THE manager of a Horncastle retailers is blaming the town’s roadworks for a fall in trade, which she claims equates to the loss of 500 customers a week.
Sadie Burton-Metting, manager of the One Stop shop in the Bull Ring, described the consequences of the works as a “nightmare”.
She said many neighbouring business had also been hit by the works which have effectively closed the Bull Ring to passing trade for more than two weeks.
Mrs Burton-Metting said: “It has been a nightmare since the work started and most of the businesses in this area would say exactly the same.
“We have seen a big decline because usually we have a lot of workers stopping off in a morning for their cigarettes and newspapers, but that is not happening.
“We’re not getting people when they’ve finished work either. Again, that has hit us really badly.
“Because the footbridge is also closed, we’re not seeing as many schoolchildren and I’ve never known it as quiet.
“It is difficult to say at this stage how much money we have lost but I would say we’re at least 500 customers a week down on our usual figure.”
Mrs Burton-Metting claimed the footbridge at the bottom of the Bull Ring could have been kept open.
She said because the diversion for walkers took them to the light-controlled crossing further along Jubilee Bay, many people were using town centre businesses - rather than her shop.
She added: “I’m sure they could have worked on one side of the bridge and put a footpath on the other and then swapped over as the work went on.
“That would have made a big difference. At least, we’d have had some passing trade then - even if it was only people walking by.
“To be honest, the quicker the roadworks are finished the better. We’ll all be glad to see the back of them.
“I can understand the improvements have to be made, but surely there could have been a better way and we could have been consulted a lot more.”
Mrs Burton-Metting was backed by owners and staff at several other businesses who were contacted by the Horncastle News.
Pauline Atkinson, owner of Horncastle Furnishers, also said her trade had been hit.
She said: “The takings are definitely down because there just aren’t the people out and about. It has been very quiet.”
Clare Fordham, owner of Cloud Nine Crafts, said she had also seen a fall in customers and said better signage on the main roads leading into Horncastle could have helped.
She said: “I know people are saying businesses have not been affected but I don’t think that is the case.
“My takings are down and it’s got to be because of the roadworks. I do run classes so it’s not as bad for me as some other businesses.
“It is already difficult for businesses at the moment because of the recession and this is the last thing we need,
“Perhaps better signs and a bit more notice would have helped. “
Two businesses in High Street also confirmed they had seen their takings fall in the last fortnight.
Les Johnson, owner of Johnson’s Fruitiers, said: “There has been a slight decrease, especially during the week.
“To be fair, people are still coming in at weekends but there are not as many people around Monday to Friday.
“Trade can be slower at this time of year because during the summer, we get people coming from the holiday parks at Skegness for their fruit and vegetables.
“It could have been a lot worse for us if the road works had taken place then.”
Mr Johnson said he was also concerned about congestion in parts of the town on the main diversion route.
He added: “The traffic is snarled up first thing in a morning and some of the routes are used by for ambulances. I’d hate to think they might get stuck in the traffic. There should be more restrictions on parking in areas like #West Street until the works are finished.”
Mr Johnson said more could have been done to warn people about the works and pointed out better signs on the outskirts of the town would have helped.
He added: “If you into Horncastle from any direction, the first signs you see start with ‘Horncastle’ closed.
“You don’t have time to see the wording underneath which says it’s the South Bridge that is closed.
“I wonder how many people have been put off coming into town because of those signs?”
Paul Wilkinson, manager of RS Wisbey’s butchers in High Street, said he had been told people were shopping in Woodhall Spa, rather than Horncastle.
He added: “We have not been too badly affected although we’re relying more on our regulars than passers-by.
“We’ve been a little bit quieter but that’s because there’s little or no window shopping going on.
“People are doing what they have to do and aren’t hanging around because of the delays and the problems getting into town.”
Kevin Addison, manager of the Ship Inn, was one of the few traders who said business had not been affected.
He said: “I’ll be glad to see things back to normal but I can’t say it’s bothered us too much,.
“Business is probably slightly down but let’s face it, the work needed doing and there probably isn’t a good time for it to happen.
“Whenever they’d have done it, someone would have moaned. It would have been worse for us in
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Weather for Horncastle
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: South west