Roadworks 'chaos' for Caerphilly businesses
Advice to "stay away" from one of the busiest roundabouts in Caerphilly suggests the town is "closed for business," local traders have said.
Business owners, who employ 5,000 staff in the area, have sent an open letter to Caerphilly council about the Pwll-y-Pant roundabout roadworks "chaos".
They warn businesses face closure if the 12-month project on the Caerphilly to Ystrad Mynach road is not changed.
Caerphilly council said it is talking to traders to "mitigate" impact.
The joint letter from 39 Caerphilly business leaders expresses their "gravest concerns" about the project and are calling for action as they claim they are experiencing losses.
The main worries they gave to Caerphilly council are:
- Businesses have experienced already significant losses that cannot be recouped
- Small firms and the people they employ cannot sustain such losses over the 52-week period
- Organisations are dealing with staff being significantly late, either from queuing, increased journey times or school transport network chaos
- Multiple-site organisations are witnessing comparatively weak local sales so investment in the growth of their Caerphilly operations suddenly looks risky
- Larger organisations will lose the best and the brightest staff members as commuting to this area becomes an unattractive prospect and increased childcare costs add further pressure
The businesses claim Caerphilly's highways department "are asking people to stay away from the area - this only serves to perpetuate the notion that Caerphilly is closed for business".
The roadworks on the Pwll-y-Pant roundabout, known locally as the Cedar Tree interchange, started on 9 October.
Caerphilly council said the "improvements will increase capacity at this key strategic location, as well as reduce congestion and improve journey time reliability for local bus services".
But the works have caused added congestion on the A469, A468 from Bedwas and on Caerphilly's Pontygwindy Road.
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Tile shop boss Lexi O'Connor has seen a big fall in customers since the roadworks began with visits from about 40 regular tradesmen dropping to about "seven or eight a week", as well as a decline in other customers.
She said she cannot open earlier - as she drops her daughter off at school - so her regulars have been travelling to Cardiff to get their supplies by using the "mountain road".
Personally, she has found that her own commute to her shop at Pontygwindy Industrial Estate has changed from 10 minutes to over two hours on the worst day so far.
"We are going to move premises so the business doesn't go under," she said.
The head teacher of the nearby 1,000-pupil St Martin's Comprehensive School and principal of the 15,000-student Coleg y Cymoedd have also co-signed the letter to Caerphilly council's leader and chief executive.
"The reasons for our concern relate predominantly to the ongoing disruption of the road network over a sustained period, and the practical difficulties we now experience when conducting business in the borough," reads the letter.
"Whilst you have publicly apologised for this during the first days of the scheme, it is simply not the case that these difficulties have disappeared.
"You have failed to plan for the disruption of this project and you have refused ways to ameliorate its impact.
"On behalf of the people of Caerphilly, this cannot continue.
"We have all been forced to make changes to the way we do business over the last week; it is now time for Caerphilly County Borough Council to make changes."
The businesses warn a failure to act will lead to "business closures, reduced inward investment and the denigration of another valley town".
"You have all recognised previously that Caerphilly borough is a socially and economically-deprived area," added the letter.
"We urge you to take all steps possible to prevent this deprivation escalating further."
Caerphilly council said it was aware of "concerns" of the local business community towards the multi-million pound project.
"Engagement is already taking place to discuss possible options to mitigate the impact of the scheme," said a council statement.
"We apologise for the inconvenience while the work is on going."