19 SEP 2018
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Sewer works causing storm

12 September 2018 - by By Donal McMahon

Major £60k storm sewer works planned to commence in the coming weeks have angered Newry businesses who believe their shops will be adversely affected.

The NI Water six-week construction and road diversion, sanctioned by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) was announced to businesses and residents of Canal Street and New Street in a letter drop dated September 6. Work will commence from Monday September 24.

It has been claimed that laying of the storm sewer to serve new social housing at Ogle House and surrounding lands on Canal Street was not discussed with residents or business beforehand. 

The apparent lack of communication has caused concern with shop owners, including Sinead’s, Timoney’s, Vivo, and William Baird’s, pointing to a missed opportunity to have the work done during the summer time instead of when schools have restarted with traffic flow at its height.

Daily work is due to start from 8.30am until 5.30pm, with outside of hours work allowed when necessary. Parking bays will also not be in operation.

 

Victimised

 

Canal Street resident and business owner, Bertie Flynn told the Newry Reporter that he and others felt victimised by the sudden announcement of road works, which would hold Canal Street to a standstill into the beginning of November. 

“Anything happens in this area, the whole town comes to a standstill, there are 11,000 vehicles every day going up Canal Street, the area is going to be bunged,” said Mr Flynn.

“There has been no consultation with shop owners and residents on Canal Street over this at all and we are expected to just accept that business will be hit with six weeks of construction works. 

“The worst thing is that NI Water has decided to carry out this work just as the schools get back, it’s just incredible how stupid that is. 

“This could have been done through the summer months. 

“They say it will take six weeks, but we all know these things can take longer, and then we could be in to the Christmas shopping period and that will damage trade.

“We have most of the schools in Newry accessing Canal Street through buses and by students walking to and from school. 

“Businesses are standing together on this to confront NI Water, we will not be ambushed with little to no notice,” he added. 

Meeting

 

The Newry Reporter contacted five schools (St Joseph’s PS, Our Lady’s, St Joseph’s HS, St Colman’s College and the Abbey Grammar) in the locality to ask if they had been made aware of the potential traffic problem for school buses and commuting pupils.

In the responses received, principals stated that they had not been made away of the Canal Street works and would contact NI Water directly.

Following an onsite discussion with contractors, Conwell Contracts and NI Water, it was confirmed to the Reporter that a meeting would take place today (Wednesday September 12) with concerned residents and business owners when issues over the six-week plans would be ironed out.

 

NI Water

 

The Reporter contacted NI Water to ask why it had scheduled the storm sewer work at the beginning of the new school term.

“When a developer makes an application to connect to the public sewer, NI Water has a statutory obligation under the Water and Sewerage Services (NI) Order 2006 to provide the required extension to the public sewer,” said a spokesperson.

“When certain technical and financial conditions are met, the new sewer extension needs to be provided within a six month period. 

“For the development on Canal Street, these conditions were met in July 2018 and a contractor was appointed to plan and complete the construction of the new storm sewer.

“Our contractor has been liaising with the Department for Infrastructure to obtain the necessary permits to commence work on the public road.

“While traffic management proposals have been agreed by the necessary authorities, NI Water will work with local traders to minimise disruption and accommodate access arrangements where possible,” added the spokesperson.

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