WORK on a facelift for the Octagon area of Westport town centre is to start this week despite the protestations of 27 traders who operate in the vicinity.
A document, signed by the 27 traders, was handed into Westport Town Council requesting that the planned refurbishment of the Octagon be delayed until September, as the traders believed there was a possibility of disruption to business in the area during the peak period of the tourism season.
However, they appeared to have missed the boat with their observations as Town Manager Martin Keating made it quiteclear that the council were contractually obliged to begin the work this week.
Mr Keating though did go on to say that he had been assured that the work would only take six weeks to complete, which would mean that the work would be complete by the start of June.
“We are contractually bound to begin this work after we completed the tendering process and if we were to not start, we would be facing a claim for damages. We will put in place safeguards and I know the contractor is confident that a six week programme is very achievable. There has been extensive consultation with both residents and businesses in the area,” said Mr Keating.
One of the traders, Michael Dever, tried to state at the meeting from the public gallery that the traders in the area were never informed as to when the work was due to begin, but his comments were not allowed as members of the public can only observe at the council’s monthly meetings.
The work on the Octagon will see increased lighting in the area, the removal of some trees and the altering of some trading bays, but most contentiously will see the introduction of a new courtesy pedestrian crossing from Desmond’s Barbers to the Cobbler’s Bar.
Back in October councillors expressed concerns about the suitability of the location for a courtesy crossing but the improvement works for the Octagon were signed off by councillors in November and included the aforementioned crossing.
Cllrs Ollie Gannon and Martin Keane called for the works to be delayed due to the traders concerns but Mr Keating again reiterated the fact that the date for public submissions on the project had passed and the work had to begin.
Cllr Margaret Adams said she was of the view that the new courtesy crossing was located at exactly the right location and it was clear after consultation with the Town Manager that the work had to proceed this week as planned.
Cllr Keith Martin said he hoped their would only be slight disruption for the traders in the area and it was important to make sure that the works were completed by early June.
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