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'This could push us over the edge' - Shoppers urged not to abandon village shop during 10 week roadworks

PUBLISHED: 14:51 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:03 05 September 2019

Farmer Sarah Barnes and butcher Keith Charlish have urged people to keep visiting Church Farm shop in Hethersett, despite extensive roadworks. Photo: Bethany Wales

Farmer Sarah Barnes and butcher Keith Charlish have urged people to keep visiting Church Farm shop in Hethersett, despite extensive roadworks. Photo: Bethany Wales

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Villagers have urged shoppers not to abandon their businesses during a 10-week stint of major roadworks.

Jake Willgress has urged people to keep visiting Church Farm shop in Hethersett, despite extensive roadworks. Photo: Bethany WalesJake Willgress has urged people to keep visiting Church Farm shop in Hethersett, despite extensive roadworks. Photo: Bethany Wales

The latest work to install a new section of pedestrian and cycle path began in Hethersett on Monday, causing long queues on the affected Norwich Road due to three-way temporary traffic lights.

Since the works went up, businesses in the area have reported a sharp drop in trade, and are urging people to rally behind them to avoid serious consequences.

Jake Willgress, who runs Church Farm shop on Norwich Road, said business had fallen by around 50pc since the work began, despite queues being minimal outside rush hour.

He said: "People don't think they will be able to get into the shop because it's in the middle of the road works, but the traffic has been pretty light outside peak times. If things don't pick up this could push us over the edge. The next three months should be one of our busiest periods but it's not looking good for us right now."

Norwich Road in Hethersett is operating under a three way traffic light system due to roadworks. Photo: Bethany WalesNorwich Road in Hethersett is operating under a three way traffic light system due to roadworks. Photo: Bethany Wales

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Next door, at Church Farm Butchers, the outlook is equally concerning.

Sarah Barnes, who runs the shop, said the decline in custom was a major blow to the business, which has only been open since last Easter.

Despite normally seeing a steady flow of shoppers throughout the day, Ms Barnes said only around four people visited the shop yesterday.

Butcher Keith Charlish at Church Farm Butchers, Hethersett. Photo: Bethany WalesButcher Keith Charlish at Church Farm Butchers, Hethersett. Photo: Bethany Wales

She added: "Our customer base has been growing week on week up until now. We sell honest, fresh produce and are doing everything right. We just need the customers to keep coming in."

For 56-year-old Henry Randell, from Mulbarton, the independent shop is worth the journey, despite the roadworks.

He said: "The work only adds about five minutes to the journey. Imagine if this place closed down because of some roadworks. It wouldn't be right. It's worth the journey for the tomatoes alone."

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said: "We appreciate the frustrations of the local community, particularly given the volume of recent works in the area but the duration of this project and it's fit with our wider programme means it would not be possible to complete during the school holidays."

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