A HELPING hand from Doncaster Council and traders committing to staying open for longer are needed to stop Mexborough becoming a ghost town, according to one business owner.
Helen McCabe, who runs the 30 Mexborough café on Bank Street, spoke of her frustration after DMBC said the crumbling flyover across Greens Way — one of the main ways into the town centre — could be closed for up to 18 months.
She said she was disappointed businesses had not been informed directly of the works — having instead to find out on social media — and feared the closure could seriously harm the fortunes of traders who were just getting back on their feet after months of lockdown.
But she said DMBC, which has advised drivers to follow a diversion to reach the town centre, could help cushion the blow by helping to bring shoppers into town.
“We don’t expect financial support as we know they’re strapped for cash but perhaps they could put on a shuttle bus that visited the two main housing areas in Mexborough and dropped people off in the town centre,” she said.
“That would help all of us rather than just helping individual businesses.”
Ms McCabe said trade had already been hit since DMBC shut the bridge a month ago for inspections.
Having discovered structural concerns, the council said the bridge would have to be shut for up to 18 months, although the dual carriageway beneath will remain open and was safe to use.
Ms McCabe said: “We did not get anything from the council at all and had to read about it all on Facebook.
“We’ve heard from the Mexborough councillors that it could be closed for 22 months as they have six months followed by a closure order.
“We’ve just been closed for a year — surely they could have done it in that time rather than waiting for businesses to reopen.”
Ms McCabe said alongside the impact of the bridge work, she was dismayed so many businesses in the town centre closed early in the afternoon — some as early as 1.30pm.
“I know it’s not nice standing in a shop until 5pm but that is how you make your business work,” she said.
“It can be like being in a ghost town these days.
“It seems no-one wants to stay open until five and only the big chains that do. But people to look at it as a business — nothing something to be played at.”
Dan Swaine, DMBC’s director of economy and environment, said the council was determined to support Mexborough traders through its Buy Local scheme and urged them to sign up to the promotional app ShopAppy,of which more details can be found at shopappy.com/doncaster to put themselves on the map.
He also highlighted the long-awaited Mexborough masterplan as a way to help shape the town’s future.
On the bridge works, Mr Swaine said: “We regularly use social media to keep people updated when we need to carry out essential works to our roads and bridges.
“It’s not always possible to let everyone know directly.”
Mr Swaine said bridges and other major structures were inspected every two years on a rolling basis.
He said the council had been monitoring the flyover in Mexborough but it had shown rapid deterioration in May with “parts of the concrete falling away from the main structure”, forcing the flyover closure.
Mr Swaine added: “The loose concrete was all removed and there is no immediate danger to traffic passing beneath.”
He did not comment on the shuttle bus suggestion but said bus services were still coming into Mexborough, with shoppers urged to use bus stops on Hartley Street instead of Bank Street.
For motorists, anyone trying to get from Leach Lane, Market Street, Church Street and Quarry Street to the town centre should to exit Greens Way via the east end roundabout.