Norwich MP joins fight to help shopkeepers after trade hit by road changes

Chloe Smith is pictured with Bipin Shah, Ting He and Caron Press who have all seen their businesses affected in Aylsham Road

Chloe Smith is pictured with Bipin Shah, Ting He and Caron Press who have all seen their businesses affected in Aylsham Road - Credit: Contributed

Bosses which have seen their trade slashed by a new bus lane have turned to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith for help.  

The lane and double yellow lines have been installed along Aylsham Road and Cromer Road following consultation at the beginning of last year as part of the county council's Transforming Cities scheme. 

But businesses have said footfall has massively dropped with customers unable to park outside to collect takeaways and shopping.  

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith listening to the concerns of businesses

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith listening to the concerns of businesses - Credit: Contributed

The council has pledged it will look at parking measures in response. 

But this week Ms Smith met shop owners, the post office, charity shops and the funeral directors in the area.  

Ms Smith said bosses face "a worrying future" and many are concerned about elderly and disabled people accessing the businesses. 

She added: "I hope that the council will listen, respond to their concerns, and look for a common sense solution that makes best use of important funding. It’s vital that taxpayers’ money is well spent.  

“Locals are also giving their views, like many did on the other section of the bus route in Hellesdon, and these should be listened to." 

A new bus lane has been installed in Aylsham Road 

A new bus lane has been installed in Aylsham Road - Credit: Steve Adams

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Critics in the Labour party questioned whether Ms Smith was going against her own party policy of committing to improved services for buses.  

County councillor, Emma Corlett, said: "Chloe Smith is trying to distance herself from her voting record and seems to think constituents in Norwich North won't notice what she does in Westminster."  

But Ms Smith pushed back: "I worked with the council to get this funding because the central government scheme is explicit that it should be used to support access to good jobs. 

"The council should be using the money to do that, especially at such a critical time, instead of risking a loss of jobs through a loss of local shops. 

The new bus lane in Aylsham Road which is causing concern for businesses along there

The new bus lane in Aylsham Road which is causing concern for businesses along there - Credit: Steve Adams

“I support improvements to transport in our city, and have fought in Westminster to get funding for Norwich, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of good jobs.” 

Councillor Martin Wilby, chairman of the Transport for Norwich joint committee, said: "We understand road changes can feel disruptive to those nearby but we have aimed to strike a balance between the many competing demands on our network, both from road users themselves and local businesses." 

How has the bus lane affected trade?  

Ting He is the owner of the Evergreen Chinese takeaway in Aylsham Road.  

He has had customers asking him why there is nowhere to park at the front of the business and believes he has two to three months left at this rate. 

The Evergreen Chinese takeaway is concerned about the loss of trade in Aylsham Road. Owner Ting He is pictured on the right

The Evergreen Chinese takeaway is concerned about the loss of trade in Aylsham Road. Owner Ting He is pictured on the right - Credit: Steve Adams

Mr He added: "There is an issue with the lay out. We have got mortgages and bills to pay. We need money for our families but it's proving very difficult. 

"I am losing money every day and am looking for another job." 

 The Aylsham Road post office has set up a petition against the changes. 

The county council said they would look into possibility of improvements to car park signage to make sure spaces are available. 

Councillor Martin Wilby, chairman of the Transport for Norwich joint committee, said: "We have aimed to strike a balance between the many competing demands on our network, both from road users themselves and local businesses."