Ladywell roadworks delays putting local businesses at risk

El, from Ladywell deli El's Kitchen writes in response to the severe delays to roadworks currently affecting Ladywell town centre:

Myself and a small group of business owners in Ladywell are having a meeting with the Deputy Major (Cllr Allan Smith) and Ian Ransom (Head of Transport) tomorrow (Friday). We will be representing all businesses in Ladywell that have been directly or indirectly affected by the delays to the project.

In principle we are all in favour of the improvements to the streetscape improvements as the benefits it will bring to pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers who wish to park, as well as to the businesses, are great.

However, in the original document that was issued publically in March, the date for re-opening Ladywell Road was set at 7 June. Since then we have had no official communication about when that might be until this latest communication which states the road will re-open mid-October. Many of us cannot see how it will be possible for the contractors to meet this new deadline as they have still not finished the highway works on section 2, which has been closed for the best part of three months, and they have only just started digging up section 3.

The delays to this project are now starting to bite into many businesses budgets with some having already laid off staff to try and keep costs down while trying to ride out the loss of trade as long as they can. Footfall was down 16% in August and remains so for the beginning of September (I have been counting and documenting this, comparing it to the same time last year).

We are now taking legal advice and will determine,based on the outcome of the meeting tomorrow, if we have a claim against Lewisham Council for loss of business due to the delays. In order to make a claim we need to be in possession of the original schedule or works and the current schedule of works completed to date and the service level agreement with the contractor (Conway) detailing the penalty clauses. We can then make a claim against the Council for any money that has been and will be recovered by the Council from Conway as it should be used to compensate those who have lost out as a result of the delays (the local businesses, not the Council), as per the penalty clauses in the contract.

If the works continue past the end of October and the footfall remains as low as it is now it will be very difficult for many of the business to continue trading and those that rely on Christmas trade to survive the rest of the year will be teetering on the edge by January.

As business owners we all want to see a positive outcome from the works having taken place: the loss of trade being more than compensated for by increased footfall in Ladywell, on-street parking to enable passing motorists to stop and use the shops, a brighter and lighter landscape with more trees and benches that draws people in to the area and makes them want to stay here.

In the meantime we implore local people to continue to use Ladywell, visit the shops and spend the money you used to spend here. We understand that it is very noisy, dusty and dirty and highly inconvenient without public transport or parking (we have live with it day in, day out!), but without continued loyalty from our customers and a bit of risk-taking from potential customers in the wider area, the aims and objectives of the improvements to the streetscape to improve the economic viability of the retail area will have been in vain.
Many thanks for the loyalty you have shown us thus far.

El @ Els Kitchen, on behalf of the businesses in Ladywell.


Chris Wheal said...

I walked through today on the way to the hospital and back. I wanted a loaf from the bakery and risked my life trying to cross from the station entrance and get back in through the fencing. I had planned to go to El's but decided not to bother (sorry).

There were a few workmen about but not many and not doing much (one was getting a sandwich out of his Conway van - this was 11.30am).

It's all very well to say go to Ladywell and support the shops but actually, dug up and with confusing pedestrian routes it is not a nice place. I walked over some cobbles that were not secure and moved under my feet today. It's not just ugly - it is dangerous.

I came through the other day and mentioned to my wife that the chip shop had no customers - we have started going to Brockley for fish and chips instead - clearly others have too.

It is a disgrace that the council has let it slip. The council or Conway must compensate the businesses there.

Alex Margolies said...

They should have been paid a block sum for the work, not per day; then if they finished earlier, but to a high standard it would've been of benefit to them. There are far too many workman lazing around doing nothing...

Dave said...

Isn't it odd that whenever things go wrong or there are delays or cockups ,the guys doing the work that get blamed , and management are blameless !

sophie bindloss said...

I agree. The workmen don't seem to be hard at it at all. And I would say their bosses are absolutely to blame if they encourage that kind of work ethic! I think it's disgraceful that in this economic climate a business like Conway is allowed to drag its feet, putting smaller businesses at risk. Sure there may well have been unforeseen problems which have caused the delays but they should be making up for lost time by having more manpower on site. And once the days get shorter and the weather more inclement, that will only cause more delay. They really should speedily finish the section that ends just after Malyons Road and reopen that. They should also finish the area in front of Gillian Street on Algernon Road. That way there will be access for most of the businesses affected and it might encourage residents a bit further afield to drive over and shop here again. I love living here and couldn't do without my local shops in Ladywell and would hate to see them fold due to others' incompetence in this particularly challenging economic climate.

Kirbfunk said...

Read the blog 'All's not well in Ladywell' :-) x

Bradycath said...

I think it's come they managed to finish all the paving around their precious Glass Mill so quickly???
I am thoroughly fed up with the whole thing, it has totally ruined our entire Summer,( which just happened to be the best for years) The noise in the morning EVERY day, the filth all over my house inside and out, the shouting of workmen at 7am as they rev up their tractors, the parking, the extra petrol and time needed to get to my house, the rude foreman, the workmen caught pissing outside my house into the gutter in the middle of the afternoon ( more than once).....yes, and lots more. The roads will not be safer, they are narrower than before, there will not be a safe place to cross at Ladywell Rd junction, the single parking space at the bottom of Vicars Hill causes buses and other traffic to go on the otherside of the road already. There will be accidents.
As for our local businesses, it is a total disgrace what has happened to them, they deserve proper compensation for their loss of income from the council. Good luck to them with the negotiations, will support them all the way.
Sorry rant over!!

T said...

This is a disgrace, 10% discount in rates for local businesses is a stingy amount considering how long this has taken. Typical scenario when I walk past the building site is one man working hard and 5 lads standing around eating and chatting. No urgency whatsoever. If this was a private sector company commissioning the job they would have negotiated severe penalties for not finishing on time. The Council however just seems to be totally slack and lazy to allow this to go on and on. Sure there may have been some issues to slightly delay the project as there always are but they should be working doubly as hard to get it finished.

I live on Malyons road we are getting building works done which has relied on deliveries arriving, because of the road closure vans and lorries have not been able to get down Malyons terrace so delivery drivers have either said there was nobody in when they tried to deliver or have had to carry items from slagrove place.

I wish El et al the best of luck in trying to get something out of the Council/ Conway.

Alex Margolies said...

I know it sounds like I'm blaming the workmen, but think that it comes from up above - management (who never seem to be there) and bosses of the company. They have no reason to finish quicker and think public sector contract so license to print money so don't finish quicker. There should be rewards for finishing the job well and quickly, penalties for over-running (massively).

Monkeyboy said...

It can be done (see NEC type C

Note, that isn't a fixed price contract that can actually cost more.

Depends on the small print, doesn't look like there was a costly time limit placed on this if the over run is as much as it appears.

Alex Margolies said...

I feel that this is what councils should be doing in their contracts - don't get bad service from contractors who over-run while suffering no penalties; they wouldn't accept this kind of attitude or performance in the private sector so why should we?

Tim said...

Employees urinating in the street is absolutely disgraceful and there should be major penalties for Conway for that alone.

It's just a total farce, and the best way to deal with it is to vote for someone other than the incumbent councillors.

Monkeyboy said...

Should just say that the public sector do use these types of contracts, the examples in the link were public sector let contracts. No idea what the terms are for the works at ladywell, it's a poor show and let's not forget the prime culprit is a private company.

I'm uncomfortable at the oft made assumption that private=good public=bad. I've worked in and with both, it's not a defining difference.

Alex Margolies said...

I think that these type of contracts aren't used enough by the public sector however. I'm certainly not saying that private=good and public=bad, I'm saying that if the private sector would not accept this type of delays, and if they did not happen they would penalise then why should we accept that public money be wasted.

Honest Local Trader said...

This is part of Herr Brockley Nick's plan to break Ladywell and force a submission into the yolk of Greater Brockley.
You can prise Ladywell from my cold dead hands Nicky.

Eyes & Ears said...

Hello RB. Thought you'd turn up.

guesty said...

Is there anything additional the businesses affected could do to lure people in inspite of the mess & noise.

Disgruntled said...

The Council have failed spectacularly on this one, but I personally think a share of the blame ought to be borne by the Improvement Group seeing as they pushed this harebrained vanity project through in the first place. I'm convinced the road will now be too narrow for the volume of traffic through there at rush hour.

