Works Must Pay: PMA launches roadworks compensation campaign

By Oli Gross contact

- Last updated on GMT

Works Must Pay: PMA launches roadworks compensation campaign

Related tags: Commerce, Editor

The Morning Advertiser (MA) is launching a campaign calling for compensation to businesses that lose out on trade due to the impact of nearby roadworks.

The campaign, Works Must Pay​ — run together with MA’s​ sister title Convenience Store​ — calls for a change in policy to ensure local businesses directly impacted by road or utility maintenance get a proportionate business rate refund or are adequately compensated by utilities, depending on the nature of the works.

Struggling pubs

Scores of licenses have contacted the MA​ to explain the devastating extent of their problems, with some fearing their pub will struggle to survive.

Currently, the highway authority is under no legal obligation to offer compensation to businesses during roadworks schemes.

Successive governments have taken the view that businesses should not have “the right in law to any particular level of passing trade”, and must take the risk of loss due to temporary disruption of traffic along with all the other risks of running a business.

Rethink

But our campaign urges a rethink, calling for local councils to refund a proportion of business rates to those affected, and for stricter guidelines for utilities to compensate traders.

MA editor Ed Bedington said: “Competition is tough enough on the high street, without councils and utilities companies adding further to the load.

"We recognise that works need to be carried out, but at the same time, businesses affected should be entitled to automatic compensation, and not forced to jump through hoops to get what they are entitled to.

“The fact that, in a lot of cases, no compensation is given at all and councils are not obliged to offer restitution to businesses affected is appalling and must change.”

Currently, the owner of a business would only have a claim against the highway authority for roadworks if the loss of business was a result of negligent action by the authority or contractor.

Water and gas companies, however, have a statutory obligation to provide compensation to businesses that are directly in front of the roadworks, depending on the nature of the scheme

But at present, the onus is on a businesses to seek out the compensation, and licensees and retailers often claim the system is rigged against them.

Responsibility

Works Must Pay calls for responsibility to shift to utilities companies to ensure businesses are receiving payment, while raising the awareness of business owners’ rights.

Convenience Store​ editor David Rees said: “With business costs high and rising, the last thing that retailers need is outside agencies committing to works that impact on sales and drive regular customers away.

“Essential works and improvements should be carried out in the context of supporting the entire community, including local businesses, and those creating the disruption should acknowledge the damage that such work can cause as part of the original plan.

“A simple and transparent process for claiming compensation or a business rate reduction is long overdue, and will help redress the balance of fairness when it comes to building works.”

Have you been affected by roadworks? We want to hear from you

Related topics: Property law

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