Traders fear election year full of road works: “Customers suddenly no longer reach us” (Kortrijk)

Traders fear election year full of road works: “Customers suddenly no longer reach us” (Kortrijk)
Traders fear election year full of road works: “Customers suddenly no longer reach us” (Kortrijk)

Henk and Sabine from Broodwinkel Soens in Heule. — © rr

In the year before the local elections, many road works are traditionally planned. Unizo fears the consequences for the small self-employed. “Local authorities pay too little attention to the nuisance.”

The bread was inviting in the store. Everything was laid out for what was supposed to be another busy day in Broodwinkel Soens in Heule, a sub-municipality of Kortrijk. And then the street was closed. “They were actually going to carry out work on September 27,” says manager Sabine Desmet. “But those works did not go ahead, and they started on October 9. We didn’t know anything.”

The street was open for three weeks. The email that was supposed to announce the works was accidentally not sent, the city apologized. But that did have serious consequences for the managers. “People could not enter our street from the Gullegem side, on the other side it said ‘except local traffic’ and we noticed that people did not take the risk. Only a third or less of our regular clientele came,” says Sabine. “We had to donate a lot of bread to the food banks because it was not sold. Some products have gone bad and we have had to throw them away.”

No exception

Danny Van Assche.

Danny Van Assche. — © Luc Daelemans

According to business organization Unizo, the story is no exception. “In too many places it is forgotten to inform entrepreneurs that work is underway,” says managing director Danny Van Assche. That is why he is now sounding the alarm. Because we are a year before the local elections, a period in which municipal and city authorities traditionally still carry out a lot of minor road works. “Too often, local traders are faced with a fait accompli. The consequences of poor accessibility, power failure or a failing internet connection can be very serious. Local authorities pay too little attention to this.”

“Too often local traders are faced with a fait accompli”

Danny Van Assche


If traders are informed, and in an ideal world even involved, they can prepare and adapt. “For example, by providing alternative parking options or making agreements with customers and suppliers.” In the case of Broodwinkel Soens, they could have made it clear to all customers that the store would be accessible provided a detour was taken. “But it was too late,” says Sabine.

48 hours in advance

The Code for Infrastructure and Utility Works along Municipal Roads states that residents and traders must be informed at least 48 hours before the start of minor works. Unizo believes that the warning should be sent out two weeks in advance. The Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities recognizes the importance of sharing that information. “But be aware: not all works are commissioned by municipalities,” says spokeswoman Nathalie Debast. “For example, when working on the electricity grid or fiber optic network, it is up to the contractors in question to communicate. And we can only agree that it is necessary for this to happen on time.”

The article is in Dutch


Tags: Traders fear election year full road works Customers suddenly longer reach Kortrijk


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