City retailers demand compo for roadworks

REBECCA STEVENSON
Retailers hit in the pocket due to disruption from the Dickens Street upgrade are seeking compensation from Napier City Council.
Reconstruction began in April, with contractors resealing the street and footpaths and upgrading stormwater and wastewater mains. The $2.2 million revamp has seen the street dug up for months.
Retailers say they have had enough, with slow sales and shoppers unsure whether Dickens Street is open. Last week they wrote to the council asking it to take the issue seriously and compensate them with cash.
Harrisons Cafe owner Margot McLennan said her turnover was down up to 40 per cent since the roadworks began and the financial loss was too big to recover from this year.
"It has been huge. I wouldn't like to put a dollar figure on it," she said, adding she feared there wouldn't be a rebound in business.
"In the meantime [customers] have chosen somewhere else. There's no guarantee they will return."
First Mobile manager Katrina Gillespie said her numbers were even worse than that of the cafe.
"Foot traffic is down at least 50 to 60 per cent."
Uneven footpaths and roadworks were also a hazard for those who did brave Dickens Street, Ms Gillespie said.
"We are on commission and are really feeling it." She said the project had been drawn out with ongoing mess and frustration.
Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott said she sympathised but ruled out a financial settlement. The council had been disappointed at the extent Dickens Street had been affected by the contractor, she said. The contractor had not met expectations though the project was running to schedule.
A request to the council for free two-hour parking in the worst areas of Dickens Street was approved.

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