ANGRY traders who say business has slumped during major gas main replacement work are demanding compensation.
Utility giant National Grid is replacing all the gas mains along the A51 in Boughton and those in Tarvin Road and Christleton Road.
Work began in April and was meant to finish by the end of this month but last week it emerged the project was behind schedule and would not finish until October 10 at the earliest.
Lane closures and multi-way traffic signals have resulted in traffic chaos along the route and traders say they are losing customers because of the work.
Avril Davies, who owns Meadow Fresh dry cleaners, claims trade is down by about 50 per cent.
She said: “It has been a nightmare. All we have got left now is the people who live near enough to walk here.
“Some of our regular customers have disappeared because they are just avoiding the whole area because it is chaos.
“We opened this branch 12 months ago and things were going really well before this but the roadworks were right outside our shop and people could not even see we were here.
“Trade has fallen by 50 per cent since it started and I cannot believe other businesses are not in the same position.”
Mrs Davies has also been disappointed by the lack of communication from National Grid about the work and fears the disruption could continue for months.
She said: “We were told it would start in January and then we turned up to work one day and saw the road was being dug up. We were gobsmacked.
“They are going to be working on the side roads next and we are worried things are not going to improve until next March.
“We are trying to expand our businesses and this is not helping. We have not heard anything about compensation but they have to offer us something.”
Outdated metal gas mains across the city are being replaced with new plastic pipes as part of National Grid’s £3.6 million renewal scheme.
The company said the project was behind schedule due to historic infrastructure along the route and unseasonable weather conditions but extra engineers had been brought in with work being carried out seven days a week.
National Grid spokesman Jeanette Unsworth said the work was essential and once it has been completed no further works will be needed for another 70 years.
She said: “We apologise for the inconvenience caused during these essential works and to businesses that have been affected.
“The work has taken long than expected as a result of the unforeseen difficulties we have encountered.
“We have been communicating with traders and we do have a compensation scheme allowing traders to submit claims for losses they have incurred as a result of these essential works.”
See full story in the Chester Leader