TRADERS in Ringwood are still struggling with the “massive impact” of the A31 roadworks as the multi-million-pound project reaches its halfway mark.
As the first section of bridge was removed and hoisted high above the A31, retailers breathed a sigh of relief at the progress made – while also gritting their teeth ahead of at least five more months of work.
The A31 at Ringwood closed several times during a three-day period from Tuesday, May 17, to Friday 20 for the safe demolition of the western section of the River Avon bridge.
In November last year, while the work was in its infancy, Jude Karelus of The Fish Inn pub said the project had cut off all passing trade.
The Fish Inn is located a matter of metres away from the A31 and has endured loss of trade since March last year when improvement works in West Street, just off the High Street, began. These works completed in August, only for the A31 redevelopment to start the next month.
General manager Jude said: “Since the works started all access to our pub from the main road has been cut off meaning all of our passing trade has been lost.
“Visitors can still easily access The Fish Inn via West Street, Ringwood so hopefully they’ll find their way to us. We’re still very much open.”
According to a spokesperson for Butcombe Pubs & Inns, which operates The Fish Inn, any claims for compensation due to loss of income from the works were rejected by National Highways.
In March, electronics store Ringwood Sound & Vision left the high street for a new industrial unit with owner Steve Kelly describing the roadworks as a contributing factor.
However, the success of the launch day for the new Sweaty Betty shop in the Furlong – for which people travelled as far as Wimborne – was given as an example by town mayor Tony Ring of how the town could still attract visitors despite the works.
In response to the situation, the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership is working with Ringwood Business Association to run an event on June 10 at the Greyfriars Community Centre for businesses in the area “who have been negatively impacted by the roadworks and the subsequent congestion on the A31”.
It is also understood the Ringwood Business Association has written to the Department for Transport seeking compensation.
The event is to be held from 9.45am to 5pm and will welcome industry experts to provide business advice and signpost additional support.
The A31 roadworks are set to be completed in November.