'Totally killed trade': Shop bosses' fury over bus lane
- Credit: Steve Adams
Businesses on the edge claim they are on "their last legs" as a result of a new bus lane's devastating impact on trade.
Norfolk County Council recently installed a bus lane in Aylsham Road and Cromer Road at a cost of up to £2m following consultation at the beginning of the year.
But shops along Aylsham Road said the bus lane caught them by surprise and has had a damaging impact on business with cars no longer able to park outside.
Tarib Ali, catering manager of the Taj Mahal Indian takeaway said the business is losing up to £1,000 a week.
He bemoaned valuable service time being taken away by staff having to walk 40 metres up the road to collect deliveries which can no longer be dropped off at the door.
"We managed to pull away from the difficult Covid time but it feels like we have moved one step forward and now been pushed back 10 steps," he said.
"This new bus lane is going to effect us all especially when Mile Cross is one of the most deprived areas. The last thing we want is an empty shop."
Bipin Shah has owned several buildings in the road including the post office, Taj Mahal, chemist and bookies Ladbrokes since 1985 and believes the bus lane is his biggest obstacle yet.
Mr Shah said: "This post office was one of the busiest in the county and now it's on its last legs. If I can't get tenants then I will have to bankrupt the business.
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"I think the businesses will be gone and replaced with charity shops. Ladbrookes is threatening to leave so I have had to subsidise them to stay by giving them a discount."
Many of the businesses along Aylsham Road including the post office and Ladbrookes believe they received no consultation letter.
Chris Goodby, manager of Ladbrookes, said: "I had no prior notice for the bus lane. I have been led to believe homeowners were notified but not businesses.
"I am all for public transport but this seems totally unnecessary."
Caron Press, subpostmistress at the Mile Cross post office, said customers have gone from 400 people using the service every day to now being virtually non-existent.
She added: "This is usually our busiest day of the week and it is dead. Every customer has said there is nowhere to park and a lot of elderly customers can't pull up to drop off parcels.
"This will be another closure of a post office."
There is a small car park at the back of the Co-op store in Aylsham Road but this is strictly for customers only.
Some of the businesses have limited spaces for staff to park their cars but others such as the Evergreen Chinese takeaway have nowhere to park at all.
Evergreen owner Ting He said: "It has totally killed the business. We only had two customers last night.
"We are totally reliant on people collecting and deliveries. We still have to pay rent, gas and electric bills so we can't just pack up and leave."
He said the takeaway only took around £300 on Saturday night when it had been more like £1,000 beforehand.
Mile Cross county councillor Chrissie Rumsby said: "The bus lane will cause people to park in other streets which is already a problem. We do not want anymore parking wars. Hopefully common sense will prevail."
Norfolk County Council has said it carried out a "large-scale consultation" on the proposals at the start of the year.
Councillor Martin Wilby, chairman of the Transport for Norwich joint committee, said: "We wrote to everyone in the immediate and surrounding area with details of the proposals and reported the feedback received for consideration by committee in June, where the project was approved."
What the county council has said about the scheme
Mr Wilby said the issue of parking was raised through the consultation response.
He believes there are around 20 off-road parking spaces behind the post office with additional parking behind the bank and for the funeral directors.
But he acknowledged some on-street parking has been removed now double yellow lines and the bus lane run alongside the shops.
Mr Wilby added: "The project hasn’t had any impact on parking for shops at the northern end of Aylsham Road.
“We understand that road changes can feel disruptive to those nearby but, as with all our projects, we have aimed to strike a balance between the many competing demands on our network, both from road users themselves and local businesses.
"This particular project has recently been completed but is predicted to reduce bus journey times along this important route by around 15pc in the morning peak period, with minimal impact on general traffic."
The council will look into the possibility of improvements to car park signage to make sure spaces are available to those who need them.