Traders in Hampden Park say they will be very much open for business despite plans to close the level crossing this coming weekend.
The signal box is due to be demolished and new signalling equipment installed at the busy crossing from 10pm Friday February 13 through until 4am Monday morning (February 16).
Network Rail says the crossing, one of the busiest in Europe, will be closed – much to the fury and annoyance of traders who say it could not have come at a worst time as the Valentine’s weekend is one of their busiest in the year.
Both Petals Florists and Paperlane are reminding people that it’s business as usual over the weekend and all shops will be open.
Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd said he also intervened in the issue and urged Network Rail to change the date.
He received an email from the firm’s James Bates saying the works have been planned for some time and are part of a major project to “upgrade signalling in East Sussex to improve the reliability of services for passengers and reduce journey times to and from Eastbourne” and that “safety on the crossing will also be improved to meet latest standards as part of the work”.
Mr Bates said, “We are aware of a number of local business owners unhappy at the decision to close the crossing on what is a very important weekend for them. I asked the project team to consider whether it would be possible to reopen the crossing on the Saturday for a period of time but due to the amount of work we need to complete in a short period, this is not possible.”
Mr Lloyd said, “I am extremely disappointed with Network Rail’s response and leave the company to imagine the consequences for, in particular, the florist this coming Valentine’s Day weekend if the barriers are down in Brassey Parade. I don’t think I am exaggerating to say it could be a mortal blow for the business.
“Other independent traders in Brassey Parade are also going to be grievously affected so I would urge Network Rail, even at this late stage, to find some way to allow vehicles to pass for a few hours during Saturday.”
The signal box, which is not listed, is being demolished and signalling will be controlled at a centre in Three Bridges.