MP Mike Penning could take on highways chiefs in battle for compensation for Old Town traders

Old Town Roadworks, Hemel Hempstead, October 4 2013.
Old Town Roadworks, Hemel Hempstead, October 4 2013.

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning could take on county chiefs in a bid to secure compensation for Old Town traders.

He believes there may be a case for maladministration of contract against Herts Highways for the way works to create a one-way High Street have been handled.

A series of problems and delays mean the works are now running behind and traders, who have seen customers dwindle due to the continuing disruption, are struggling to stay afloat.

Mr Penning, who lives in the Old Town, says he needs to hear directly from traders on how the delays - caused by problems with the delivery of materials from China and the discovery of underground tombs - have affected their livelihoods.

Following a meeting this morning between traders and officials behind the construction project he said he will be writing to traders asking them to get in touch with him.

The next stage of the process will see Mr Penning submit a formal complaint to Herts County Council chief executive John Wood.

Depending on the outcome of this, Mr Penning could then take the case to the local government ombudsman.

“Herts Highways are supposed to be the professionals at this and I feel let down just like the businesses do,” said Mr Penning, who was the driving force behind getting the Old Town project to fruition.

“A lot of these problems could have been foreseen and dealt with very quickly.”

The law says that the ombudsman can investigate alleged or apparent maladministration or service failure. This can include; delay, incorrect action or failure to take any action, failure to follow procedures or the law, failure to provide information, inadequate record-keeping, failure to investigate, failure to reply, misleading or inaccurate statements, inadequate liaison, inadequate consultation and broken promises.

To contact Mr Penning call his office on 01442 251126 or email mike@penning4hemel.com