Trade fears over Reigate gas mains work
Major gas works are getting under way in a Surrey town centre but there are fears that traders will suffer.
Southern Gas Networks is replacing a gas mains in Reigate in a six-week project that will cost £100,000.
Duncan MacDonald, from the gas company, said the project was essential but the firm was working with the community.
Jes Chandler, chairman of Reigate Business Guild, said the firm had avoided pre-Christmas disruption but he still feared retailers would suffer.
Work has started in Bell Street, where temporary traffic lights were put up on Tuesday, and will also be carried out in Church Street and Market Square.
Mr Chandler, who runs a construction company in the town, said: "It is generally going to put people off coming into the town.
"This town gets gridlocked at the best of times. If there's an incident on the M23 or M25 this town shuts down."
Mr MacDonald said: "This work when completed should give a safe and secure gas network in the area for everyone."
He said 2,000 letters had been sent to people, including domestic residents, and representatives from the firm had visited businesses and the local chamber of commerce.
He added: "We have tried to meet people who we think will have concerns about the work we are doing and allay their fears. This is essential work but we are trying to work with the community."
In a letter to residents, the firm also said: "We have been working closely with Surrey County Council and the emergency services to plan this project in such a way as to keep disruption to residents, businesses and road-users to a minimum.
"Advance warning signs will be in place, while access to homes and businesses will be maintained."