A “Berlin Wall” blockade that has severed a Surrey town in half is killing independent shops and leaving people stranded waiting for buses that never come, according to angry business owners.
Hoardings running across Church Road in Ashford appeared earlier this month as sewer works begin as part of a housing development.
Businesses say they have since seen takings fall by 65%, with fears they will be forced to shut down permanently – although there is still access for pedestrians.
It has also affected ambulances as paramedics heading towards the hospital have been forced to make u-turns when faced with the blockade due to “poor” signage. People have also been seen waiting at bus stops for “buses that never come”.
‘Trade has been killed over night’
The chairman of business community group Ashford Wide, Michael Ramlakhan, says the blockade looks like the Berlin Wall and blames both Surrey county and Spelthorne borough councils’ failure to inform businesses sooner for shopkeepers not having enough time to prepare.
“It has cut the high street in half,” he said. “It is the main artery through the town and it has been cut in half.
“There has been very very bad communication and nobody knows what’s going on. There was a consultation done before, about 10 days before the hoardings went up. Then all the retailers in the high street with passing trade was killed over night.”
A survey of 40 of the near 100 shops carried out by Ashford Wide revealed one day’s takings at one retailer had hemorrhaged from £500 to £100.