'We need to know what can be done''
The business community in Claudy is facing a crisis from the collapse of the bridge during the August storms.
A meeting has been called by local independent unionist councillor Maurice Devenney for next Friday, October 6, to discuss the urgent issues facing local businesses.
“We need to know what can be done and how soon,” he said.
“Money from the Department of Infrastructure needs to be forthcoming immediately because businesses are suffering badly.”
The October 6 meeting will be held in the Diamond Centre in the village with the Department, local councillors and MLAs attending.
Businesswoman Nicola Bradley, who runs The New You salon in the village, says the situation is bad now, but can only get worse as winter approaches.
“The first couple of weeks after the storms, business was down 50 percent,” she said.
“It has picked up a little from that, but I have lost all foot traffic and all school traffic as for many people it is a 13-mile round trip to get to my salon.
“It is not just me, all the businesses in Claudy are affected and people are telling me that if something is not done, they are going have to shut up shop completely.”
With the main bridge on Church Street out of action. some traffic - including lorries and buses - have been using the bridge on the Cregg Road as an alternative route.
And there are fears that if that continues for the long-term, it could be badly damaged or even be in danger of collapsing as well.
“Those roads become almost impassable in the bad weather and with winter coming, you just can’t rely on that as the source of traffic to the village,” Nicola added.
“These bridges were designed for horses and carts, not lorries and buses.
“When the bridge collapsed four weeks ago we were told it might take one year to 18 months to have the bridge repaired.
“Since then we have been told it could take one to two years.
“Businesses in Eglinton and Tullylally have had help and in Donegal a temporary bridge has been put it, but nothing is happening here.”
The public meeting is being held in the Diamond Centre, Claudy on Friday October 6 at 3.30pm.