‘Roadworks are costing us trade’: Eastbourne shopowners speak out over town centre disruption

Manager Azram Rahman and owner Simon Thevthas at RFC takeaway, Eastbourne 04-04-19
Manager Azram Rahman and owner Simon Thevthas at RFC takeaway, Eastbourne 04-04-19

Shopkeepers opposite the railway station have said the ongoing roadworks are ‘destroying’ trade.

Businesses along the stretch, which is being repaved by East Sussex County Council, all reported issues with footfall and visibility due to the works, which are expected to last into the summer.

Azram Rahman, manager at RFC takeaway, from the other side of the roadworks in Eastbourne town centre 04-04-19

Azram Rahman, manager at RFC takeaway, from the other side of the roadworks in Eastbourne town centre 04-04-19

It’s not the first time businesses have expressed frustration: Eastbourne town centre works delayed

Simon Thevthas, who owns takeaway shop RFC, said he estimated the works had lost the business up to half its trade, thousands of pounds a week, while his manager Azram Rahman said it had ‘destroyed’ trade.

Azram said: “A lot of people come from the station but now all this is here they have to walk around and a lot of people don’t want to come out, it’s easier for them to go into town or go to McDonald’s rather than come to us.

“A lot of us down this street have lost a lot of trade.”

Danny Macmahon, Little Deli Sandwich Bar, Eastbourne

Danny Macmahon, Little Deli Sandwich Bar, Eastbourne

He also said he was worried about the impact of a bus stop planned right outside the shop, which would restrict the area available for the eatery to put out its licensed tables and chairs.

Flamur Rexhmati, from Pedro’s fish and chip shop next door had similar concerns about the bus stop, as the loss of taxi traffic dropping people off for takeaways had ‘massively’ affected trade.

“For nearly eight months, it’s blocked this road here, we couldn’t get taxis, now it’s okay,” he said. “But it’s not easy bringing back customers.”

Danny Macmahon, from the Little Deli sandwich bar just along from the fish and chip shop reported the same issues with footfall.

He said the family business, which opened last April, had not been told details of what was planned when buying the premises and had had to reduce its opening hours and even shut for a few months over winter to cut overheads.

“Things have got noticeably more difficult since this started, we’re unfortunate in that we opened just when it was happening, at the time when the roadworks were ramping up, we were still very new.

“We did have to shut for a bit, we’ve taken a bit of time to recover.”

He said there was a ‘bitter feeling’ about the roadworks from shopkeepers on the stretch who had missed out on trade but the sandwich bar had at least benefitted from workers dropping in for food.

He said even the workers had been frustrated at having to stop at intervals when coming across an unexpected cable or other obstacle that delayed progress.

East Sussex County Council, which is leading the improvement scheme said its contractors were working on a number of sites across the town centre to complete the scheme as quickly as possible.

A spokeswoman said: “Where work has to stop in one section of the town centre, for example where we discover cables and ducts that were not where utility companies had indicated, workers will be redeployed to progress work in another area of the scheme.

“This approach lessens the risk of delay to the scheme as a whole.”