by Mark Blunden
from Evening Standard 5 July 2010
Traders around the closed Albert Bridge fear going out of business after the area was turned into a “ghost town” by refurbishment works.
Traffic is banned from the Grade II Victorian suspension bridge linking Chelsea to Battersea while it undergoes up to 18 months of renovations.
Today, business owners spoke out after an Evening Standard investigation revealed how London is being clogged up by its “worst ever” summer of
Takings at businesses in Parkgate Road, Battersea, on the south side of the bridge have plunged and one restaurant was forced to close last week after 17 years.
Kaushik Patel, manager of the Foodways convenience shop, said: “We used to sell the congestion charge and people would then buy other things. I estimate that we're now losing thousands of pounds a week. We understand the work has to be done but 18 months is ridiculous.”
Biagio Morreale, owner of Uffizi hair and beauty salon, said: “Takings are down by 10 per cent and we are very worried because the works have turned this road into a ghost town.
“Just when we'd pulled through the recession we suffer this double whammy.”
Works to strengthen, refurbish and paint Albert Bridge, and also change its lights, began in February to make it “better able to cope with the demands of the 21st century”.
However, it has led to constant traffic jams in Chelsea and Battersea and overload on Battersea Bridge — also the subject of repair works — as it struggles to accommodate the 58 million cars driven across Albert Bridge annually.
The bridge remains open to pedestrians and cyclists, who must dismount when crossing.
Transport for London is paying 75 per cent of the £7.2 million cost with the council paying the rest and taking charge of logistics.
Last week, Buchan's restaurant in Parkgate Road was forced to close because of “very hard trading times”, according to a notice in its window.
Gary Granger, owner of M&G Autos, said: “Sometimes you see just two people working on the bridges.”
Councillor Nick Paget-Brown, Kensington and Chelsea council's cabinet member for transport, said: “I appreciate that there will be disruption while the necessary work is being carried out. The refurbishment programme is on track.
“By returning the bridge to its former glory businesses, residents and visitors will be able to enjoy it for many years to come.”
Date posted: 5 July 2010