Bognor’s town centre works extension ‘unacceptable’

Shops located where London Road and the High Street meet are currently blocked off after a setback
Shops located where London Road and the High Street meet are currently blocked off after a setback

A two-month delay in completing improvement works to the High Street continues to have a major effect on town centre trade.

Town centre manager Toyubur Rahman will write to West Sussex County Council, the project managers, to express business owners’ growing frustration.

Toyubur Rahman says what's been done so far has been positive

Toyubur Rahman says what's been done so far has been positive

The £600,000 work to semi-pedestrianise the High Street and upgrade part of London Road started in February, and will now run until the middle of July, instead of finishing in May as planned.

“I’m writing to the chief executive and the leader of WSCC to express mine and the business owners’ frustrations in the delay, especially in the High Street where businesses have been blocked off for four or five months and have been badly affected,” Mr Rahman said.

“Now the work won’t be finished until mid July, that’s almost six months, and two months longer than what was promised.

“That means it running into peak trading months and towards the end of summer.

“The workman on site have done a fantastic job, but the frustration is down to how it’s been planned and managed.”

As reported, the landlord of the William Hardwicke in the High Street said he had lost thousands in takings when his front entrance was blocked, because people thought the pub was closed.

The owner of the The Worx Hair and Beauty also raised safety concerns.

That phase of the project has now been completed, and Mr Rahman said the result looked good.

However, heavy machinery has been brought in to break through thick concrete where the High Street meets London Road, meaning a noisy time for shops and shoppers just as summer gets started.

Paul Wells, Arun councillor and business owner, added: “If they had done the job properly when they dug up the High Street in 2003 they wouldn’t even be here doing it again.

“Several businesses went out of business during those works and it seems like lessons then have not been learned. It’s messing with people’s livelihoods.

“Clearly the work needs to be undertaken and what they have done to the High Street, and the northern part looks very good.

“But they have had long daylight hours to get the project done so there’s no excuse for this delay.”

In response, a WSCC spokesperson said: “We have always planned for the work to be finished in time for the busy summer season and school holidays so we are pleased that this is all on track.

“We have had regular meetings with the Town Centre Manager to address any concerns from local businesses and hope the finished improvements will attract more people to the area.”