Shop under threat as authority cuts hours

Clapham residents angry
Clapham residents angry

CLAPHAM residents have expressed their anger at a decision to restrict trading hours of the village store and coffee shop.

The Junction has been owned and run by Neil Austine and Mark Woods for the last two years and is considered as a hub of the community.

But now there are fears for its future after the South Downs National Park Authority ruled that the shop can only be open between the hours of 8am and 6pm from Monday to Saturday, to protect the amenities of the occupiers of nearby properties.

The change means the end of evening knit and natter meetings as well as events such as Easter egg hunts, Hallowee’n parties and Belloc day.

Mr Austine, of Angmering, said: “This will have a huge impact on us because I cannot be versatile with these restrictions in place.

“We want to be able to open up on a nice summer evening so people can enjoy it.

“It is already difficult for me to compete with Haskins and Tesco on a daily basis but the evenings provide a good income and keep us going.

“I genuinely love this place and see it as a community asset but this planning issue is an absolute nightmare. I am trying to keep this place going for the village but it is very hard.”

Jayne Bunting, chairman of Clapham Community Association and member of knit and natter, works in the shop part time.

She said: “It was sold to Neil and Mark as a cafe and village store in 2011 but unfortunately Arun District Council did not have the right planning permission for the cafe part so Neil was asked to apply for retrospective permission.

“It is not just a shop and a cafe, it is a place that really gave birth to the villagers getting together socially.

“Without evening events the shop would not make a profit.

“The knit and natter group meets once a month and we absolutely adore it, plus it pays for half of the shop’s monthly electricity bill.

“Women of all ages meet and for many people is a lifeline- now that will have to stop.”

Resident Tina Fowler added: “We don’t want to lose this place and the community spirit that has built up around it but without extra-curricular activities we will.”