Traders anger at petrol station closure

JPCT-31-05-11 SC11211154a HENFIELD angry traders at the disused Shell petrol station site. Claire Lethby, Sue and John willis, Mike Beardall, Eddie Etheridge   -photo by steve cobb

JPCT-31-05-11 SC11211154a HENFIELD angry traders at the disused Shell petrol station site. Claire Lethby, Sue and John willis, Mike Beardall, Eddie Etheridge -photo by steve cobb

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CONCERNED traders in Henfield’s High Street say the continued closure of a petrol station is impacting on their businesses.

In April the County Times reported that the Shell site in the village had been shut for several months and an investigation was underway into soil and groundwater contamination.

Mike Beardall, chairman of Henfield Enterprise, the local chamber of trade and commerce, said they had seen less people in the High Street and the village.

“People used to come via Henfield because the Shell garage was convenient. They don’t seem to be doing so now and are going elsewhere for their petrol and therefore their shopping.”

High Street traders had noticed a ‘significant and serious drop’ in business recently, he added.

“We thought it was down to the economic climate but then realised the garage was a focal point for people coming into the village. It brings a lot of cars into the village and therefore trade.”

Mr Beardall said there was growing concern about the state of the site and its future from traders.

It was in the most beautiful part of the village and he added: “To see a thriving garage is better than seeing a building site.”

If the garage closed altogether there were fears for the future of many High Street shops, he said.

John Willis, who owns gift shops Village Care and Top Shelf, said: “We have really seen a distinct decline in our sales.”

He believed this was down to the closure of the petrol station.

“I’m concerned for the future of all of us and it’s definitely having a knock-on effect. It’s doing us, the traders in the village, no good whatsoever.”

Amy Nevatt, from Jasmines Florist, said: “I think trade has generally been quiet and we’re just thinking could it possibly be because of the petrol station closing down? Are people changing their routines?”

She believed they could by ‘bypassing’ the village. “I think the village not having a petrol station will really affect us.”

Audrey Goodchild, owner and founder of Accountancy and Business Matters, said: “One of the factors that hasn’t helped the High Street recently is the closure of the petrol station.

“Recently the figures show that footfall in the High Street has gone down by about half.”

That may not all be down to the closure of the petrol station but she added: “Certainly it has had a big impact on the village.”

Claire Lethby, owner of Hamfelds Hardware, said: “It’s definitely having an effect on us. It’s a lot quieter since it’s been shut.”

People were going elsewhere for their petrol and shopping, she told the County Times.

The County Times contacted Shell last week asking for a response to the concerns. But as the paper went to press yesterday afternoon no response had been received from the company.

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