Roadworks will not ruin Christmas!

Here is that text of a letter I sent into the Argus newspaper in response to an article they wrote claiming roadworks in the City could ‘ruin Christmas’:

I am baffled by the elaborate speculation in the Argus about whether roadworks will cause ‘gridlock’ in Brighton and Hove city centre this Christmas (‘Roadworks would ruin our Christmas’, October 5).

You see, the council has banned all planned roadworks from the central shopping area for a month from December 3.

This is the third year we have taken this step to eradicate the impact of road works on pre-Christmas trading.

Your reporter, Nigel Freedman, highlights two ‘key’ work sites to support these doom-laden predictions – resurfacing at Western Road and cabling by EDF in Grand Parade. Yet, both will be finished this week (by October 8), hardly a threat to festive trade. Had Mr Freedman told us he was planning this article (he did not), we could have directed him to this information, which is displayed prominently on our website.

We could also have reminded him that the Western Road works have only been taking place at night. Again, this is a measure being taken specifically to minimise disruption to the local economy.

There are several other successful steps we take in our efforts to reduce congestion caused by roadworks. One, for example, is encouraging utilities firms to co-ordinate maintenance so two or more jobs can be done together in the same hole at the same time.

Another is talking to traders’ representatives when big jobs are planned, like the North Laine Southern Water road works mentioned in your article. In this case, we involved Suzi Campbell, the city centre business representative, in the planning of the work.

Yet, none of these significant facts were allowed to ‘spoil’ the article with a little balance and common sense.

This sort of ill-informed scare-mongering has far greater potential to damage Christmas trade than anything reported in your article.

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