Town Centre traders bemoan regeneration works

Business owners in Montague Place SUS-160217-131423001
Business owners in Montague Place SUS-160217-131423001

MONTAGUE Place traders have expressed disappointment over disruptions during work to revamp the high street.

Businesses located along the road are reportedly 20 to 30 per cent down on takings compared to the same period last year.

They claim the reason is disruption from the £1.2million improvement works currently taking place.

Traders were told in December that the phase one roadworks would disrupt their businesses as the work on Montague Street is blocking Montague Place entrance from the centre.

Yvonne Norman, owner of Luna restaurant, said: “People have stopped coming and so it is getting desperate for our businesses. Last autumn I noticed an increase because the summer works were finished, but now I am 30 per cent down on my takings from last winter.”

Traders were also informed through a newsletter last week that phase two of works – which would see Montague Place pedestrianised – does not have a start date.

Town centre manager Sharon Clarke said the date was never confirmed, while Worthing Pier county councillor Michael Cloake believes the works will still go ahead, despite funding sources unclear.

Mrs Clarke said: “What we have said all along is that every business will unfortunately have to pay.

“But if you do not focus on regenerating the town, then we will fast become the worst-looking town in Sussex. We should be celebrating £1.2 million of funding for phase one.

“Certainly what we are trying to do is minimise the pain as much as possible.

“The work has started now in winter during the quietest time of year for trade, and that is deliberate.”

There were also concerns about the lack of parking for customers, as builders have been given access to a number of spaces.

Liverpool Gardens will also be closed for a week in March when the new tiles are shipped in.

Elaine Mulrey, owner of Altered Image Tailoring, said: “We are getting penalised and losing parking spaces, and so we have lost business. January to March is the quietest time but I am still losing money.”

Asanjay Patel, Subway franchise owner added: “Because of everything that’s going on, people block the road so customers just walk on by. They don’t want to sit next to roadworks.”

Stefano Santi, owner of the Bravo Cafe, only arrived from Italy last June.

“There is no improvement for me,” he said.

“I wasn’t expecting this when I moved in, and it’s not good for someone starting up a new business.”

Mrs Clarke said she was attempting to address the issues with car parking.

She said: “Car parking is an issue but I have approached the council and those decisions are ongoing. I have also agreed to move some of these cars onto Liverpool Gardens.

“I can’t do anything in the short term as I don’t get public funding, but what I am trying to do is solve the local parking situation for those owners.”

The improvement works will see a new covered seating area installed, red and gray paving laid and a new performance area.

The rotunda – commonly known as the bandstand – has now been demolished.

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