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Traders welcome news of bridge reopening with trepidation
Updated 11:28am Monday 7th April 2014 in News
1014534601 Paul Jackson 04.03.14 Evesham Construction work continues on Abbey Bridge, Evesham. (4396035)
TRADERS have welcomed the news that the town's Abbey Bridge will re-open to traffic on Monday for the first time in six months with trepidation.
After months of delays to the work being carried out by Hochtief the announcement on Monday that the full closure of the bridge would finally end next week was a boost to business owners in the town who have struggled to stay afloat.
But many said they had only just weathered the storm.
Mike Arens, who runs the garage behind Abbey Road Garage petrol station, said he was hopeful the business could get back to normal.
"I am ecstatic and happy at long last hopefully we will get back to normal. Provided it opens Monday we will be OK, but if it doesn't we will have to shut.
"I am really pleased we have weathered the storm but with us and the forecourt we laid off five people. We are hoping they will be able to come back when business picks up. If the road opens the petrol station will also go back to normal opening hours."
At Avonside Motors, also in Abbey Road, owner Ali Adlkish, said: "We are over the moon. We just want the business to be able to get on.
"There's a lot of hard feeling now and obviously the mistake has been made. This has to be looked at. I think the contract should be out property because they drew it on behalf of us.
"I don't blame Hochtief and personally I just want to get back to normal now."
Ashley Judge, of Big Whoop Comics in Vine Court, added: "Obviously I am happy we just have to have it does come through on Monday now."
Despite the relief of the traders people in the town are still hoping to see some sort of investigation or enquiry into the way the project has been handled.
Last week the Journal reported that Tony Rowland, chairman of the Vale of Evesham Commerce and Tourism Association, was calling for the procurement of the contractor to be looked into.
Following the news of the re-opening he said: "I think something still needs to happen because the procurement mechanism that was used has rather badly let the town down.
"I am pleased it's re-opening for traders but this is the start and not the finish. The town has got to rebuild itself. At 3pm it looks like tumbleweed has gone through it. I think it will take a long time."
And town resident Martin King said: "Even though the bridge is now reopening, seven months late, they will still want to know the truth and reasons for the delay and how the county council has spent our money. Somehow I expect it will be a struggle though, to obtain these facts."
Mayor Mark Goodge added: "It's good to know it's finally going to be open and possible slightly earlier than we were expecting this time round, which makes a change.
"I do think the county council needs to look at the way they handled it and in particular the way they communicated with the public concerning the delays. There are some questions to be answered."