Business owners in Clevedon have claimed that ongoing roadworks to install a new segregated cycle lane and one-way system along the North Somerset town’s seafront are responsible for “killing off Christmas trade” as locals have found it difficult to access their shops.
Traders in the seaside town have told SomersetLive that the roadworks, along with the new one-way system on the nearby Hill Road and confusing signage, have caused customers to stay away, while last month one landlord shut his pub early due to road closures and barriers being placed in front of his business.
North Somerset Council’s plans to improve Hill Road and The Beach in Clevedon include the creation of a bidirectional cycle lane, new cycle parking provision, widening the pavement along the seafront, and building parklets outside cafés. Additional car parking has also been created at the eastern entrance of Hill Road to replace those spaces removed due to the installation of four new pedestrian crossings as well as loading bays to service local businesses.
The speed limit on the seafront and surrounding roads – where in September 2020 a cyclist sustained critical injuries in a collision involving a car – is to be reduced to 20mph, and it will also be made one-way.
According to the council, the scheme – which is set to be completed early next year – “aims to encourage more walking and cycling in the town” as part of its “commitment to promoting healthier lifestyles and tackling the climate emergency”.
While a public consultation found that 50 percent of locals supported the plans, compared to 42 percent who opposed the scheme, a residents’ group called ‘Save Our Seafront’ has launched a high-profile campaign against the redevelopment, penning a petition to the council which attracted over 6,000 signatures.
The Conservative MP for North Somerset and former cabinet minister Liam Fox is among the locals opposed to the measures, and earlier this year tweeted that “huge numbers” joined a protest “on a cold and windy January day against North Somerset Council’s plans to destroy our seafront with a cycle lane that is neither needed, wanted, nor a good use of scarce resources.”
Huge numbers joined the protest on a cold and windy January day against North Somerset Councils plans to destroy our seafront with a cycle lane that is neither needed, wanted, nor a good use of scarce resources. Sign the petition against these plans 👇 pic.twitter.com/CVxLlOoG9I
— Dr Liam Fox MP (@LiamFox) January 29, 2022
And now, the roadworks required to finish the project have been blamed for driving away customers from local shops and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas.
While the improvements to the Hill Road have been largely completed, and have generally been praised by local traders, barriers and cones continue to be a regular sight on the seafront, despite the council’s claims that the work has been “substantially completed”.
Fenella Sandford, who runs the Fizz Gallery, told SomersetLive this week: “The improvements to Hill Road which were carried out this year are fantastic and have made the area much better. But what has killed the Christmas trade is the roadworks on the seafront making it difficult for people to access Hill Road.
“There is no proper signage instructing people how to get to Hill Road during the work or how the one-way system operates, and people find it confusing. We asked the council, again and again, to carry out the work in February and March to avoid the pre-Christmas period.
“Our trade has dropped a lot and that’s because it is difficult to get here. If it’s not easy for people to get here and park, people will simply go elsewhere.”
“At the moment it can be difficult for people to get here because of the one-way system and the roadworks,” says Butterflies Café owner Masa Tucker.
“It has not been made clear to drivers how to get to Hill Road. Lots of my customers come here by car and rely on either being dropped off or being able to park.
“During the original work to Hill Road we lost 40 percent of our takings. The seafront roadworks have affected our trade, particularly last month.”
Amy Hughes, the owner of Indulgence Chocolate on Hill Road, has mixed feelings about the new road lay-out, and believes that potential customers are confused by the signage in the area.
“We’ve received a lot of feedback that people are finding difficult to get here,” she said.
“It’s a combination of the roadworks and the new one-way system and confusing signage. I have mixed feelings about the one-way system.
“It’s made it a more pleasant experience for pedestrians, but we have lost parking and getting deliveries to the shops is also difficult. There is plenty of parking nearby and this needs to be made clear. And the council needs to sort out the public transport to the area.”
Responding to the complaints, a spokesperson for North Somerset Council said: “We had requested that some temporary signage directing visitors to Hill Road be placed at Six Ways and an amendment be made to the existing sign on Elton Road to direct visitors along The Beach and up Alexandra Road.
“The improvements to Hill Road have provided more space to shoppers through a widened footway on the north side which traders are now utilising for outdoor seating. In addition, we have provided new pedestrian crossing points where there were previously none and provided new car parking spaces on Elton Road.
“There are a number of other organisations carrying out roadworks in the local area currently. The works to The Beach were substantially completed on December 2.
“The current global financial situation has contributed to a cost of living crisis which may also be a factor in the public's spending this Christmas. The above changes to Hill Road and improvements to The Beach are intended to help boost the local economy.”
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.