Horsham traders’ anger over 12-week roadworks

Empty shop. Crawley Road has been closed for 14 weeks for road works and Brad Patel and Mina of Chirag News are upset at losing trade. Pic Steve Robards SR1821032 SUS-180814-210043001
Empty shop. Crawley Road has been closed for 14 weeks for road works and Brad Patel and Mina of Chirag News are upset at losing trade. Pic Steve Robards SR1821032 SUS-180814-210043001

Frustrated traders have expressed their dismay over weeks of works blocking a major Horsham road which have had a ‘detrimental’ impact on their businesses.

Shops and cafes in Crawley Road are ‘open for business’ despite signs saying the road is closed.

Crawley Road has been closed for 14 weeks for road works and Brad Patel and Mina of Chirag News are upset at losing trade. Pic Steve Robards SR1821071 SUS-180814-210118001

Crawley Road has been closed for 14 weeks for road works and Brad Patel and Mina of Chirag News are upset at losing trade. Pic Steve Robards SR1821071 SUS-180814-210118001

Engineers are carrying out 12-week-long improvements to gas mains in the area which has seen the road closed in sections between Harwood Road and the Kings Road junctions over the past three weeks.

Businesses along the stretch rely on the passing trade and say the closures have led to a loss in footfall with very few vehicles passing through the area each day.

Brad Patel owns Chirag News in Crawley Road.

He said: “I am really frustrated at the moment. I am self employed, I only have a small business and I rely on passing trade.

“They (customers) are just bypassing Crawley Road at the moment because they are reading the signs saying ‘Crawley Road is shut’.

“I am so angry at the moment. This sort of work has to be done but it should be done in a proper manner.”

Gas distribution company SGN closed the road on July 25.

The firm is replacing old metal gas mains in the area with new plastic pipes, ripping up parts of the road to get to the mains.

Mr Patel said he could cope with a few weeks of works but - with the improvements set to last another nine weeks - his business would struggle with a lack of passing trade over a longer period.

“My business is not a multi-million pound business, I can’t afford to take that loss,” he said. “Next door to me is Panino and they are suffering as well.”

Giovanni Barozzi, of Panino, said the area was like a ‘little village’ and the road was a ‘main artery’.

He said: “It’s a bit of a poor show that a major A-road has closed for such a long time. Everyone relies on this A-road.

“The longer it goes on for the less business we will have. We are a passing trade business and it does have detrimental affect on us.”

He said more needed to be done to let drivers know businesses remain open and called for covers to be put over the works when engineers weren’t on site so the road could be re-opened.

Signs have been put up saying businesses remain open but both Mr Patel and Mr Barozzi said they were too small with many drivers not noticing them.

Dan Brown, a spokesperson for SGN, said the works were being undertaken to ensure the area has a ‘continued safe and reliable gas supply’.

He said a compensation scheme had been put in place by the firm for those suffering ‘genuine losses’.

He said: “Our engineers are working between 7am and 7pm on weekdays, and between 8am and 4pm on Saturdays, to minimise the length of disruption to the local community.

“We informed local residents and businesses of road closures which would affect them in advance. We have a compensation scheme in place for local businesses which suffer a genuine loss of trade because of our work. Affected businesses can find further information about our compensation scheme on our website.”