Eastbourne traders up in arms over ongoing work
Traders in Eastbourne’s Terminus Road have spoken of their anger at ongoing works which they say are having an adverse effect on business.
Restaurateurs and independent traders say their takings have dropped dramatically due to the refurbishment work at Victoria Mansions at the seaward end of Terminus Road.
Eastbourne council bought the building and has been carrying out a multi-million pound renovation programme on the mainly retail premises on the ground floor and residential accommodation on the floors above.
Scaffold and hoarding has surrounded most of Victoria Mansions for months now with the first phase not expected to be removed until June.
Traders say the council told them the work would take 20 weeks but it has already been going on for 14 months.
At a meeting this week Eastbourne council leader David Tutt said he would work with the traders and get officers to help those that pay business rates claim relief on the charges.
The meeting was held in the premises of Cafe Belges and scores of traders attended including the owners of Qualisea Fish Restaurant, the Athens, the Rock Shop and Harleywood Diner.
Also there was Julie Hunt, who owns the Beach Hut gift shop.
She said, “Scaffolding was erected at the beginning of December 2018, covering Harry Ramsden’s, the Beach Hut, the Vintage Cafe and the Rock Shop. The scaffolding was then boarded over so the shops could no longer be seen.
“Further along the road, in the parking bays, skips, portacabins, stairways and hydraulic lifts were placed covering the few remaining shops and restaurants.
“We are now 14 months into this work and not only is the scaffolding/ hoarding still there but has been extended along almost all of the rest of the street. The businesses have suffered terribly during these 14 months and we are looking at another year at least – maybe two.
“Most of the businesses – all local people – are at least 50 per cent down on previous years and are struggling to stay open.”
The traders have the support of the Chamber of Commerce and the Eastbourne BID team and traders are now looking at ways to boost trade in the area.
An Eastbourne council spokesperson said, “We attended a meeting this week and are committed to an ongoing programme of communications to ensure they receive updates on the progress being made. We are working with traders to minimise their inconvenience. Council officers will also host a business rates surgery later this month to provide individual support and advice.
“Victoria Mansions occupies a strategically key gateway location, both to the town’s shops and restaurants, and to the seafront. The building was previously in private ownership and had fallen into a state of serious disrepair.
“The council’s restoration of Victoria Mansions will increase the availability of good quality, private rented accommodation within the town and enhance the local shopping experience. There is no doubt that the transformation will create long term social and economic benefits, in an area of town centre that has been neglected in the past.
“This is an investment for the future. The work has inevitably caused some disruption and inconvenience, but everything possible is being done to complete this essential project by the end of the year and help the commercial tenants at this time. Financial assistance has been made available, advertising signage is in place and other marketing and promotions for the area have been organised by the council.”