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Businesses angry over Newport Arch road closure

Shopkeepers and businesses in the Bailgate area are angry at the City of Lincoln Council’s decision to close off Newport Arch for works for a month.

Described as a “u-turn” by businesses, the city council will close Bailgate for four weeks while repairs are made on Newport Arch.

According to businesses in the area, the council assured that a road closure would not need to happen.

The road between the junction with Church Lane and Newport Arch will be closed from March 10 until April 11.

During this time access to Bailgate will be via Rasen Lane, Burton Road, Westgate and Chapel Lane.

Pedestrian access through the arch will not be affected.

As previously reported, this is so the City Council can make essential restoration work on the third century gateway using £60,000 funding from WREN.

Work began in October, but last month work stopped as contractors found a number of issues with the structure.

Councillors say the road closure is a necessity as large sections of the gable walls are to be taken down and rebuilt on a stone-by-stone basis, and it will ensure safety of the public and stonemasons.

Traders fear that, despite diversion signs and notices saying the areas is “still open for business”, the move will lead to fewer shoppers.

Bailgate Area Guild Chairman, Mark Hollingworth, said: “It is particularly galling that this announcement is so sudden, as the Council has had ages to consider and plan for this.

“No work has taken place on the arch for several weeks.”

Lincoln BIG Chief Executive Matt Corrigan added: “We feel that this work could have been planned to take place at a time – and in a way – that minimise its impact on businesses.

“It would appear that the Council has bent over backwards to rush through a road closure and help a contractor, which isn’t from Lincoln, rather than consider the needs of the local independent retailers which are based here.”

John Latham, Director of Development and Environmental Services, said: “Newport Arch is an iconic structure and a treasured ancient monument.

“Work on it has been complex and because of this, the age of the structure and its importance it is not surprising complications have emerged during this type of scheme.

“Whilst the council fully recognises the importance of maintaining Bailgate as an open road it has become clear during project planning that the road closure is essential to provide a safe system of work.

“Work on the arch has been ongoing and we will continue to explore with the contractor ways in which disruption can be kept to an absolute minimum as well as looking at mitigation measures in support of businesses in Bailgate.

“We will be speaking to Lincoln BIG and the Bailgate Area Guild to see what we can do, how we can minimise the impact and ensure that visitors and shoppers are aware they can access Bailgate and that businesses will remain open.

“It is always hard to identify the right time to carry out these types of works because of the nature and the age of the structure. It is also important we make progress. We will be pressing contractors to ensure work is completed as quickly as possible.”