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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 November 2006, 10:13 GMT
Town's ring road 'hits traders'
Confusion on Railway Street
Some motorists found the new road system in Chatham confusing
Traders in a Kent town who are unhappy with recent changes to its road system are handing in a petition and raising concerns with local councillors.

They say the Chatham two-way ring road has led to less passing trade, problems for taxi drivers and more congestion.

Clare Shotton, who runs a newsagents in Railway Street, said she was now facing losses of up to 3,000 a week.

Director of regeneration for Medway Council, Robin Cooper, said figures showed the ring road was working well.

The layout is absolutely rubbish
Ralph Dukeson, Taxi Drivers' Association in Medway

"Obviously the number of people coming to Chatham dropped while the roadworks were going on, but we've done some surveys... and the number of people is pretty well back to the level it was before we did the roadworks," he said.

The "concrete collar" around Chatham became a two-way system in September after months of work costing more than 2.5m.

The changes were made as part of attempts to regenerate the town centre.

But many small independent traders, especially around the High Street and Medway Street, have said their businesses have suffered, with passing trade dropping by up to 50%.

Many claim they were not consulted properly and the council should have done more to safeguard businesses against the impact of the changes.

Taxi drivers have also expressed their concerns and recently handed in a list of 22 complaints to the council.

Chatham roadworks
The two-way system opened after six months of roadworks

Ralph Dukeson, chairman of the Taxi Drivers' Association in Medway, said it was impossible to get to the town's taxi rank and drivers were finding it more difficult to get around.

"The layout is absolutely rubbish, especially down the Brook. There's so many sets of traffic lights... it's just traffic congestion all the way.

"Even the buses are struggling to get round and keep their timetables," he said.

Mr Cooper said people in Chatham were kept informed about the changes to the road system, and small independent traders were as much a part of the town as the bigger shops.

"We did do very extensive consultation - it certainly wasn't a secret to most people what we were doing," he said.

He added that work on the ring road was ongoing, with more road signs and markings still to be put in place, but "delays were far less than before".


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