C-Store’s Works Must Pay campaign - which calls for compensation for small businesses affected by roadworks - gained further momentum this week after MPs pledged to raise the issue in Parliament.
Jim Shannon MP, of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland, said he would either ask a question in Prime Minister’s Questions or submit a written question to Parliament.
“There is no co-ordination among utilities in my constituency; it’s become a big issue for us in Northern Ireland,” he told C-Store. “Also, insurance has now changed so utilities will block the whole road instead of allowing traffic through on one side, because insurance won’t cover big schemes. They close the whole road to protect themselves.
“It’s a devolved matter in NI, but I’ll happily bring it to the attention of the Westminster government.”
Yasmin Qureshi, Labour MP for Bolton South East, has promised to raise the issue in Westminster, while Gavin Robinson MP, also of the DUP, has said he will refer the question to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
All three are among the 10 MPs who have signed an Early Day Motion, Roadworks Justice for Local Businesses, which was inspired by the Works Must Pay campaign. EDMs are formal motions submitted in the House of Commons to allow MPs to draw attention to a particular issue.
The lack of compensation for small businesses was recently highlighted when National Grid confirmed that it would not compensate Julie Shepherd of Castle Stores, near Stoke, who had lost thousands of pounds of revenue due to roadworks earlier this year.
National Grid told Julie’s MP Karen Bradley, who had contacted the utility company on her behalf, that the store owner’s claim did not meet the criteria set out in the Gas (Street Works) (Compensation of Small Business) Regulations 1996.
Chris Train, National Grid’s director for gas distribution, said one of these criteria stipulated that any loss of gross profit must exceed 2.5% of the business’ annual turnover.
Julie needed to have lost £3,401.90 in gross profit over the period of disruption to qualify for compensation. Instead, she lost £1,120.59 in gross profit.
Works Must Pay is being run by C-Store and sister title The Morning Advertiser.