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Hornchurch High Street traders: ‘Roadworks are killing business - but local shops are still best’

Perry Horton of Roy's Pie and Mash Perry Horton of Roy's Pie and Mash

Thursday, April 18, 2013
10:24 AM

Traders in Hornchuch High Street paint a grim picture – continual roadworks are taking their toll on business.

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Ali Saqib, Asim Ayaz and Muhammad Shani of Aladdin's Cave hardware shopAli Saqib, Asim Ayaz and Muhammad Shani of Aladdin's Cave hardware shop

A multi-million pound regeneration project that Havering Council says will “future-proof” the area has seen roads closed and buses diverted for weeks.

It follows disruption caused by utility companies digging up the same bit of road twice in the last 18 months.

Perry Horton, who runs Roy’s Pie and Mash, told the Recorder during last week’s “Shop Local” campaign his shop lost trade permanently each time the street was shut to traffic.

“Each time the road is dug up, we lose people who don’t seem to come back,” he explained.

Traders say continual roadworks are taking a toll on businessTraders say continual roadworks are taking a toll on business

“The council talks about rejuvenating the area – but by the time it’s done people have got used to shopping in a different place.”

For Perry, the proof is in the pudding – sales are down about 40 per cent on last year.

But he still believes in the business. As well as professing to be “the best pie maker in the world”, he speaks proudly of the shop’s family history and dedication to the community.

Asim Ayaz, 27, who runs the Aladdin’s Cave hardware shop further up the high street, echoed Perry’s concerns.

Denise Commings and Kate Brett from Richard House Charity Shop.Denise Commings and Kate Brett from Richard House Charity Shop.

“There’s no business at all,” he said bluntly. “In the last two months there’s been a big drop in sales. This shop was making £2,000 a day – now it’s £120.”

The work, funded by TfL, involves paving, tree-planting and fitting new street lights.But the associated disruption is hitting businesses of all shapes and sizes – including the Richard House charity shop.

Shop worker Denise Cummings told the Recorder: “It’s terrible – we’re at well below half trade. We’ve had the water company digging it up, then the gas, now the regeneration.”

Not everyone blames the roadworks. Debbie Smith of Godfrey’s bakery said people needed to be brought back into the area with a rejuvenated high street containing fewer chain stores.

Catherine Thompson, Debbie Smith and Cheryl Windsor-Smith from Godfrey's of HornchurchCatherine Thompson, Debbie Smith and Cheryl Windsor-Smith from Godfrey's of Hornchurch

“People aren’t coming into Hornchurch any more,” she said. “We survive on the office people and those who live in the area.

“I do think it’s nice to have a local baker’s where people know you.”

Regular customer Maureen Driscoll, of Noak Hill, agreed. “The chain shops are too dear,” she said, “but I can get a lunch and coffee here for under £5.”

Were you out and about in Hornchurch on Friday? If so, you may be the lucky winner of our “Face in the Crowd” competition - and £50. Pick up tomorrow’s Recorder to see if you’ve won.

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