'˜It's killing us': Eastbourne station trader speaks out over rail strikes

A small business owner at Eastbourne Railway Station has spoken out about the effect the rail strikes are having on trade.

Friday, 6th January 2017, 12:14 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:01 pm
Bella's Secret at Eastbourne Railway Station SUS-170601-115439001

The disruptions to train services, particularly since the driver’s union ASLEF announced it would also strike, has seriously reduced the commuter footfall at the station, with some businesses seeing takings fall by half.

Isabella Friedman, owner of coffee and cake shop Bella’s Secret, said, “It’s killing us. We have had to let go of half of our staff.

“It’s a very sad situation to put people into but we had no choice.

“It’s been really bad times – there have been days when we have had to close.

“It’s like we are in a boxing ring with two other parties, and we are the ones getting hurt. We have to pay the price.

“The only way to continue is if they stop. It would be heartbreaking if they couldn’t resolve it.”

Meanwhile, traders across the station concourse have said they have had to close early due to lack of business.

AMT coffee employees said that, while they normally serve around 200 drinks by 9am, they have gone whole days only serving just 150 cups in total.

The shop has also been forced to open late and close early, some days closing at 4pm – when its usual closing time is between 7.30pm-8pm.

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell has written to the rail minister asking him to compensate traders, like Bella’s Secret, who have seen their takings plummet during this turbulent time.

She said, “These traders have become the latest victims of this dispute through absolutely no fault of their own and I am hoping the minister will do something to help them through this extremely difficult period.

“Small businesses are vital to the prosperity of Eastbourne and the UK as a whole and I will be pressing hard to ensure they are not forgotten during the dispute and that something constructive is done to support them.”