Irish Water has signed a contract with GMC Utilities Group to replace 5km of ageing water mains in Swords.
The 30” concrete water main, which is due to be laid through the spine of Swords, is already causing problems in the town.
The water main will travel between Cooks Road and Forest Road south of Swords, along Forest Road to the junction with the Dublin Road / Main Street Swords, then along Main Street and North Street and onwards to Lissenhall, ending near the Swords north M1 motorway junction.
However, the planned arrival of the water main to North Street in Swords is being viewed as a major threat to local businesses there.
Retailers are calling on Irish Water and the County Council to make North Street a one-way street – not a contra flow for the duration of the roadworks, in order to save their businesses.
The County Leader spoke to some of the shop owners, who were solidly behind the one-way solution.
Kieran Argue proprietor of Kieran James Hair Stylists said: “There was a meeting called about this just before Christmas and we got a day’s notice about the meeting.
“We need senior council officials to have interaction with retailers on North Street and reassure us that they are going to work with us now, rather than in six months time, “Sixteen years ago when there was a similar disruption to North Street, we almost lost our business and small businesses are really going to struggle.
“Whether that’s just the council not caring about North Street, because of the development happening over the next three years, I don’t really know, but generally Irish Water have not had a representative at the meeting, nor had the council.
Larry O’Dea from Q4U said: “The council were given plenty of notice to attend the meeting, yet no representative was in attendance. After all the council are stakeholders in this. We were only |given a day’s notice.
“Our main fear is the length of time it will take them to complete the work and we don’t know if there will be penalties if Irish Water goes beyond the period of time. We need to know what the consequences will be.
“Another burning question is what compensation will be paid to business owners for the disruption that will accrue and the loss of business. We need parking options for our customers – it is essential, otherwise we may lose them for good.”
Kieran Argue said: “I have a small business and two children and I was passionate at the meeting, but the official were just going through the motions and the feeling from the meeting is that there is no real importance attached to North Street.
“We want a one-way system to be put in place on North Street for the duration of the roadworks – not a contra flow that just clogs up the traffic and causes chaos and massive delays.
“You could do a complete loop from Seatown right around and it is more accessible that way because they know they don’t have to stop at traffic lights and traffic flow is much smoother. All we want is communication and this whole thing can be sorted out with proper communication with all stakeholders.”
Cllr Joe Newman (NP) was very much in support of the retailers. He said: “Listening to the concerns of the business people, they have genuine concerns. Whether there’s a one-way system or a contra flow, it’s unlikely that there will be parking here.
“I have already been in contact with Irish Water and GMC, the contractor and I intend to make sure that a meeting is set up for the business people, so that their concerns are listened to. I will also make representation at council level to ensure that there is a contact there to liaise with the business people.
“We have a couple of months before the works arrive on North Street and I will make sure that proper communication between all takes place. Irish Water, the council and GMC need to liaise with businesses to ensure the best outcome for all,” concluded Cllr Newman.
Customer parking is crucial and the council car park is right around the corner and we should have access to it for a period of two months for our customers,” said Kieran Argue.
Ray McGonigle, proprietor of Sanuk Takeaway also believes that a one-way system is the only answer to the problem. He said: “The roadworks are going to affect everyone, but at least a one-way system allows traffic to keep moving. It is certainly essential for my business and we need to know, when and for how long, the road works will take place. The Council need to speak to us,” he said.
Brian Geoghegan, proprietor of Applegreen Service Station, located on North Street said: “I’m 100 per cent behind a one-way system. It allows a continuous flow of traffic. Customers will be put off by a stop start system.
“The problem with this system is timing. It’s okay if it’s manned, but I suspect it won’t be. I’ve seen it in Rush and it just doesn’t work. We have no communication with the Council – the only information I get is from posters,” he said.