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Mixed opinions from traders as main road reopens
TRADERS have given a mixed reaction after one of Old Town ’s busiest roads was reopened today after being shut for sewer repairs – with some reporting that trade had actually risen over the week.
Victoria Road was blocked off at its junction with Stanley Street last Monday, to enable Thames Water’s contractor, Capagh Group, to carry out work to repair a portion of collapsed sewer. Motorists were able to drive up to the cordon on either side, but were not allowed to get past.
However, there was condemnation from Wiltshire Police and Swindon Council after a video, published on YouTube, showed a stream of cars driving on the pavement to get around the closure.
Despite initial fears that all businesses in Victoria Road would lose trade due to the closure, as the signs and equipment were removed, it transpired that at least some had seen an increase in trade, possibly due to more people walking past.
Ann Farthing, the owner of Penny Farthing Antiques, said: “I was a bit dubious about it being closing down for the simple reason that I thought I was going to lose custom.
“All the people that were doing the work came in and explained what was going to happen and they were very, very nice people, and very helpful.
“But with the road being closed down, funnily enough, I got more custom than I have had in quite while because people walking down to town rather than driving past.
“It’s like a rat run when they go by in cars, they go so quickly they don’t see the shop doors.”
Ann said she was appalled at motorists moving barriers and driving on the pavement to get past. “It’s dangerous,” she said. “What if there had been a person walking on the path towards them? Or a child?”
The trade situation was the reverse further up the hill, at the Wiltshire Rod and Gun Ltd, where co-owner Cindy Boundy said trade last week had dropped by up to 25 per cent, but she hoped that it would now pick up following the removal of the barriers.
She said: “We did have people who did persevere and said ‘I’ve had a terrible time getting to you, but I’ve persevered because my boy wanted his pellets’. But that’s only a percentage of people, there would have been some people who wouldn’t be bothered.”
Coun Stan Pajak (Lib Dem, Eastcott) also welcomed the re-opening. “It’s a big help because a lot of the cars were all being forced to go around to Drove Road, so that will help a great deal with the delays that are happening in the town centre,” he said.
Thamesdown Transport yesterday reinstated the buses services in Victoria Road, which had been diverted due to the closure.