Apey said...

Is it possible that the new parking restrictions on Ellerdale and surrounding streets are part of the problem? I don't go in to ladywell as much as I used to because it's impossible to park nearby, and I can't see that one or two extra spaces are going to make much difference. The thinking was very disjointed- let's restrict parking all day to deter commuters, and then spend money on trying to make ladywell a 'destination'. I don't see why they couldn't have parking restrictions for a few hours (say 7am until 10am) to stop the commuters but enabling shoppers and others to park while they visit the local amenities later in the day..

Neilgadhok said...

The level of mismanagement of the contract by Lewisham Council is staggering. Where is the performance management of the contractors?

Algernonian said...

I got a letter from Lewisham Council explaining the situation at the end of last week. It said the contractors would be working weekends and bank holidays to make up the time. I saw absolutely zero evidence of any work taking place this weekend. The letter was also attributed to someone at TfL, who have had absolutely no part in this fiasco, other than contributing some money to pay for it. Ridiculous. Conway should be struck off Lewisham council's supplier register for this balls up (and all the others!) I have nearly been run over by buses and vans whilst trying to cross the road on numerous occasions. They now fly round the corner from Ladywell Road into Algernon Road and vice versa as they don't need to stop for the junction. It's not clear where the pedestrian thoroughfare is supposed to be. It's incredibly dangerous and I would not be surprised if someone gets seriously injured or worse in the coming weeks.

Mury said...

What has someone eating their lunch at 11.30am got to do with you or this? If you started work around 7am you might be hungry by then.
I think we can safely assume you start work at 9 am (or after...) so it'd be like you eating your lunch at 1.30pm.
You also didn't risk your life to buy a loaf of bread. You've chosen not to use the deli for some reason that's not connected to survival. And why are you really going to a different chippy?

Monkeyboy said...

Bang on time for brunch, we need to establish the filling. Were there any rocket leaves in there?

El @ El's Kitchen said...

A quick update on the outcome of our meeting with the Deputy Mayor of Lewisham - Ian Smith, LBL Chief Engineer, LBL Head of Transport and Tom Connell from Conway on Friday 13th October:
- Conway have a three year, rolling retainer contract with Lewisham Council to carry out new highways work and any maintenance required under a certain job value (approx £1m). They were awarded this job without needing to tender for it and there are no penalties for delays or poor quality work (they just have to re-do the work at their expense). The budget for the work was £700,000 and they have been paid approx £600,000 to date. They are paid in stages by the size of the area they complete so there is effectively no incentive at all for them to meet any timescale given to them.
- The Deputy Mayor expressed his concern with the level of mis-management and poor decision-making by Conway and had witnessed some of the lack of urgency for himself. It was ironic that he was 10 minutes late for the meeting, blaming traffic congestion in Catford due to the diversions away from Ladywell Road.
- The Deputy Mayor was shocked by the level of negative impact that the delays are having on local businesses and urged Conway to meet the new date for Ladywell Road to be re-opened of mid-October.
- Conway promised to give us an on-site point of contact that any member of the public may speak to. This is Mick Malloney and he has now been introduced to the majority of business owners.
- Conway promised to give us a detailed program of site works with timelines that traders can share with their customers. The first of these was produced on Thursday last week and shows a daily schedule of where works are being carried out to the road and pavements for the next week. They will also post this somewhere on the site for the public to access. We hope Conway will continue to gives us a weekly update going forward.
Since our meeting, work appears to be progressing a quite a pace, with many more workers on site daily and activity continuing on Saturdays and Sundays, so this is a great result. The stretch of Ladywell Road from the junction with Algernon Road to Malyons Road has been re-opened for access to Malyons Road and many of the unsightly and confusing barriers have now been removed from this area. The workmen have also cleared away much of the rubbish and unnecessary materials from the site, making it much easier, safer and cleaner for pedestrians to circulate.
However, low footfall is still an issue for all the shopkeepers in Ladywell and we urge you to come down and visit the shops while the construction work is being completed, as it would be very sad to see any of us go out of business due to continued, unsustainable losses.

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