Kelly Harding, 32, who owns Bella June Flowers in Keymer Road, said she was ‘livid’ to see construction equipment and barriers outside her shop on Monday (December 20), as well as temporary four-way traffic lights nearby.
“I had to fight to keep my shop open because they said they had permits to close the footpath outside and completely divert people around,” said Kelly.
She said West Sussex County Council had made a ‘poor decision’ to carry out repairs to the drains on a week where traders count on people shopping locally before Christmas.
Bella June Flowers relies on ‘walk-in’ trade, she said, where people enter the shop after spotting something in the window.
“Everyone’s avoiding us now,” said Kelly, adding that on a normal Christmas week she would see ‘back-to-back customers’.
“I’ve got pre-orders of flowers coming this week that aren’t going to sell,” she said.
Kelly said the roadworks were affecting other businesses in Keymer Road too and that many people were ‘avoiding the high street completely’.
She added that increased traffic is discouraging drivers from coming into the village as well.
Kelly said the situation is frustrating because most of Hassocks’ shops will be closed next week.
“The council wouldn’t have been disturbing anyone if they’d have just held off a week,” she said.
The roadworks also mean delivery vehicles cannot pull up outside Bella June Flowers and staff are having trouble hearing customers on the phone because of the drilling, said Kelly.
“The last time they were here staff all had headaches by lunchtime,” she said, explaining that the roadworks had previously been started in the week leading up to Light Up Hassocks (December 2).
These should have been completed earlier this month but the team had to come back to finish the job, said Kelly, adding that it was inconvenient then as well.
But she said shop owners had received an advance warning about the previous works and had not been given any notice this time.
Kelly said she wants the work done ‘more than anyone’ because flooding has cost her thousands over the years.
But she wants better decision making around when this happens.
“Everyone’s completed their shopping really by Christmas eve,” she said. “We’ll be lucky if we get anyone in those last few days.”
A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “This is an area which has flooded in the past, threatening a number of properties, so local businesses asked us to investigate and take action.
“These are urgent works to repair the highway drainage system and hopefully prevent future flooding.
“Works of this nature can be disruptive and they have taken longer than first anticipated, for which we apologise. However, given the additional flood resilience this new system will provide, officers decided that completion before Christmas would be the safer course of action: any further delay would have left the site vulnerable to similar flooding.”