Henfield is reeling from the shock news that its petrol station will remain closed, possibly until next autumn.
Following on the heels of an announcement from Shell last week, that the garage would be open by spring, came another on Tuesday this week.
The latest means that there will be no petrol filling station inoperation until late summer at the earliest – and possibly even later.
Traders and residents alike are furious about the situation. They have described the site as ‘a heap of rubble’, ‘a complete bomb site’ and ‘an eyesore at the very entrance to what used to be a vibrant village’.
Mike Beardall, chairman of Henfield Enterprise said: “We are completely wiped out by this news. Just as we thought we could see progress for early next year.
“Now we have the best part of another year to wait and it will be three years, not just without a garage but with an eyesore that everyone asks about all the time.
“It is the number one topic of conversion in the village - and the graffiti on the fence around the site says it all. There is a picture of a snail around the Shell with the words ‘Come on Shell, get a move on!”
“Trade has been badly hit and shoppers are getting their petrol by going to Tesco at Holmbush and doing their shopping there in many cases.”
Henfield Parish Council was told by a Shell representative that works are currently scheduled for early January, however the programme of works is set to take in the region of seven to nine months, much longer than originally thought. The earliest reopening would be in the third quarter of 2013.
Andrew Braxton, south manager for Shell, said in a statement: “We need to co-ordinate with and agree working processes around the various on site utilities, which has delayed our programme.
“The site works cannot start until this is all resolved, but we hope agreements will be in place within the next few weeks. We have no desire to keep the site closed longer than necessary. The overall works programme is anticipated to take around nine months.
“ We need to allow a further two months to divert the existing utilities.
“The access to Golden Square will be diverted when work starts in that part of the site. We hope to start work shortly after New Year to avoid any Christmas disruption .”