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After months of disruptive footpath work, Bangor traders warn there'll be no shops left by the time it’s finished

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A deserted Bangor High Street as work to revamp the streets continues

A deserted Bangor High Street as work to revamp the streets continues

Hilary McMaster as work gets under way outside Criterion Interiors

Hilary McMaster as work gets under way outside Criterion Interiors

The view from inside Flawless - a large hole on the footpath outside the door

The view from inside Flawless - a large hole on the footpath outside the door

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A deserted Bangor High Street as work to revamp the streets continues

Retailers in one of Northern Ireland's busiest shopping towns have said their trade is being threatened by long-running work to revamp the streets.

Hard-pressed shopkeepers on Bangor's High Street have slammed the on-going public realm works which has involved footpaths at the front of their businesses being dug up.

As a result access has been hampered for shoppers, and one business said it even had customers trapped inside after workmen removed the pavement.

A number have said the work is too slow and is threatening their livelihoods in a town which already has a 25% shop vacancy rate.

Work began in Bangor in May to lay down new footpaths in the busy shopping area. But one retailer, Hilary McMaster, said the work had been going on for so long, the town will end up with "beautiful pavements and no shops".

Ms McMaster, who has owned Criterion Interiors on High Street for 44 years, said she felt abandoned by North Down Borough Council, which is co-ordinating the work.

"Promises have been broken," she claimed. "We feel we have been abandoned by the council, no one has come near us. We will end up with beautiful pavements and no shops the way trade is falling."

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The owner of nearby Flawless Beauty, Deborah McKee, said it's like working at "bomb site".

She also complained that her customers couldn't get out of her premises after workmen dug up the footpath right to the door.

"It's like a bomb site out there; the digging outside my door was supposed to have been done when we were shut, instead we had people trapped inside," she added. "It's a disgrace."

John McLachlan, who owns the Seven Ate Nine sandwich bar on High Street, said his trade had plunged.

"They have been outside my shop for eight weeks now," he said. "Trade has fallen through the floor and I have had my electric supply knocked out twice."

The businessman said he had to close up for a week.

The work is being carried out as part of a £10.4m project to revamp both Bangor and Holywood town centres.

North Down Borough Council and the Department for Social Development have committed the cash for the project, which aims to provide new footpaths.

Work started on May 6 and is expected to take two years.

The Belfast Telegraph spoke to several traders on High Street who agreed that the work was needed, but was progressing too slowly. Work is due to be abandoned altogether in November until after Christmas.

Christine Mahon, director of development services at North Down Borough Council, said: "North Down Borough Council, the Department for Social Development, the designers and the contractor continue to liaise and provide regular communications with utility companies to ensure work is completed in a prompt and efficient manner, with minimal disruption to traders and members of the public."


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