Peterborough’s Cathedral Square could be ripped up again as work to replace a faulty electricity cable brings more misery to angry city centre traders.
Today (19 January) will see the start of work to dig a half-metre deep trench along Bridge Street from The Works bookshop to HSBC, on the corner of Cathedral Square, as UK Power Networks replace an 11,000-volt cable.
A similar trench will be created in Long Causeway, near Boots the Opticians and Caffe Nero, after deterioration of the existing cable was found to be the cause of intermittent power cuts in the city centre in recent weeks.
However, if cable ducts beneath Cathedral Square are found not to be big enough to take the replacement cable, sections of the £6 million revamped square could be excavated to create a new one.
The news was greeted with anger by business owners who have already put up with delay after delay on the project.
Sean Baker, manager at the O2 phone shop in the square, said: “It’s ridiculous that this has not been done before when the original excavations were carried out.
“I was expecting everything to be finished at Christmas. I realise there have been problems with the cold weather but the deadline just seems to be extending and extending.
“I have been very patient over the last few years as customers walk into the store with mud and tarmac on their shoes from the work, but with the latest energy work it just seems like it is taking forever to finish.”
The work is expected to last six weeks, coinciding with what is hoped will be the end of the Cathedral Square and St John’s Square works, which have been delayed due to bad weather and archaeological finds.
UK Power Networks will move their way up Bridge Street bit-by-bit as they replace the cable and have sent out letters to traders warning them that their power will be shut off on certain days as they work.
Most of the power will be turned off outside opening hours – however New Horizons arcade will be forced to shut for the final two-and-a-half hours of the day next Tuesday because they will have no power.
UK Power Networks said it will cut power to the store between 6.30pm and midnight but the arcade will stay open until 9pm.
Manager Rich Lyons said he was not aware that excavations work would be starting until he was told by the Evening Telegraph.
He said: “It looks like we’re going to have to close the arcade early on the Tuesday. We’ve been told it should be coming back on around midnight but you never know, it could take longer.”
Peterborough City Council has said the fault was not apparent when work started in Cathedral Square in February 2009 and UK Power Networks would pay the cost of the works.
Council engineer Jeff Manners said: “When surveys of utility services were conducted in preparation for the Cathedral Square renewal project there were no faults identified in this section of cable.
“It is regrettable that a fault has now developed but all paving surfaces will be reinstated to match the quality of the completed scheme.”
UK Power Networks spokesman said they would do all they could to minimise the impact on retailers in the city centre.
He said: “We will ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum by carrying out this repair as quickly as possible.”