm. They’ll work from 8am until 5pm on Fridays.

A county council spokesman said it was hoped that the 11-hour days would “help accelerate the working programme”. The chances of seven-day working to potentially bring forward the scheduled August completion date is also being explored.

Councillor Keith Little, the authority’s cabinet member responsible for highways, added: “I appreciate the disruption this major work is having on the town and we apologise for the inconvenience. We’re pulling out all the stops to see how we can help further.

“The long-term benefits this work will bring speak for themselves, but what I don’t want to see is businesses going under in the short term. They need all our support, so please make the effort to visit the town and do some shopping.”

Diversions are in place.

Phase one of the scheme, which is currently underway, has meant the closure of Main Street between Sullart and Station streets. The work involves improving the surface water drainage system and fitting larger diameter drains to boost flood protection work.

The council is taking the chance to improve the road, paths and street lighting.

A second phase of work, from High Sand Lane to Cocker Bridge, is planned to start in May when that section of road will close.

Mr Little hopes people will go out of their way to support businesses in Cockermouth while the roadworks continue – in the same way they did in the wake of the 2009 floods that devastated the town.

He added: “When the floods came in 2009, we saw a magnificent response from the Cumbrian public, with people going out of their way to support shops and to ensure money was still coming into the town.

“The money that we are now investing in improving the town’s drainage systems came from the Government directly because of the 2009 floods. I’m urging people to once again make the extra effort to support local traders in the town and help them in their hour of need.”

Andy Walsh, of Cockermouth Chamber of Trade, acknowledged that the work has to be done.

He added: “Cockermouth is still very much open. The traders are very determined that it shouldn’t affect us too much.”


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