Traders battle against village roadworks

'˜We're open' - that's the message from frustrated traders who fear their businesses may suffer as a five-week-long road closure gets underway in Billingshurst.

Traders in Jengers Mead in Billingshurst
Traders in Jengers Mead in Billingshurst

Shop owners in Jengers Mead are facing yet another challenge as contractors begin creating a new gas main along the main road through the village.

High street businesses have already had to put up with the closures of all three village banks and almost a year’s worth of disruption caused by works being carried out on the A29.

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On Monday, March 5, part of High Street was closed between High Seat Copse and the junction with Hilland roundabout and concerns have been raised the road closed signs were causing many to think Jengers Mead was unaccessible.

Mark Sheath, owner of Jengers Craft Bakery, said the signs were confusing visitors and had left the area a lot quieter.

He said: “The signs are very unclear. It’s a challenging time in the high street, in Jengers we also have the challenges of the car park.

“I think they (other traders) are a bit frustrated it’s going to be five weeks and it’s going to be over the Easter holiday as well.”

Sue Edwardes who runs the Age UK charity shop said drivers were coming half way down the road before seeing the signs and turning around.

She said: “They see the sign saying road ahead closed and they decide to turn around in the middle of the high street which is quite dangerous.

“We will try to overcome it but if people don’t come we won’t be able to do that. We are all still open and we would enjoy their company.”

Only part of High Street has been closed. Mark said shoppers could still access Jengers Mead and the best way was through the south of the village via the A272.

Billingshurst Parish Council has also supported traders and has asked West Sussex County Council to install ‘Businesses open as usual’ signs.

“It’s just making sure the message is clear,” Mark said.

“From a businesses point of view we want the houses, we want the people, we want them to shop locally so we have to go through the pain.

“It’s a challenge really but we try and be as productive and as positive to try and get people to come.”

James Congdon, who runs Billingshurst Butchers, added: “We are all still here open for business, the roadworks aren’t affecting us.”