A major town centre car park in Hebden Bridge will open again tomorrow – Friday, December 14 – after being closed for two days while investigation work was carried out.
Residents and businesses in the Calderdale town had complained that the St Pol car park at Bridge Gate, which is right at the heart of the town centre, had been closed in the run up to Christmas.
Excavation work at the 32-space car park was carried out by the Environment Agency, which is working in partnership with Calderdale Council to design and build a Flood Alleviation Scheme for Hebden Bridge, which is due to be completed in 2021.
Hebden Water runs next to the car park on its way to meet the River Calder in the town centre.
Residents and shopkeepers have criticised the timing of the work, the run up to Christmas being one of the year’s major shopping periods and considering Hebden Bridge’s reputation as a town packed with independent small shops.
Joe McGarraghy, owner of Bridge Gate business Pennine Wine and Cheese, said the unavailability of the car park had affected business.
“It’s been a lot quieter than expected at this time of year and a logistical issue with limited parking in the town at the best of times,” he said.
Mr McGarraghy said businesses had not been consulted with signs going up saying work would take a day but had taken two. At this time of year, he said, “it’s not ideal.”
Helen Batt, Calderdale catchment director for the Environment Agency, said they were sorry for inconvenience the work had caused but explained why it was necessary to do it now.
The ground investigation work was to help inform important design work for the defence scheme and had involved closing the Bridge Gate car park for a couple of days, she said – but it would re-open tomorrow, Friday, December 14.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by closing the car park as we do appreciate this is a busy time of year for local businesses.
“However, it is essential that this work is carried out as soon as possible so that we can continue with our preliminary work for the flood defence scheme which will reduce the flood risk for people living and working in Hebden Bridge,” she said.
Hebden Bridge resident Issy Shannon said the timing could have been better. “Whatever the work is, it is incredibly badly timed if it is not an emergency. Shopping centres are already struggling, and this on top seems unnecessary,” she said.
More information about the Hebden Bridge Flood Alleviation scheme is available by logging onto Eye On Calderdale – http://eyeoncalderdale.com/hebden-bridge-flood-alleviation-scheme – the site which carries news, updates, information and advice about flood alleviation works and flooding emergencies in Calderdale.
And if Hebden Bridge residents have any questions they can contact the project team by email via HebdenBridgeFAS@environment-agency.gov.uk