BT work causes disruption to Colne businesses

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Businesses in Colne have reported a loss in trade after contractors began working around their shops without any prior notification.

Those affected by the BT Openreach works included About Coffee Ltd, in Church Street.

Work had been ongoing outside St Bartholomew’s Church last week, but moved up the road on Monday - meaning “unsightly” orange fencing and trenches surrounded stores until Wednesday lunchtime.

According to co-owner of About Coffee Colin Unwin, his shop received no passing trade as a result of the disruption, and it was only due to social media that he received any custom at all.

He also described how Ivegate was completed closed off, how flagstones have been left cracked, and how floor saws, pneumatic drills and wacker plates caused his whole building to shake.

Mr Unwin, whose bike was also enclosed by fencing, said: “If it hadn’t been for Twitter and Facebook we wouldn’t have had any customers.

“I don’t think it is right that such a large corporation can act in such a bullying way without any respect for the community. We had no written notice or anything about the roads being closed, and the only contact we had from BT was to tell us we had filled out the wrong online form.

“It was a really nice day on Monday and Colne was really busy, except for our side of the street. If we had known, we could have spared customers the inconvenience.

“We have put a thank you on Facebook to our customers who came and supported us - we really needed that help.”

Coun. Dorothy Lord visited Church Street to view the situation and talk to contractors on Tuesday.

She said she has now talked to both Pendle Council and Lancashire County Council, and has added how businesses should have been told about the disturbance.

She said: “It has been very disruptive and it would have been nice if somebody could have informed businesses as to what they were doing. It has been a bit of a shock.

“What’s done is done, but it looks like it has been a bit of a shambles.”

Responding Oliver Starkey, highways manager for Pendle, said: “Utility companies have to notify the county council of their intention to carry out planned works, and where we think they could cause considerable disruption, we will work with them to ensure that residents, businesses and road users are notified. Site notices and diversion routes are displayed.

“Roadworks directly outside businesses will inevitably cause some level of inconvenience, but the current BT works on Church Street are of a similar size and relatively short duration to hundreds of utility works which take place throughout Lancashire every year, where our available resources mean decisions about communication have to remain with the utility company.”

BT Openreach told the Colne Times they are investigating the situation.