The closure of Burton's main St Peter's Bridge has been driving motorists around the bend. They have been stuck in gridlock around the town at all hours of the day. The closure of the bridge has also caused issues for traders and restaurants alike as customers have stayed away from the town, fed up of the delays.

The bridge is closed for three months and is due to reopen at the end of November. The repairs are to replace rusted bearings. If they are not replaced then a weight restriction would have to be added to the bridge.

Independent traders have now spoken about how their business has been affected by the closure – with one new trader saying had she known about the bridge closure, she would have never opened shop in town.

Market traders and stall holders are saying the bridge closures is killing their business
Market traders and stall holders are saying the bridge closures is killing their business

Here's what they had to say:

The Cobbler

Dan Granfield, 26, works at The Cobbler with his father. The shoe repair store is an independent trader based in The Octagon shopping centre, in Burton.

He said: "There's not many people about at all. You can definitely tell something’s gone on, pretty much as soon as it closed. You can sort of say its hit the town hard. Not many people want to come out, do they?

"When you look at the centre and see the amount of people about, there’s nowhere near as much as there was."

The Model Shop

The Model Shop in the Octagon Centre
The Model Shop in the Octagon Centre

Elizabeth Marshall, 33 is a co-owner of The Model Shop, again in The Octagon shopping centre. She said: "It's been a lot quieter. There's not so many people coming in. A lot of our regulars are only coming in when they need to, when they are in town."

Henry Rose, Fine English Jewellers

Henry Rose, Fine English Jewellers
Henry Rose, Fine English Jewellers

Owner of Henry Rose, Fine English Jewellers in The Octagon shopping centre is Jason Dewsbury. He said he noticed a definite decrease in footfall, although his trade hasn't been affected directly.

He said: "There's definitely been a decrease in footfall, I've noticed a lot less people walking past. But I'm in a very different business. I'm not reliant on lots of small sales."

Café B

Abbey Hall, 20, manager at Café B, in High Street, Burton, said: "Today it's been dead. It's definitely been a lot quieter compared to this time last year.

Ahoy Sailor Vintage Clothing

Natalie Lynch, co-owner of Ahoy Sailor Vintage Clothing, in High Street, said sales haven't gone down - they've gone up.

She said: "I've noticed it's been a bit busier in the store. Lots of people are walking past to the car park and are noticing the store more so are coming in."

Meanwhile, in Burton's Market Hall, traders we spoke to say they have been hit hard by the bridge work:

Pets Charisma

Owner of Pets Charisma Derek Pinion, who commutes daily from his home in Leicester, said it’s not just the bridge that is affecting trade.

Derek Pinion
Derek Pinion

He said: "Before it was really bad, and now it's really, really bad. It's not just the bridge. We're roughly running on a quarter of what we would be this time last year.

Ooh! My Goth

Carol Atton, owner of Ooh! My Goth, opened up her market unit on the day the bridge closed. She said if the council had warned about the bridge closure, she would have never opened shop.

Carol Atton
Carol Atton

She said: "Most definitely it's affected trade. What can I say? You only have to look at the market this morning. There's barely anybody here. Yesterday, the café was empty from 1pm – that's lunchtime. The footfall is dreadful."

Ms Atton, of Horninglow, said she was trading on the market outside the Market Hall before she purchased an indoor unit.

She recalled her time on the outdoor market was "great".

She said: "What's annoying about me is that I'm a new trader, along with a few others, and we weren't told that the bridge was going to be closed by the council, and the day we took these units on, the bridge closed. We weren't told about it, and we think we should have been told about it.

"Had we been told the bridge was going to close, we would have held on a bit longer to get these units. There's a lot of money gone into these and it's not good. It's not fair. I am worried. I put a lot of money into this. Since the bridge closed it is totally dead in here, it's just not good at all."

Summerhouse Bakery

Tracey Heap
Tracey Heap

Tracy Heap, owner of Summerhouse Bakery, said: "Trade is still fairly good. However, early mornings and afternoons are the two times of the day customers are avoiding because they know they have to sit in traffic to get into town."

"Lunchtimes are fairly okay for us. I'm not worried at the moment, we're doing okay. We're riding it out by putting some offers on to attract people early morning."

Warnes Computers

Steve Warner
Steve Warner

Steven Warnes, owner of Warnes Computers, lives in Swadlincote, and says it takes him an hour to get home.

He said: "Basically the market is dead at the moment because no-one wants to seem to want to go in the town.

"The parking fees haven't helped either, that's kept people away. I think at the moment traders in the market, and in the town, can do with a bit more support from the council. I've been here since June the 1 and it was going really well until the bridge closed.

And here's what our readers have to say...

The Dress said: "I've stopped going to Burton Town Centre since this bridge closed. Now with Christmas coming up and the other bridge closing once this one is finished it may well be months before I visit Burton again.

"The town is losing business if I'm anything to go by. It's important work, but they should be working around he the clock."

Coldspring77 said: "I work in Burton and live in Swadlincote, the council don't seem to have worked out that six months of these queues will change shopper behaviour for many many months afterwards, if not years. The queues are awful, it's gridlock. Do yourselves a favour avoid Burton altogether if you can."

Theoisok said: "I walked into town on the Ferry Bridge to watch the match at 7.15 and the bridge was empty, no workers, no vans and no equipment in use. These shift change overs must take a long time!"

St Peter's Bridge facts

St Peter's Bridge during staff changeover
St Peter's Bridge during staff changeover

  • Construction of St Peter's Bridge began in 1983 and was officially opened in 1985.
  • The bridge is 800 metres long.
  • Each day 24,000 vehicles pass across the bridge.
  • Along the road over St Peter's Bridge there are five structures – Pumphouse Viaduct, flood relief culverts, Stapenhill Underpass, St Peter's Bridge and St Peter's footbridge. Maintenance will be carried out on all five structures.
  • There are 80 bearings in total supporting Pumphouse Viaduct and St Peter's Bridge to allow the bridge's decks to move relative to their supports. The bridge decks were designed to move under traffic loading and also expand and contract given variations in temperature. The multiple types of bearing used have different functions to allow movement and rotation in specific directions. The sliding face of bearings includes a stainless steel polished surface and a low friction surface where movement occurs. Many of the original bearings are now worn and distorted and need replacement. The new bearings will be made from higher grade materials to reduce the need for future maintenance.
  • There are joints between the different sections of the bridge deck. These joints allow the sections of deck to move without affecting the road surfacing, preventing water leaking onto the bearings beneath. Many of the original joints now need replacing with modern equivalents.
  • Bridge decks have a waterproofing membrane beneath the road surfacing and above the concrete bridge deck. This membrane prevents surface water soaking through the concrete reinforcement and allowing rusting to develop. As a result of heavy traffic the road surface and waterproofing beneath have failed and become distorted. This scheme is the most efficient way to co-ordinate the replacement of surfacing and waterproofing.

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