The Artful Codger, November 14, 2014: King’s Lynn market work is a drag

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How frustrating that the work to refurbish Lynn’s Saturday Market Place now looks like dragging on well into December, a crucial trading period for businesses in that part of town.

The original estimates that the work could be finished by the end of October have proved well wide of the mark, and judging by the present rate of progress, there does not seem much cause for optimism – indeed, if the weather takes a turn for the worse, which is not altogether unlikely at this time of the year, there are the prospects of even further delays.

Nor is it just the businesses along the Saturday Market Place who have had to put up with the seemingly never-ending disruption caused by the lack of vehicular access to the market place, as well as the limited pedestrian access amid the on-going groundworks.

The refurbishment works also reaches into the bottom end of High Street, with the traders in this area also having to cope with restricted access, not to mention the knock-on impact on footfall and passing trade.

It’s all adding up to the prospect of a less than jolly Christmas season for this part of town, which is a great shame, given the efforts made by traders to revive it in recent times.

Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing, and on reflection it might have been better to have carried out the Saturday Market Place work in two halves, thereby keeping reasonable access open to at least one end of the square during the work.

The experience of the Tuesday Market Place refurbishment last autumn and winter should have indicated that this project was going to take some time, even without the problems caused by the shortage of Yorkstone slabs.

All in all, it’s been a bit of a frustrating year as far as public works in West Norfolk have been concerned.

The long overrun of the work on the A47 bridge repair project, and the resultant traffic delays through the most important months of the all-important summer holiday season, was a real hassle for local motorists, as well as a trial for businesses who rely on the holiday trade.

Having said that, both the Saturday Market Place work and the A47 bridge upgrades did need to be done, and we will undoubtedly reap the benefits next year, especially with all the other heritage work, both in the Saturday Market area and at St Nicholas Chapel, due to come to fruition.

At least the year has had some good moments, and the Heritage Open Day and Classic Car Event emphasised what an asset to the town the Tuesday Market Place has once again become.

Indeed, it’s just as well this magnificent square will be available for this year’s Christmas lighting up event, given the on-going works in the Saturday Market Place.

I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky to have two market squares, when many towns only have one.

It’s just frustrating to have an area as historically attractive as the Saturday Market Place left like a building site.

So hurry up please, you stone-laying contractors – we want our market place back soon!