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Trade plummets in town due to disruption caused by gas mains work

PUBLISHED: 06:18 10 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:23 10 February 2020

Market Street in North Walsham was like a ghost town on Saturday morning.  Pictures: David Bale

Market Street in North Walsham was like a ghost town on Saturday morning. Pictures: David Bale

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Traders in a Norfolk town claim they are losing 50pc of their business due to disruption caused by gas mains work.

Footfall in North Walsham town centre is down due to the gas mains work. Pictures: David BaleFootfall in North Walsham town centre is down due to the gas mains work. Pictures: David Bale

The work to future-proof North Walsham's gas infrastructure by replacing ageing piping with durable new pipes is set to be completed by April.

But traders in the area currently affected by the works say that no-one is visiting their part of town with all routes cut off.

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) has met businesses in the town to hear their concerns and introduced free parking at some car parks for limited times.

John Caton, who owns Caton's furniture shop in Market Street, said: "We did not see anyone for four days and sold nothing. We've just got to ride out the storm."

John Caton outside his shop in North Walsham. Pictures: David BaleJohn Caton outside his shop in North Walsham. Pictures: David Bale

Jonathan Browne, who runs iTrade, said they were more than 50pc down on takings while staff at Shambles added: "We're not as busy as normal. We're not getting the traffic coming by here, because the road's closed. During the day we are definitely affected."

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The Sue Ryder shop has also been very quiet but Laura Mackey, manager at the Pact animal sanctuary shop, said negativity on social media had worsened the situation.

Dave Clarke, who runs The Vape Gurus in Market Street, said: "I'm lucky and have loyal customers, who still come down to see me. But there's no passing trade."

Jonathan Browne runs iTrade in North Walsham. Pictures: David BaleJonathan Browne runs iTrade in North Walsham. Pictures: David Bale

As reported, talks are under way about moving the town's weekly market during the works.

Meanwhile, free parking for two hours is available at Vicarage Street and Bank Loke car parks, and 30 minutes' parking continues to be available in the Market Place.

The council's economic development officer Stewart Damonsing said: "We have listened to the concerns of businesses and are working continually to support them by putting measures in place to help minimise the disruption and encourage footfall around the town.

"We would like to remind shoppers that North Walsham is open for business and that it is important to continue supporting the shops and businesses especially those on Mundesley Road, Market Street and Vicarage Street who have been particularly affected during the early phase of works."

Town mayor, Garry Bull, added: "Despite the slow moving gas main renewal works and the confusing traffic diversions, North Walsham's shops and businesses are very much trading as normal."

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