THE Sallynoggin Road will remain open over the Christmas period, following a heated meeting between business owners and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.
Last Wednesday, October 9, retailers with shops on the Sallynoggin Road organised a meeting following the announcement by the council that the road would be closed for 14 weeks, starting this week.
Last week, The Gazette reported that the road closure could result in many job losses and the closure of some businesses.
However, the council now says phase one of the road works will begin this week, with some of the work from the Rochestown end of Sallynoggin Road to just past the Sallynoggin Inn being done while the road will remain open in a stop-go capacity.
The first phase will be completed by November 8, and phase two will begin in the new year.
Local Maxol garage owner Ken Rowe and Denis English of Londis were among the chief organisers of a meeting which saw approximately 20 traders collect in the Sallynoggin Inn to meet with council engineer Ivar Blanker and senior engineer Willie Horgan, as well as the contractor due to do the resurfacing work on the Sallynoggin Road, C&M Construction Ltd.
Tempers were frayed at the meeting as the retailers made their case against the road closure, or a stop-go system that the council was offering as a compromise.
Cera Finnegan, owner of Finnegan’s Chemist, and founder of the Sallynoggin Business Group, said: “We rely on passing trade and Christmas is our bumper time. If you close the road or interrupt passing trade there will be loss of jobs.
“Why can’t you leave the works until January or February? Christmas [trade] has already started. I’m imploring you to consider the traders, to consider our plight.”
Council engineer Ivar Blanker said: “The timing is desperate, we understand that, and would like to come to some understanding to suit everyone.”
Denis English, owner of Londis, told council engineer Willie Horgan: “I’ll have 22 jobs gone if this goes ahead. You’ve been talking about doing this work since June – why wasn’t it done before?
“Your [the council] biggest problem is communication – you don’t communicate with us.”
In response, Blanker said: “Our communication is not great, but we are talking now. We’re not perfect, and we could have gotten to you sooner.”
Philip Smith, who owns the pet shop on the Sallynoggin Road, accused the council of trying to spend the €300,000 on the road before the end of the year.
He said: “You just want to get rid of taxpayers’ money by the end of the year, or you won’t get next year’s money.”
In response, Blanker said: “The money only came to us in the middle of the year – it’s very unusual to get extra money in this way.
“The concrete flags on the Sallynoggin Road are breaking up, and over the weeks the extent of this will get greater.”
Wayne Delahunt, of Carzone, asked why the €300,000 could not be held over until next year if the work was started on this side of Christmas.
In a statement to The Gazette, the council said it “should be in a position to retain the grant funding allocated, even with curtailing the proposed road improvement scheme”.
It added: “This arrangement is unusual in such circumstances; however, a mechanism has been found which complies with procurement regulation. The remainder of the works will be completed early in 2014.”
Criticising the works to proceed against traders’ wishes, Cllr Donna Pierce (Lab), who attended the meeting, said that the council’s telling the traders “that they would have a nice road surface, when road closure could mean they or their staff could have a lot less money in their pockets for Christmas, no jobs and no way of paying their bills – but they would have a nice, shiny new road surface, thanks to Santa CoCo, was just crazy”.
Cllr John Bailey (FG) was happy an understanding had been reached by both council staff and the local traders, and said: “Thanks to all involved. It was a misunderstanding that has now been sorted.”
A spokesperson for the council has confirmed that the works are due to commence this week, and that approximately half of the planned works will now be completed in 2013.
This phase of the work will cease on November 8. No road closure will be implemented, and a stop/go system, or temporary traffic signals, will be used to guide traffic around the works.