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Traders call for fine money to be returned to the town
5:24pm Tuesday 22nd April 2014 in News
TRADERS in Evesham say the £250,000 fine faced by contractors after months of delays in delivering the vital new Abbey Bridge isn't enough but whatever is paid should be returned to businesses in need.
Last week Worcestershire County Council revealed Hochtief, the company building the new bridge in Evesham, were facing fines of more than £250,000 as a result of finishing the project about five months later than anticipated.
Now traders, who think the amount is too low, want to know where the money is going to be spent.
Ashley Judge, owner of Big Whoop Comics in Vine Court, has struggled through the bridge closure.
He said the money should go back to the town and its traders.
"Honestly I think it should have been more for the bid and how grossly over due it is," he said. "I don't know how they do it and where the money will go but it should be piped directly back into the town to make it easier for the businesses.
"There are still businesses closing because the closure has caused that much damage."
Richard Jones, of Cartridge World in Merstow Green, added: "I just felt with that level of penalty on that size contract there doesn't seem to be much incentive for them to push for a speedy conclusion to it really."
Evesham Mayor councillor Mark Goodge said he understood the fines were to cover county council spending and not to cover third party loss like traders in the town.
He added: "I do understand the county council's legal position, but I do feel they could've driven a harder bargain and done something to get more back for the people in the town.
"I am disappointed there hasn't been more for the town and its traders."
Tony Rowland, chairman of the Vale of Evesham Commerce and Tourism Association, wanted to know how the money would be spent and many other traders have called for the fines to be returned to traders who have lost revenue and even their businesses as a result of the delays.
Cllr John Smith, cabinet member for highways and county councillor for Evesham north west, said he believed the money would go back into the town but that it was still too early to provide details say of how.
But the county council said it was too early to say how the money would be spent.
Peter Blake, head of integrated transport at Worcestershire County Council said: "At this stage the contract is live and ongoing. Final financial settlement with the contractor isn't anticipated until later this year. At present no decision has yet been made on how best the money will be utilised."
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