Kirton High Street traders angry over impact of flood works

Angry business owners in Kirton say works to improve flooding safety which have split the village in two are starting to have a “devastating” impact after going on for far too long.

Kirton High Street, dug up.
Kirton High Street, dug up.

Lincolnshire County Council began working on High Street and Station Road in April in a bid to increase drainage capacity and create a new outfall where surface water would drain away.

However, despite originally planning to take 12 weeks, the works have only moved a short way up the street.

They have also closed off a major junction by using part of the road for storage, forcing drivers to take a long diversion out of the village up to the A16 and back to get from Station Road to London Road.

The junction of HIgh Street and Station Road closed to traffic.

Boston Borough and Kirton Parish Councillor Peter Watson has taken up the fight for businesses in his patch.

“Quite frankly, these roadworks are having a devastating effect on small businesses here.

“This has taken since April, the roadworks are basically not even 50% done and now they’ve extended this period to the end of August.

“There’s no compensation [for businesses] for however long this takes for Lincolnshire County Council to do this project which hasn’t been planned out well.”

Kirton HIgh Street.

He said materials used for the project could have been stored elsewhere in the town, allowing at least part of the road to reopen, and in a recent meeting with Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman and LCC offered the use of Kirton Town Hall land.

Paula Allen, of Paula’s Gifts, said her five-year-old business had fewer customers now compared to even while operating a click and collect service during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Now it’s worse than when we had COVID because through that we had grant money, which helped tie us over.

“[Now we’re] just reliant on the people that come in through the door. There’s no there’s no compensation. There’s no nothing, but that’s affecting all us local businesses.”

Victoria Everest, operations director of the Old Kings Head.

She said business had been fantastic prior to the lockdown and the works.

She added: “Hopefully we’ll still be trading at the end, but money is tight – I can only make whatever people bring in through the door.”

Victoria Everest, operations director of the Old Kings Head – which opened in October following massive regeneration work funded by Heritage Lincolnshire – said Kirton was “just like a ghost town at the moment”.

“People just aren’t using it, we’re getting very few customers in at the coffee shop.

Paula Allen, of Paula’s Gifts.

“We were full most days [before the works started] but now we’re lucky if we get 10-15 customers in for lunch because no-one’s coming through.”

Victoria has already had to reduce the hours her staff work because she can’t justify the numbers when “it’s really hard to judge how busy we’re going to be and the majority of the days are dead quiet”.

She added: “The first couple of weeks were okay because people didn’t realise [the road] was closed, so they were still trying to drive through and still stopping off for coffees and lunches.

“But after that, it’s just gotten quieter and quieter. We’ve lost a lot of bookings, including a couple of functions, because people just couldn’t get through to get to us.”

She said Kirton, as a route from Boston to Spalding, benefited a lot from people travelling through the town and stopping off on their way.

Sam Parker, from The Flower Shop, said his business’ takings were down 30-35% but that he wasn’t hit as bad as others because of the kind of things they offered.

No end in sight for the works on Kirton High Street?

He said businesses felt the council “wasn’t bothered” by the views of local businesses.

“Surely, someone with half-a-brain could have said right, we’ll do this top end, get that done and then open it up so we can have two way traffic lights so you’ve got flow in the village,” he said.

“They’ve stopped [the village], it’s been like that since Easter… we just had COVID for two years… how do they expect people to survive?”

A spokesperson for Lincolnshire County Council said the authority recognised that “works of this nature can cause significant disruption to residents and businesses,” adding that they had “put measures in place to try and minimise the disruption as much as possible”.

Matthew Harrison, flood and water manager at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Access to businesses has been maintained and supported signage placed in the village.

“We are exploring all possibilities to ensure these works will be completed as quickly as practicably possible, including extended working hours by the contractor.

“As part of our ongoing engagement with the parish and local businesses, we have recently discussed concerns and are exploring the best way to open up sections of the road when elements of the works have been completed, where it is safe to do so.”

He added that the county council had no power to grant compensation for financial loss incurred because of traffic restrictions for roadworks, but that they had advised businesses to seek legal advice around eligibility for compensation under the Land Compensation Act. 1973, and Business Rate Relief with their district council.

“We are committed to reducing the risk of flooding in the village of Kirton and bringing wider long-term benefits to businesses and residents,” he said.

More stories: