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.