TRADERS say work to replace a gas main in a busy Littlehampton town centre street has had a “disastrous” effect on their businesses.
One Beach Road shopkeeper estimates his takings are down by as much as 50 per cent and others have been almost as badly affected.
Businesses on the lower, western side of the road have been virtually walled in by fencing around the pipe-laying site, and the situation has been made worse by temporary signs prohibiting parking on the opposite side, preventing passing traffic from stopping nearby.
Robert McAlees, owner of Littlehampton Pet Supplies, said: “Business must be down about 50 per cent. The last few weeks have been a disaster.
“I understand that the weather not being good has stopped them being as quick as they can with the work, but it’s frustrating for us when you see no one working on the site at times.”
The shop’s passing trade has been particularly badly hit, with the parking restrictions preventing regular customers from stopping outside.
Mr McAlees said the work had come as a double-whammy for his business – he has another shop at Goring which suffered when similar work was carried out there last year.
He has claimed for compensation for loss of trade there, but is still waiting to be paid, and will be making a further claim for his Beach Road Shop.
Darshan Singh, owner of Littlehampton Fish and Chips, in Beach Road, estimated the takings there were down 25-40 per cent.
“It’s difficult for people to park – they are having to go round in a big circle to find somewhere. It is worrying. We suspect some of our customers are going elsewhere,” he said
Chris Burgess, of Dean Carpets, had a similar story to tell.
“We are lucky as we have other sources of income bringing the money in, but the other Saturday morning we didn’t have a single customer in the shop.”
Laura Varney, spokeswoman for Southern Gas Networks, said: “We currently have a live piece of equipment in place temporarily, so traders can still benefit from a safe and secure gas supply, while we carry out our essential works. For safety reasons, this is why the council suspended parking on one side of the street.
“Throughout the work we have been working closely with West Sussex County Council to plan work accordingly so it keeps disruption to a minimum and shoppers can still access a car park on the same street.
“Any business who can prove they have suffered a loss of trade can apply for our compensation scheme and we look at each case on an individual basis.”