By Sophie Norris
A daring driver who claims his business is failing due to a three-year road closure has taken matters into his own hands by breaking through its barriers.
Alan Whitehead opened Moss Farm Fisheries in 2010 but claims profits have plummeted since Hochtief and Buckingham began work on the A57 relief road in January 2013.
He believes that Peel Group, who own the road, along with Trafford Centre and MediaCity UK, are keeping it closed unnecessarily.
So on Tuesday the business owner filmed himself driving on to the closed bridge in protest at the disruption it has caused to his customers, local families and commuters. The bridge has since been barricaded.
Hochtief Construction and Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd are currently managing the ‘improvement scheme’ which has cost in access of £30million to complete and they have confirmed it is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.
Alan, 49, from Irlam, Greater Manchester, said: “It’s destroying our livelihoods. It’s affected my business and everybody else’s business around here [on Chat Moss].
“It’s horrendous and heart-breaking to see people struggling to go about their normal lives.
“[Peel Group] don’t give a damn about the community around Irlam and Cadishead.
“We have had to put the fishery up for sale. The number of times customers have called to say ‘we were just coming up to yours but the traffic is that bad we’ve had to turn round.
“I’ve got four children and my wife who live here. My neighbours are scared too.
“Thankfully we are borrowing some money off family and friends to pay bills. I borrowed some pennies off my friend to get us through Christmas.
“The road should have been open by October. It’s a sham.”
In another video, a worker from Hochtief and Buckingham claims they are ‘waiting for it to be handed over’ before it can be opened.
Now supporters on a Facebook group dedicated to the opening the bridge before Christmas, which has more than 50 members, are rallying together to organise a peaceful march across the bridge.
Alan said: “We were told we were getting a new bypass but what they didn’t tell us is they were taking another road off us. They’ve taken the A57 and given us this.
“I’m 120% a community man and my family and friends are the most important things for me.
“The amount of people that have been phoning me all day saying ‘let’s all march to the Trafford Centre while the Christmas shoppers are out.
“I’m currently waiting for the police to come – I don’t care if I get arrested. I’m prepared to do that for the sake of the people around her.
“We are British and can’t lay down and let them walk all over us. That thing I’ve done is just the start.
“I’ll do what’s right for the people of Irlam and Cadishead. It’s corporate greed – somebody has got to stand up to them.
“I almost feel like we should take the fishery off sale and keep fighting them now that I’ve sent the amount of support we have.”
Alan claims that the new road takes commuters and travellers past all of Peel Group’s key developments, including the Trafford City, MediaCity UK and the Lowry Outlet.
He claims the road, which is meant to relieve traffic, is actually forcing commuters to drive past the Trafford Centre every day.
The changes mentioned by Alan are noted on Port Salford’s website, one of Peel Group’s project, stating: ‘as part of the A57 road improvements, roundabouts at… the entrance to intu Trafford Centre have been made larger to assist traffic flows in and around these areas.’
Alan believes this is an example of ‘corporate greed’ and that the company are going ‘against the people of Irlam and Cadishead’.
Alan said: “We want to choose what whether we want to go to the Trafford Centre but this road gives us no choice. Interestingly, this new road that they’ve made takes you past a lot of [Peel Holdings’] buildings.
“Everything they [build] is beautiful but we shouldn’t persecute smaller businesses. Chat Moss is one of the nicest places in the North-West and they want to build on it.
“I opened the business because I wanted a new way of life. I used to be a landscaper.
“The jobs they create in the North-West economy is unbelievable but they are against the people around here.
“I was ill in 2010 while building the fishery and I don’t want to go through that again.
“The doctors thought I had cancer. I got the all-clear but I don’t want to go through that stress again because it’s bad for your health.
“But we’ll just have to keep struggling until we sell the place and the road opens again.”
A Peel Group spokesman said: “We are working closely with our contractors to complete the works as soon as practically possible.
“Our contractors say the project is due for completion by the end of the year.”