Gas works threaten Christmas trade in Newport

Traders in Newport City Centre are calling on the council to act after it was announced that work to replace gas mains in the town would continue through to December.

Owners of shops in Newport market and the High Street say their profits have almost halved since the work started in July.

With news that the work may continue in the lead up to Christmas, due to “unforeseen difficulties”, traders say they are at a complete loss as to what to do next.

The works are part of Wales & West Utilities’ multi million pound, 30-year replacement programme across Wales and the South West. The scheme involves replacing old metal pipes, that are within 30 metres of buildings, with highly durable, non-corroding plastic pipes.

Jonathan Powell took over The Kiosk from his father seven years ago. He says that he’s worked hard to keep his business going through the recession, but is concerned this could be the final straw.

Mr Powell says since the work started, the buses, which were taking customers straight to the High Street, have been suspended. He believes this is the main reason for his drop in profits because there aren’t as many people walking through.

Stephen Reynolds, owner of Toy Army in Newport Market, has also seen a 40 per cent decrease in his earnings. He blames the council, saying that a fine should be imposed on the gas company for every day they go over their deadline.

Newport Council says that while Wales and West Utilities estimated that it would finish in September, the official timescale it gave the council was December. Therefore, the council doesn’t yet have any powers to impose a fine.

By law, utility companies are allowed to have access to our highways to carry out urgent or essential works. Newport City Council is sympathetic to the concerns of local traders and has called on Wales and West to explore all possible options, including putting in extra resources, to ensure this scheme is completed as quickly as possible.

– Newport Council spokesperson

Newport Council says it’s now calling for a “high level meeting” between Wales and West Utility and the Chamber of Trade to see if an agreement can be reached.

The gas mains replacement in Commercial Street and High Street is essential work that will help ensure a safe and secure supply of gas to businesses and homes in the area.

– Wales and West Utilities