Roadworks, I love you not

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ROADWORKS have left a florist seeing red as he has been left with a shop full of Valentine’s Day red roses which he is now struggling to sell.

Carl Blake, who owns The Secret Garden, in Elwick Road, Hartlepool, bought the traditional red flowers as he does every year expecting to be able sell them for February 14th’s celebration of love.

But Hartlepool Council roadworks have left a distinct lack of amour in Carl’s shop, as customers are unable to access Elwick Road from either York Road or Catcote Road for the next nine weeks.

The 47-year-old says both lanes of Elwick Road are being refurbished and it has left the street like a “ghost town”.

And he told the Mail that out of the 2,000 red roses he has bought - at a cost of over £2 per flower - he has only sold 240, about 400 less than he would have done at this stage in other years. He also says that takings are down by a massive 50 per cent.

Carl, who lives in Hartlepool and opened the popular florists five years ago, said: “The council has shut both sides of Elwick Road off for 12 weeks. We’ve endured this for three weeks already and there’ll be another nine weeks to run, it’s an absolute nightmare.

“It’s Valentine’s Day on Thursday and as normal I’ve ordered 2,000 red roses and I’ve only sold 240. Normally fellas drive past the shop, see the flowers and it reminds them it’s Valentine’s Day, they stop run in, buy the flowers and the jobs a good ’un.

“But nobody is passing the shop because they can’t get down so my takings are down at least 50 per cent. It’s destroying what business we’ve got.

“It’s ridiculous to close both sides of a main road. Why couldn’t they just do one at a time and then traffic could still come down the road and it wouldn’t affect the business.”

A council spokesman apologised for the disruption but said to close just one side of the road would have “significantly extended” the time the work went on for.

He said: “We did consider all of the options for carrying out this major improvement scheme to minimise the inconvenience and disruption for businesses and motorists.

“To close one side of the road at a time would have significantly extended the length of the contract and we wanted to avoid this.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and are confident that the scheme will result in significant improvements when completed.

“The Council did publicise the scheme well in advance and we would ask people once again to please bear with us while the work is being carried out.”

But Carl said the effect on his business is “just awful”.

He added: “I could pull up a table and chairs in Elwick Road at the minute and eat my dinner there, because there’s no cars at all.

“Customers who would normally come here will just drive past the bottom of York Road or at Catcote Road and buy their flowers elsewhere.

“And another thing is the wagon that usually delivers my flowers can’t get in so I have to meet it in Tesco car park and pick the flowers up myself.””

Carl said people can get to his shop by driving down one of the side streets off Lister Street.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “We did consider all of the options for carrying out this major improvement scheme to minimise the inconvenience and disruption for businesses and motorists. To close one side of the road at a time would have significantly extended the length of the contract and we wanted to avoid this.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and are confident that the scheme will result in significant improvements when completed. The Council did publicise the scheme well in advance and we would ask people once again to please bear with us while the work is being carried out.”