A BUSINESS leader has pleaded with rail bosses not to keep shops in the dark about plans to “isolate” a town.
Coun Elaine Silverwood, chairman of the Kirkham and Wesham Business Group, fears road closures sparked by rail electrification work could cripple Kirkham’s economy.
And she has been left furious after Network Rail failed to approach either the town council or the business group about its plans to close Carr Lane, in Treales, and then Station Road, in Kirkham, to allow the railway bridges to rebuilt.
Each road will be closed for around three months – meaning six months of disruption – and Coun Silverwood said: “I’m really concerned about the high street.
“We’ve not had any consultation from Network Rail at either the town council or the business group and my concern is that Kirkham will potentially be marooned for six months.”
The roads are the main routes linking Kirkham with Wesham and Treales, and Carr Lane is expected to close in September, with Station Road following once work there is complete.
Kirkham is currently waiting to hear if it has won government funding to be a Mary Portas pilot town – aimed at boosting high street trade – and Coun Silverwood fears the closure would mean any project was not an accurate reflection.
She added: “I accept the electrification and its advantages but I want as little disruption as possible and for this to be done as quickly as possible because I’m really frightened of the impact it could have.
“We need to discuss it with Network Rail urgently – not only do we have to survive the six months this disruption will last but we have to survive afterwards and get customers back.”
Network Rail has stressed it has been in contact with local councils and the highways authority about the work, and has been undertaking traffic assessments.
But they are encouraging town councillors, shop owners and the public to get in touch – via www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/1346.aspx – with ANY concerns or queries.
A spokesman added: “Over the next few weeks we will be in a position to discuss the work with the general public, businesses, and wider community. As part of the project we intend to hold public information events – venues to be confirmed – in the towns along the route to explain the work and the benefits electrification will bring to the North West region.”