Controversial cycle lane roadworks blamed for “killing Christmas trade”

Controversial cycle lane roadworks blamed for “killing Christmas trade”

Business owners in Clevedon have claimed ongoing roadworks to install a new segregated cycle lane and one-way system along the North Somerset city’s seafront are responsible for “ending the Christmas shopping season” as locals struggled to reach their shops.

Traders in the seaside town have told SomersetLive that the roadworks, combined with the new one-way system on nearby Hill Road and confusing signage, have meant customers have stayed away, while a landlord last month closed his pub early due to road closures and cordoning ahead his business.

North Somerset Council’s plans to improve Hill Road and The Beach in Clevedon include the creation of a cycle lane in both directions, new cycle parking, widening the pavement along the seafront and the construction of parklets in front of cafes. Additional parking spaces were also created at the east entrance to Hill Road to replace spaces that were removed due to the installation of four new pedestrian crossings as well as loading bays for local businesses.

The speed limit on the seafront and surrounding streets – where a cyclist was fatally injured in a collision with a car in September 2020 – is to be reduced to 20mph and a one-way street will also be introduced.

According to the council, the program, which is due to be completed early next year, aims to “encourage more walking and cycling in the city” as part of its “commitment to promoting healthier lifestyles and addressing the climate emergency”.

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While a public consultation found that 50 percent of local residents supported the plans, compared to 42 percent who opposed the scheme, a community group called Save Our Seafront has launched a high-profile campaign against the cleanup, writing a petition to the council attracted over 6,000 signatures.

North Somerset Conservative MP and former Cabinet Secretary Liam Fox is among locals opposed to the measures and tweeted earlier this year that “large numbers” were attending a protest “on a cold and windy January day against the council’s plans of North Somerset to destroy ours, seafront with a cycle path which is neither needed nor wanted nor a wise use of scarce resources.”

And now the roadworks needed to complete the project have been blamed for driving customers out of local shops and restaurants in the run up to Christmas.

While improvements to Hill Road have been largely completed and widely praised by local traders, barriers and cones continue to be a regular sight along the coast, despite claims from the council that the work is “essentially complete”.

Fenella Sandford, who runs Fizz Gallery, told SomersetLive this week: “The improvements made to Hill Road this year are fantastic and have made the area a much better place. But what has scuppered the holiday season is the coastal road works, making it difficult for people to access Hill Road.

“There is no proper signage telling people how to get to Hill Road while working or how the one-way system works and people find it confusing. We have repeatedly asked the Council to carry out the work in February and March to avoid the run-up to Christmas.

“Our trade has gone down a lot and that’s because it’s difficult to get here. If it’s not easy for people to get here and park, people just go somewhere else.”

“Right now it can be difficult to get here because of the one-way system and road works,” says Masa Tucker, owner of Butterflies Café.

“The drivers were not made aware of how to get to Hill Road. Many of my clients come here by car and rely on either being dropped off or being able to park.

“During the initial work on Hill Road we lost 40 percent of our revenue. The coastal road works have affected our trade, especially in the last month.”

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Amy Hughes, the owner of Indulgence Chocolate on Hill Road, has mixed feelings about the new road layout and believes potential customers are confused by the signage in the area.

“We’ve had a lot of feedback that it’s difficult for people to come here,” she said.

“It’s a combination of roadworks and the new one-way system and confusing signage. I have mixed feelings about the one way system.

“It has become more comfortable for pedestrians, but we have lost parking spaces and it is also difficult to get deliveries to the shops. There is ample parking nearby and this needs to be made clear. And the council needs to regulate public transport to the area.”

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In response to the complaints, a spokesman for North Somerset Council said: “We had requested that some temporary signage directing visitors to Hill Road be put up at Six Ways and a change made to the existing signage on Elton Road to accommodate visitors along The Beach and head up Alexandra Road.

“The improvements to Hill Road have provided more space for shoppers with a widened walkway on the north side, which retailers are now using for outdoor seating. In addition, we have created new pedestrian crossings where none previously existed and created new car parks on Elton Road.

“There are currently a number of other organizations doing roadwork in the area. Work on The Beach was essentially completed on December 2nd.

“The current global financial situation has contributed to a cost of living crisis that may also be a factor in public Christmas spending. The above changes to Hill Road and improvements to The Beach are intended to help boost the local economy.”

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