A ‘NIGHTMARE’ road closure has seen Chard businesses claim they lose more than 100 customers each day, despite the plan being to help shops reopen.

Traders on Holyrood Street have hit out after barriers were installed last Tuesday (June 16), the day after non-essential shops could reopen.

The blockade is to turn away drivers, except for those with deliveries, while still allowing pedestrian access.

But shops say they are struggling to get their much needed supplies in, and footfall has fallen dramatically.

Andrew Emery, of Emery’s Newsagents, said: “The road closure which came into effect one day after shops reopened to large crowds has been a total nightmare.

“With the road being closed off, it looks very off-putting to shoppers, walking or driving. People think the street including shops are closed.

“We have lost more than 100 customers per day. This is a big loss for smaller shops, and even more so for ones who had shut for three months. They came back to a busy Monday, then saw customers drop off by the hundreds.”

Despite councils saying traders were consulted, shop owners said they did not know before the road was suddenly shut in last week.

Andrew added: “It is very frustrating that we were not informed nor asked about this crazy decision. Do they not realise people have shopped on our street with social distancing and without this ‘help’ just fine.”

Chard’s branch of Proper Job has seen an even bigger decrease in customers, meaning business is harder now than ever before in lockdown.

Chris, the store manager, said: “We have lost more than 100 customers every day, and obviously it has affected all our takings as well. We have gone from about £300 to £400 to just £130. Before the road closed, we were getting up to 300 customers in each day. Now it is only 100.”

There is also concern for the area’s elderly and disabled, who can no longer park near the shop doors.

“If it stays like this, then a lot of shops are not going to be able to continue doing business,” said Chris.

Andrew added: “It is utter madness. I have not talked to one trader who is happy nor knew anything of it.

“We are very annoyed, upset and worried about our business. We have heard it could be here for two months. How crazy and pointless.”

The road closure was brought in by a multi-agency team, meaning the county, district and town councils were all involved.

Following the complaints, a spokesman said: “Due to the pace at which these temporary schemes were required to be delivered, we simply have not had the time to undertake the consultations that would normally be carried out for this type of scheme, although we did try to reach all businesses in advance.

“We recognise we will need to adjust and adapt the scheme as required and all feedback will be considered.

"We appreciate these measures do not provide the same access motorists are used to, but we are trying our very best to keep visitors as safe as possible, while supporting our businesses to reopen.”

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