Traders fear road closures will ruin their businesses
Business owners in Slane are angry and frustrated at being given just one week's notice informing them the road on which they are trading will be closed entirely for 10 days leaving some worried that loss of earnings could force them out of business.
The €2.8m investment funded by Transport Infrastructure Ireland for road re-construction, re-surfacing and drainage repair works on the N2 and N51 approaches to the centre of Slane have commenced and will necessitate road closures on the N2 over 13 weeks.
An information evening was held last week with representatives from Meath County Council present to address queries.
Local traders were amongst those in attendance and voiced their anger at not being consulted in advance about the decision to completely close the N51 at the square up to the graveyard on the Collon road for 10 days, a move that will put huge pressure on the 12 businesses that employ 83 people in the village. That's according to Maura Smyth of Smyth's Service Station who along with other enterprises fear facing a massive loss of trade.
Businesses are concerned that the road closure in Slane will result in a massive loss of trade
“I was horrified when I realised that the area was to be blocked off at one of the busiest times of the year with little or no warning. This could put us out of business. We rely on passing traffic for 90 per cent of our business. If the traffic can't go past we might as well be closed.
“We have had to cut back staff hours and our deli has been devastated.
Manager, David Smyth says the meeting was too little too late.
“It's far too late to have this meeting, this should have happened a couple of months ago. This is just a talking shop because the decisions have been made so what are we discussing really. We were told the primary focus of the meeting was to focus on business's concerns about the road closure but instead, council officials insisted that there was a plan there and it could not be changed. I only found out the closure when the contractor asked me if I would rent a yard to him.
“These businesses employ people locally so everyone is affected. I'm really worried. People think you are ok because you are in business a long time but one bad week could put your lights out. You will never those sales back, they are gone forever.
“We have asked Meath County Council to keep one side of the road open and do some work at night but have been told it's not an option.
The Collon Road from the square to the graveyard will be closed for ten days
“Between all of the businesses here, there are 26 people employed beside us and 83 in total on the road. We have the only ATM in Slane and the only petrol station. We are really worried, we have payments to meet, staff wages and overheads.
James Ausden, the proprietor of Inside Out Restaurant on Chapel Street fears that his business won't survive the closure,
“I'm only in my third year of business so although everyone thinks the restaurant is really busy, there is a very small profit margin in restaurants and in the first two years we lost money because of the way we wanted to do things. Closing for 10 days puts us further behind, we are playing catch up all of the time, those 10 days could close us permanently.
“We have asked at the very least that they would put signage in place to say not just local residential access but local access for all businesses because all businesses will be accessible during this closure.
“I have 15 staff members, they are asking me what is happening, are we going to be able to get to work, will we be open and I can't answer them.
Roadworks in Slane are causing disruption
“To be told that you still have the locals to keep things going, if we just relied on the locals, we would have been closed within the first six months of opening. We depend on passing traffic.
Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council and Fianna Fail Cllr Wayne Harding says although the works will cause disruption they are necessary,
“It is a major inconvenience for businesses and residents and I totally understand their frustration but at the same time, the road is getting into a terrible state. There will be major disruption when you touch anything in Slane because of the traffic volumes. The traffic levels in the village are out of control, there should have been a bypass completed years ago.
“I'm a business owner myself in the village, I'm also going to be affected and I have sympathy for the concerns of my fellow business owners. The roads have not been touched in years. It's a big investment that will leave the village in a much better state and this is the only way that it can be done properly.”
Have you been affected by the Slane roadworks? Contact Sally at firstname.lastname@example.org