By Andy Hirst

Fears are growing that businesses may close down after it was revealed that roadworks which have snarled Slaithwaite up since September may now not be finished until next year.

Yorkshire Water has promised to remove the roadworks on the village’s main road by the end of November but admit the work may not be finished by then so they could be back in the New Year to dig the road up again.

And the devastating news is piling on the misery for many shop owners on Britannia Road and elsewhere in Slaithwaite who have already lost many thousands of pounds in trade.

Anne Newsome, who owns SOS Interiors and Gifts on Britannia Road, says she’ll be seeing her accountant on Monday to decide if it’s viable to try to carry on trading.

She has received some compensation from Yorkshire Water but described it as “minimal” and “hadn’t touched the sides” when it came to replacing lost takings.

She said: “I opened in October 2019 and it’s been a nightmare almost ever since. I thought Covid was bad but the roadworks are destroying my business.

“I’ve cut my hours and days because I can’t afford to pay anyone to keep my doors open in the hope we get walk-ins. I know I’m not on my own either. I’m seriously considering closing. The businesses of Slaithwaite need help like never before.”

Yorkshire Water roadworks outside SOS Interiors and Gifts on Britannia Road in Slaithwaite. Pic by: Andy Hirst

Anne fears the roadworks may also be putting lives in danger – the village has its own fire station.

She said: “Last week I watched the fire engine struggle to get through and was panicked by the thought of a loved one in need of the emergency services.”

The work to lay a new mains water pipe has been a catalogue of disaster, hitting problem after problem including important spare parts in short supply. There was also a long delay after the original contractor ceased trading and Yorkshire Water had to find another one to continue the work.

The roadworks are causing massive disruption through the village every day and have had a huge impact on businesses there.

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Yorkshire Water is liaising with the businesses to pay compensation but traders fear this won’t be anywhere near to covering the money they have lost.

Janet Broscombe, who owns Lily of the Valley florists, said: “People are very worried about their businesses and it may be some of them go under. They are losing a lot of money every week with takings down as much 30%, 40% and even 50%. They are just not getting the passing trade. People are now avoiding Slaithwaite.”

Traffic is constantly queuing at the temporary traffic lights but at peak periods it has been backing right up and along Manchester Road.

Janet Broscombe at work in her shop Lily of the Valley florists on Britannia Road in Slaithwaite. Pic by: Andy Hirst

Janet said fresh flowers now cost far more because of Brexit and it would be tempting for her to just put a sign on her door saying ‘closed until the roadworks have gone’ but if she didn’t open as normal she wouldn’t be eligible for any compensation.

She said: “Yorkshire Water is now dealing with accountants for the businesses and want to see the accounts for the last three years – the time when many were closed because of the pandemic. The compensation should be for what we’ve lost in takings but it won’t be. I’m certainly not holding my breath.

“I’m still having to pay all my bills but with far fewer people coming into the shop. Many of my customers are passing trade but who is coming into Slaithwaite now?

“I don’t know how Yorkshire Water has been able to get away with it for so long but no-one seems to care. I feel at the moment I’m taking one step forwards and going three back.”

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Meanwhile, a call has gone out for people to brave the roadworks to throw the shops a much-needed lifeline.

Tim Szoradi, who runs the Waterside Salon, said: “Please think about all the local small businesses in the village who are suffering in many ways.

“As a business owner in the village I have seen footfall drop dramatically in Slaithwaite since the start of the roadworks. This is having an adverse affect on all of the business owners as people are avoiding coming to the village now.

“Please can we all ask that you persevere with us and continue to shop local, as much of a pain as it is? We don’t want to lose businesses due to this. We all rely on customers to keep going. Without them we will no longer be able to trade.”

Highly disruptive Yorkshire Water roadworks on Britannia Road in Slaithwaite. Pic by: Andy Hirst

A Yorkshire Water spokesperson confirmed the new pipes may now not be laid until after Christmas.

She said: “We’ve been in regular contact with customers and local businesses to update on progress of the works on Britannia Road. We know the works have caused disruption and would like to apologise to any businesses that have been affected. Please contact our customer liaison team to discuss compensation, if you haven’t already.

“Our teams have been working hard day and night to try and complete the work but engineering difficulties, supply chain delays and the need to work around other utilities has meant that it’s taking slightly longer than we would like.

“We have agreed with Kirklees Council that we will remove the works at the end of November to allow easier access over the Christmas period although we may have to return and complete the work in the New Year.”

READ MORE: More Slaithwaite stories can be found in our archive HERE

Meanwhile, it was also revealed that a road closure at Crimble Clough from Slaithwaite to Scapegoat Hill – which caused lengthy detours last week – had been needed for emergency water pipe repairs by Yorkshire Water. The road re-opened on Friday night.

* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.