Island road closures versus small, local businesses

By Tilly Walder Feb 23, 2024

Whether it be as a result of essential utility works or resurfacing, local businesses can suffer as a result of the high volume of road closures on the Island.

Roadworks bring both long-term and short-term consequences to businesses, with a potential decrease in foot traffic and a resulting loss of revenue.

Briddlesford Lodge Farm, has felt the effects of roadworks recently. Briddlesford Road has been out of action for around seven weeks, and they’re not out of the woods yet.

Christine Griffin, who runs Bluebells Café at the farm, said: “Sadly the road isn’t properly open yet, as Southern Gas Networks are still repairing a gas main in the road near the roundabout. Sometimes cars can get through but often not. We have been told work may be completed next week.

“Our issues have been with very misleading signage, which sends drivers unfamiliar with the area on long detours to get to us. I’m sure many have given up during half-term week. Also, we’ve heard rumours that road surfacing is on the cards for Briddlesford Road shortly!”

Discussing the effects of the roadworks, Christine added: “It has impacted negatively both our café and farm shop, with fewer customers than usual, as we aren’t getting passing trade to or from the ferry terminals.

“However, we are very grateful to our loyal locals and determined visitors who, against the odds, have been finding us.”

A spokesman for Island Roads said: “Highways work by utility companies is necessary to ensure we receive the services we expect – water, gas, electricity, and broadband. They have legal powers to undertake such work, and last year, emergency repairs, maintenance or improvement work by utility companies accounted for around two thirds of all Island roadworks. Island Roads cannot stop utility work – nor would we seek to do so. Our role is to coordinate it to minimise disruption on residents, businesses and road users.

“For our part, Island Roads has a duty to maintain a safe highway network. This means we too have a busy work programme – planned and unplanned – throughout the year.

“Wherever possible, we seek to avoid work on strategic routes during the tourism season. We only close a road when necessary and use other less impactful traffic management whenever we can. We also give residents as much notice as possible of forthcoming work.

“Whilst we have every sympathy for businesses affected, established legal processes take the view that businesses should not have the right in law to any particular level of passing trade, and traders must take the risk of loss due to temporary disruption of traffic flows along with all the other various risks of running a business.”