Nottingham

Nottingham tram extension: MP wants more help for shops

Tram works in Beeston
Image caption Traders say it only takes one bad experience of delays to stop customers returning

A plea for more help for businesses affected by work on Nottingham's new tram line has been backed by an MP.

Some firms in Beeston and Chilwell have said the disruption has lead to takings falling by as much as 75%.

A petition backed by Conservative Broxtowe MP Anna Soubry is pressing the county council to increase the size of a £2.5m hardship fund.

The authority said it was working with the city council and business groups to mitigate the affects of construction.

Before the project began, many shops, especially independent traders, had expressed concern it would put off customers.

The issue became more acute when it was revealed in December the project was running weeks behind schedule.

Image caption Shop owner Sue Feasey said they had no idea how the compensation would work

The county council confirmed on Friday it had agreed to extend the hardship fund to all businesses affected rather than just those on the tram line.

Ms Soubry said: "That's brilliant news but the trouble is that they have not put in the money, and without the money it's absolutely meaningless.

"So we are delighted we are making progress but we need a final push to get everything the businesses need."

Sue Feasey, from Rocky Riders cycle shop, said: "A conservative estimate is that custom has dropped by 50%, though someone across the road thinks it's 60%.

"We are all feeling it and we are at a stage where we don't know how we are going to carry on to the end of the works for the tram.

"News of the compensation scheme being extended is in principle good news but we still have no idea how it will work."

The county council said as well as extending the fund, it had recently secured assurances from the contractors the main works would be over by August.

Nottingham City Council said it expected to see trams running by the end of 2014, despite the delays.

The £570m extension of the city's tram network will see two new lines running from the city centre - one to Chilwell via the Queen's Medical Centre and Beeston, the other to Clifton via Wilford.

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