FORE STREET will be turned into a building site at the peak of the tourist season, says a town councillor.
Installation of superfast broadband cabling by BT and resurfacing of the high street begins on Monday and is due to last ten months.
Town councillor John Stocker said: “They seem completely oblivious of how important tourism is to the area. Will anyone want to come back next year after their experience of delays getting round the town, only to find half the main street dug up when they do finally get parked? It’s bonkers.
“Had they delayed for seven weeks they would have started on September 5, when it’s all quietening down.
“It would also have meant they would have finished by the beginning of July 2012 and missed the height of the season next year.”
Helen Nicholson, Cornwall Council’s community network manager for the town, insisted: “Disruption to pedestrians will be minor. We’re not closing whole roads or stopping entry to shops. If we held until the autumn it would run into summer next year.
“There’s never a good time to do something like this.”
Resurfacing alone, not including the BT work, would cost the council £1.3 million as part of the town-centre regeneration work which started with White River Place, and would include a granite road surface and new seating.
“We’re hoping it will be an economic driver for the rest of the town,” she said. “At the moment there’s a bit of a disjoint and it will link the high street to White River Place.”
Town councillor Jenny Stewart, who is heading the works, said: “It’s going to be made comfortable by December for Christmas trading. Besides, the tourism trade does a lot by broadband.
“We’ve been round all the shops in Fore Street and the feedback was all positive.”
MP Stephen Gilbert said: “With shocking statistics showing a quarter of shops are empty in St Austell, you have to question why the peak tourism season was the right time to dig up Fore Street.
“However, this work is essential to tie all parts of the town together and hopefully boost trade for Fore Street.”
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