Dismay at 70pc trade drop...

ONE business in Beccles' Old Market has lost up to 70pc trade during renovationwork there over the pasttwo months - but traders say they remain optimistic about the future.

ONE business in Beccles' Old Market has lost up to 70pc trade during renovation

work there over the past

two months - but traders say they remain optimistic about the future.

Despite criticism over the planning behind Suffolk County Council's revitalisation project and questions over the suitability of the aesthetics of the renovations, traders agreed the works will help their businesses in the long-run.

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Andy Wright, owner and manager of Beccles Sports and Leisure in Old Market, estimated his trade had dropped by 70pc from when the works started at the beginning of April and criticised the planners for a “lack of forethought.”

He said: “No disrespect to the guys working on the changes, they've been great and really helpful. But most of the time people see all these

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bollards and assume your shop is closed.

“It would have been nice if

the council had offered to do a

few free ads in the newspaper

to say we're still open. Luckily,

I have quite a good customer base.”

Mr Wright's wife Victoria ran Bliss in Old Market, with her partner Debbie Hubbard. The shop closed recently, for reasons completely disassociated with the works, but

Mr Wright still feels that had the business still been going the

works would have caused serious problems.

He also felt that cutting parking spaces from up to 20 to five and shortening the parking time from one hour parking to 30 minutes, would have a negative effect on his business.

He believed the developments did “smarten the area up,” but were

not in keeping with Old Market's status as a conservation area.

However, he conceded the works would ultimately draw people to the Old Market area, and while the Bear and Bells has also experienced a loss in trade, mostly over lunchtime, the pub's manager Lisa Varley had stressed that there are “more plusses than negatives.”

She said: “At the end of the day the area looks a lot better than it did - when people come up from the quay the market square is the first thing they see and it's important that it looks well cared for.

“The renovation's beautiful -

they've done a fabulous job, no question.”

Meanwhile, a Beccles Town Council meeting on Tuesday night saw debate by town councillors on proposals to put tables on the new paving area outside the Bear and Bells.

The pub is keen to put tables

outside which can be used for dining. However, following similar requests from other Beccles pubs, which would also technically be using Suffolk County Council highways land, the town council agreed to meet with the county to discuss the legality of such moves.

Town councillor Alan Thwaites said: “Before we make any finite decision on this we feel it is only fair to enlist

the guidance of Suffolk County Council.”

Proposals for new tables, chairs and planters outside the King's Head were also discussed.

Town councillors said they wanted the situation to remain as it is in both cases until they had had a meeting with the county council.

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