Pedestrians and staff have faced an “absolute nightmare” for weeks after a deep hole opened up on a city street.
A “3ft-deep” hole appeared on Friargate before Easter following a leak, causing headaches for workers at a neighbouring shop as well as passers-by.
The hole was filled this week, but staff branded the situation “laughable” as a board and safety barriers were left blocking the pavement.
“The pavement just collapsed and there was a 3ft hole in the middle of it”, said Shirley Wilson, who helps at Wonderland on Friargate.
The leak was fixed by United Utilities on the day of the incident, but the hole was not repaired.
Shirley said: “They fixed it and put an orange plastic barrier around, but the following morning it was all up Friargate.” She said the hole was covered with a board and barriers, but wasn’t secured.
She said: “People were tripping and trying to climb over the pile of rubbish. Anyone who came to deliver parked next to it and nobody could get past it. It’s been an absolute nightmare.”
United Utilities filled the hole on Tuesday, but Shirley said: “They’ve just put back the board because the hole is filled but there’s still no pavement - they haven’t put the flags back and they’ve just pulled the orange fences on top. It’s still a mess.”
Shirley said she and her daughter Joanne, who runs the boutique, were concerned about elderly and disabled people and parents with prams struggling to negotiate the hole.
She added: “It should have been a decent month for the shop but nobody can walk past without looking at the pavement so nobody is looking at the window and it’s been absolutely dead. It’s very frustrating, and the shop has been struggling as a result.
“Every morning we had to try to make it safe around the hole and every morning we would come and they had blown over or been dragged.
“We had to move it just to get into the shop.”
Polly Rourke of United Utilities said: “This is a very unusual situation and we’re looking into what could have gone wrong.
“The hole was originally barriered-off by the council, who reported a water leak, which we repaired on April 17.
“We backfilled the hole on Tuesday and we will fully reinstate the footpath today, so that the council can remove its barriers and get things back to normal.
“We still need to come back and put some flagstones back, which need to be ordered, but at least the path will be usable in the meantime.
“We’re really sorry about the inconvenience and we’ll make contact with the shopkeeper to explain what’s happening.”