BRIDGWATER businesses say ‘inconsiderate parking’ by contractors working to restore a pub in the town centre is damaging trade at that end of the High Street.

Business owners James Clayton of the High Street Barber Shop, Tim Grimes of Tim’s Cameras, and Julie-Ann Cartwright of Inspirational Craft have spoken out after five weeks of problems with contractors working on The Duke pub site.

The site was purchased in July by national pub chain Amber Taverns, and contractors are now renovating the site with a view to the new venue opening in early November.

However the existing businesses along that stretch say the last month or so since work started has been ‘a nightmare’.

Barber James Clayton said: “The vans are parking along here blocking the spaces usually used by our customers.

“When I’ve raised the issue Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, the NSL parking contractor and Highways, they have all basically passed it on.

“Even if the traffic warden does give out a ticket, the builders still leave their vans there for the rest of the day.

“It has meant business has been really, really quiet.

“I have had some customers come in frustrated saying they have had to do laps of the town or park a long distance away.

“What can be even more costly is if a person is faced with not being able to park they may opt to go to a different hairdresser.

“The authorities just seem really vague on what the rules are and how to enforce them.

“We need them to be towed away if they are deliberately blocking the spaces.

“We welcome new investment into the town but it shouldn’t be at the cost of existing businesses.”

Tim Grimes from Tim’s Cameras added: “If it had just been for one or two weeks we might have been able to grit our teeth and put up with it, but it has been going on some time now.

“If they had told us more in advance it might have been a little easier to take, but frankly they are taking advantage and it has not gone down well with the businesses here.”

Julie-Ann Cartwright of Inspirational Craft said her elderly customers were being put off coming in as they could not park and it was damaging trade ahead of carnival.

But one of the contractors working on the site said: “We have a permit for the skip, and if the traffic wardens want to book us they have the right to do so. 

“We are doing our jobs and will be gone soon. 

“The businesses along this road will benefit from having a brand new pub here rather than an empty building.”

However Gary Roberts, operations manager for Amber Taverns responded saying the company would be addressing the matter.

Mr Roberts said; “Thank you for bringing the issue to our attention and I agree with our neighbours it isn’t acceptable.

“We do encourage all our contractors and their sub-contractors to work and act responsibly when refurbishing our pubs.

“They are the first ambassadors for Amber Taverns when we arrive in a new town.

“We have raised the issue with the main contractor and the design team and requested that they address the issue.”

Amber Taverns have been having a positive impact elsewhere in the town, sponsoring the squibbing display at this year’s Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival.

Mr Roberts continued: “As a new company to Bridgwater we are delighted to support the Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival and become involved in the local community, and we wish the carnival every success.

“With The Duke, Amber Taverns will be offering a unique customer experience for everyone who visits, and as the pub is opening the day before the carnival, we are really hoping for a bumper weekend, both for the carnival celebrations and for the pub.”