The work on Cornmarket which began in 2001 is set to continue long into the New Year. There will, however, be respite for beleaguered traders as work ceases over the Christmas period. The repairs, which have been causing pedestrian congestion and obstructed the entrances to many businesses on Cornmarket Street, will be halted on the 31st of October and resumed on the 19th of January, in order not to disrupt trade and upset shoppers during the busy Christmas shopping and January sales period. Despite promises earlier this year that the £3.2 million project would be finished by the end of this month, the unexpected discovery of underground pipes and utility company cables has provided the latest setback in a series of problems to strike the project. Work to repair the pedestrianised Cornmarket Street was originally estimated to cost £1.5 million and last only a few months. However, a string of technical difficulties and legal wranglings have led to spiralling costs. In July 2002, the county council’s original plan to pave Cornmarket with granite had to be abandoned after a year and over £1 million expenditure when officials realised that cracks were appearing in the paving stones. The work already completed had to be ripped up and is now in the process of being replaced by a more suitable asphalt surface. A spokesman from Boswells, one of the businesses affected by the ongoing repair work told Cherwell, “the problems which the repairs have caused for traders have been well documented. However, we are looking forward to the forthcoming clearing of the street for Christmas shopping.” John Moyle, managing director of Boswells, speaking on behalf of Cornmarket traders, stated that “traders need to be given a decent opportunity to get back some of the money they have lost as a result of this scheme.” Student Ryan Amesbury said the situation is “beyond belief, it’s impossible to tell what is temporary and what has been finished.” Another helpfully suggested that the Union provided a quiet shortcut during busy periods. Project planners expect the work to be completed by Easter next year.ARCHIVE: 0th Week MT2003