THE announcement four days the previously advertised start of work to replace footway paving in Blandford that it had been postponed until September was greeted with anger from some but relief from others.

Town centre businesses which had been looking forward to a revival in their fortunes with the lifting of lockdown restrictions had been concerned that trade would be disrupted again when the initial start date of July 12 for work lasting throughout the summer was advertised on June 11.

And there was some confusion as to the relocation and redirection of bus stop and bus services and impact on the twice weekly market by the one-way closure of West Street and use of the Market Place.

So the postponement gave an opportunity for clarification by town and county councillor Noc Lacey Clarke at the town council meeting on the day the work had originally been scheduled to start that contractors plant in the Market Place would be removed each week to enable the Thursday market to go ahead, and half the area would be left available for the Saturday market and car parking throughout the rest of the week, where possible.

He also said that when the market needed to be relocated to one of the other car parks during the latter part of the works, the town council would not have to pay for the use of the spaces, and that the one-way system in West Street, needed for the safety of pedestrians, would only operate when absolutely necessary.

He and his fellow county councillor Byron Quayle, who have campaigned and worked ceaselessly for a number of years for the replacement of the worn and slippery paving slabs, had declared their extreme annoyance at the delay after their initial celebration of the start of work.

And he said they remained annoyed at the late notice given by the suppliers of a delay in sourcing the replacement slabs.

Dorset Council announced: “Dorset Highways has just been made aware that due to reasons outside the control of its supply chain, some of these paving units have been delayed in their production.

“In recognition of the impact to the local community that completing this scheme will have, it would not be appropriate to continue with the scheme while there is a risk of avoidable delays to its completion.

“Following discussion with Dorset County councillors, we have made the difficult decision to delay the start of this scheme until September.

“This will allow sufficient time for any further delays with materials to be accommodated and remove any impact the delivery of the scheme may have on trading over the summer period.”

Steve Bell, the owner of the Yellow Bicycle Café in Salisbury Street, said: “Like everyone in the town I'm extremely grateful for the work Byron and Noc have put in to secure the new paving slabs. They are much needed and will both improve the appearance and safety of our pavements.

“It was probably not possible to pick and choose the timing, but I must admit to being relieved that the work will not be carried out during the summer months, when local businesses are counting on a busy period of visitors bringing vital revenue after the incredibly tough sixteen months we've been through.

“We really do need the town looking it's best and feeling welcoming to holiday makers.

“In September, the disruption will be a small price to pay for the improvements to the town.”