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Gas works on a main road through a Worcestershire village must be speeded up or delayed until the New Year a local MP has told the company responsible for the work.

Peter Luff, the MP for Fernhill Heath today (Sunday) visited the village after complaints from local traders. He then spoke to a senior manager at National Grid and asked for a detailed explanation of their intentions by Tuesday.

Peter met Alan Cash who runs the village shop and who explained to Peter just how bad things were. He also went to Brookside Fruits, on the A38 about a mile-and-a-half north of the works, where he was told the traffic chaos in Fernhill Heath was having a serious effect on trade there too with takings significantly down.

He was told that the three pubs in Fernhill Heath had lost their lunchtime trade and that the takings in the post office were down by about a third. Other village traders, such as the log and coal merchant, had also experienced serious falls in custom.

During his walkabout in the village, Peter also met the parish council chairman, John Carter, who told him that the works had started without warning and that no one could get answers out of the contractor or National Grid Gas, the company that has responsibility for the gas main network.

Commenting, Peter said,

“We all know that this work must be done, but it must be done efficiently and considerately too. The company consulted neither any local business, nor the parish council about the best timing for the work and it never indicated how long the work would take. Now the contractor, Enterprise, is simply not putting enough resource into completing it speedily. I have been told that the total workforce amounts to two men. Apparently they are very pleasant, but there just aren’t enough of them – and often they are unable to work in the absence of a supervisor on “health and safety” grounds.

“When I went on Sunday no work was being done – but the A38 is a major road and National Grid should be busting a gut to get the work done quickly, including weekend work. Now the talk is that the work, already three weeks old, will not be competed until the New Year – and in that time the businesses in the village will have lost much of their Christmas trade.

“Either National Grid must get the work done very quickly indeed and get the village back to normal, or it must delay it until after the Christmas period, making sure the contractor then puts enough staff on the job to complete it in days, not weeks.

“I will be telephoning National Grid again on Tuesday and I expect good answers to my questions.”


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