Upset as village high street set to close for five months

Alfriston High Street - Mary and Malcolm Chapman at Chestnuts (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-191017-104449008
Alfriston High Street - Mary and Malcolm Chapman at Chestnuts (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-191017-104449008

The news that a village high street will close for five months due to roadworks has sparked upset among traders.

The roadworks are set to be carried out by South East Water in Alfriston in the new year, between January and June, which will see no through road for traffic and could affect footfall for businesses.

Diane Moreton and Joy Frances-Tatem of The Singing Kettle

Diane Moreton and Joy Frances-Tatem of The Singing Kettle

Joy Frances-Tatem, 47, manager at The Singing Kettle, said, “It is going to be a nightmare. I think a lot of businesses are worried about the loss of earnings. We are going to be crying into our purses.

“Despite how South East Water has worded the road closure notices, people new to the area are going to be put off from coming to the village.

“The fact it went from a 10-week closure to five months is ridiculous.

“Why SEW didn’t do anything when the roads were dug up years ago, I don’t know. Common sense should prevail.

Penny MacLeod at the Shop Coffee House

Penny MacLeod at the Shop Coffee House

“There’s been an issue with the leaks before. They knew that the last time they had the roads dug up.”

Diane Moreton, 54, waitress at The Singing Kettle, said, “I think correct signage is important because last time people just turned around out of the village. It should say ‘businesses are still open’.”

Penny MacLeod, 39, at the Shot Coffee House, said, “I think there needs to be a lot of publicity saying the businesses and cafes are still open, otherwise it could be detrimental to trade.

“We do have a leak down the twitten and another one at the side of the building, so there’s work needed to be done.

Alfriston High Street - Diana at Diana's Interior design (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-191017-104352008

Alfriston High Street - Diana at Diana's Interior design (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-191017-104352008

“I think signage would be good and the council could promote us. We need promotion saying ‘we are here, we are open’.”

Lynn Attfield, 62, and Michael Luttig, 48, owners at the Badgers Tea House, said, “The true die hard customers will still come in, but it will have an impact on the village.

“There is nothing we can really do, it has to be done.

“If we all work together and promote the village then it should turn a negative into a positive. We need to all work together.

Alfriston High Street (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-191017-104403008

Alfriston High Street (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-191017-104403008

“The village will still be accessible. Obviously, it is work that has to be done so rather than moan and have a negative effect, people have got to be positive.”

Diana Kelly, 74, owner at the Diana Kelly Interior Design shop, said, “The works need doing. There are so many breakages, we cannot just let it be wasted. It will be wonderful for our clients because there will be no traffic.

“South East Water has been very helpful.

“They will do their best to get it done and efficiently.

“Business owners need to be pro-active. Let’s welcome people here. Let’s be positive.”

Clive Hicks, 49, owner at the Alfriston Newsagents, said, “Six or seven years ago another company dug the road up for drainage works and they saw then the water works needed replacing.

Alfriston High Street (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-191017-104341008

Alfriston High Street (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-191017-104341008

“I know we have three leaks on the go here at the shop so the work needs doing, but it should have been done the first time six years ago.

“It will have an affect on business, it did last time around and I am sure it will again this time.”

Mary Chapman, 57, at Chestnuts Bed and Breakfast and Tea Rooms, said, “It is a concern because of the length and time it is to go on for.

“We have had a couple of leaks and I am glad they are fixing the issue as it needs doing.

“We are still open, we are here, please come and support us.”

Nash Robbins, owner of award-winning bookshop Much Ado Books, said, “Of course it will affect businesses. But South East Water has chosen a quiet time for trade and we are hopeful their plans to mitigate the effects will be helpful.”

Jeremy Dufour, South East Water customer liaison manager, said, “We know roadworks of this kind cause inconvenience in the short term but the long term benefit of this work will be felt by the community for many decades to come.

“We shall endeavour to minimise the impact by getting this project completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“Given Alfriston is a major tourist destination, we are working closely with East Sussex County Council and Alfriston Parish Council, shopkeepers, business owners and local people to try to minimise the impact of the road closure by looking to undertake the majority of this project at the quietest time of year at the start of 2020.”

SEW has arranged a public drop-in session between 7pm and 9pm on October 29 at Alfriston War Memorial Hall, where local people will have the chance to meet the South East Water project team and contractors.