Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
Southend traders fear rail bridge replacement will hit profits
TRADERS fear the closure of Southend High Street under the bridge and the loss of trains full of shoppers could hit profits.
Four shops at the base of the bridge – Mallard Jewellers, Claire’s Accessories, Southend Discount Gold and Feet First Shoe Repairs – will close on Saturday, February 2, and Sunday, February 3, as Network Rail replaces it.
But other stores fear the loss of trains from Shoebury to Southend Centre and shoppers’ reluctance to walk around the diversion as workmen close the area under the bridge could hit footfall two weekends before Valentine’s Day.
Mark Miller, owner of ladies fashion shop Ohsoboho, said: “I’m quite shocked they didn’t do it over the weekend, especially as we gear up to the weekend all week.
“To have disruption like this at the weekend is not going to benefit us at all.
“It could have been done in the evening or night during the week, which would have had less impact on footfall.”
David Andrews, manager of Mallard, said: “Potentially we could lose sales and revenue.
“Hopefully it will affect us for a short period of time and will not have any lasting effects.”
Network Rail has promised signs and stewards directing shoppers around the bridge.
And stores that can prove a loss in trade due to the work can apply to the firm for compensation.
Katie Miller, manager of Quiz, which opened two shops up from the bridge five and a half months ago, said: “The main issue for us will be when they bring in the cranes and park them outside.
“The trains not coming here from Shoebury might have more of an effect.
“They have timed it well as it’s not the busiest time of the year, although it is pay weekend.
“It’s just one of those things. “ Dawn Jeakings, chairman of the town centre partnership, insisted Southend would be open for business.
Mrs Jeakings, who is also manager of the Royals Shopping Centre, said: “It’s business as usual. The High Street will be fully accessible.”