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Roadworks kill trade on St Heliers Bay Rd

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014
St Heliers Bay Road

DRIVING BY: Roadworks make it difficult for customers to stop at the small set of shops on St Heliers Bay Rd.

David Lokes
Lauren Priestley
QUIET TIME: Ruby & Blush Floral Couture owner David Lokes says his business won’t survive six months of roadworks keeping his customers away.

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Roadworks are churning up St Heliers Bay Rd and small business owners fear it could be the end of them.

Work to upgrade a 1 kilometre stretch of Watercare pipe started on June 3 and could last six months.

Businessman David Lokes says his flower shop won't survive.

The disruption has already caused a 70 per cent drop in customers and numbers are still falling, he says.

"We've gone from 10 to 20 customers a day down to three or four.

"People are staying away and it's just getting worse," he says.

"Right now we're facing the possibility of having to close the doors.

"We won't last three months of this, let alone six. It's something we don't want to consider but reality bites."

Lokes bought the flower shop 18 months ago and has doubled the business in that time.

The roadworks limit access to his store from every direction but one and he is calling for compensation from Watercare.

Lokes is fronting the fight on behalf of the six businesses in the block.

He says communication from Watercare could have been better.

The organisation delivered letters to the six shops in May but none of the owners were contacted directly.

Lokes has written to and met with Watercare planners.

He says there should have been a longer consultation process and the work could have been done in the summer when people wouldn't mind walking to the shops.

He wishes the three stages of the project could be staggered so businesses could have a chance to recover.

"It's not that we don't understand this is an important job and it needs to be done, it just could have been done in a much better way.

"For us it's a major situation and it's pretty dire."

Watercare spokesman John Redwood says the company has done everything it can to keep everyone informed.

Material was handed out to businesses, residents, schools and libraries in May and the construction was publicly advertised in the East & Bays Courier.

The Orakei Local Board, St Heliers Business Association, residents associations, bus companies and police were also notified.

Ongoing conversations have been held with business owners since then, he says.

The existing 65-year-old water main down the centre of St Heliers Bay Rd is nearing the end of its life and urgently needs upgrading.

Doing the work in summer months was never on the agenda, he says.

"We do consider things like that but our priority needs to be on what work is most urgently required and what best fits in with other work being undertaken.

"When all is said and done, this project is directly benefiting the people who are experiencing the disruption."

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- East And Bays Courier

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