Beccles businesses struggle amid month-long roadworks
PUBLISHED: 15:21 16 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:22 16 December 2018
Businesses in Beccles are struggling after continuous roadworks have left their shopping district a ghost town in the lead up to Christmas.
Since the beginning of November, arterial roads into Beccles have been clogged up with roadworks causing small businesses to suffer in their busiest period.
Construction on George Westwood Way became a frequent sight on the shopping stretch throughout November after a new pedestrian crossing was installed.
But after a series of delays and works on the Southern Relief Road, the roads in Beccles have only just reopened on Monday after more than five weeks.
As well as the arterial roads being closed for more than a month, Station Road was also shut for nine days for gas works.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous and councillors Mark Bee and Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw attempted to have Station Road reopened and operating on a under remote traffic control system to encourage shoppers into the area for late night shopping.
But according to the councillors, Suffolk Highways said they didn’t want to reopen Station Road in the fear it would confuse people.
Beccles mayor Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw said: “On what should have been the busiest evening of the year for our shops, Christmas Light Switch on, the main artery into the town was closed.”
Green councillor Caroline Topping agreed and said the small businesses have suffered throughout the roadworks,
She said: “This has stopped traffic coming through to Beccles and it has not helped small businesses.
“The shops are feeling this is taking away business, the shops are suffering. We don’t want our independent stores to die,” Mrs Topping said.
As an initiative to bring people into the town centre for Christmas, the Beccles Business and Tourism Association have funded free parking in Beccles from 12pm to 6pm on Saturday, December 15 and 22, to bring customers into town, but it could be too late for Christmas shoppers.
Christine Pinsent, who owns the Saxon Alternative Therapy Centre, said: “At a time of national and local economic uncertainty every local independent business is relying on retaining and attracting new customers and especially during their busiest trading month.
“It is more economically viable to shop at small businesses,” she added, “Beccles is open for business”.
Suffolk Highways were contacted for comment, but had not repsonded by the time this story went to press.