Cley businesses concerned ahead of road closure

Road closed signs at Cley after the USAF helicopter crash. Business owners say trade has been slow.

Road closed signs at Cley after the USAF helicopter crash. Business owners say trade has been slow. Jane Goodwin, sales assistant at Picnic Fayre. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Businesses in Cley are bracing themselves for another street closure after the coast road was blocked for 11 days following the US Air Force helicopter crash.

The A149 between the Dun Cow pub in Salthouse and Old Woman's Lane near Cley Marshes Visitors Centre was shut after the RAF Lakenheath aircraft crashed on marshland on January 7 during a low-flying exercise. It killed four USAF personnel from the base.

Police reopened the road on January 18 but part of New Road, in Cley, outside Picnic Fayre delicatessen, is due to close again for one week because of Anglian Water work.

Business owners believe the work, which involves digging up part of the road to alleviate pressure on the sewerage system, could last for several weeks.

It is not known when the work will start.

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Picnic Fayre owner Victoria Pryor said: 'The road closure after the crash hit us badly. January is a quiet month but it felt like Cley was cut off.

'The tragedy was four people got killed and the police and armed forces could not have traffic going down the coast road. But it felt like the road could have opened in the second week.'

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She thought officers and servicemen could have stopped people going down the Beach Road to the crash site during the clear-up, which has now finished.

Signs about the road closure were put up in Blakeney and Sheringham but motorists could still drive into Cley.

Mrs Pryor said: 'On the Saturday afternoon when the closure was lifted we were full.'

Part of the Anglian Water work will involve digging up the store's car park which is 'essential' to the business.

Mrs Pryor said customers will be able to use the Cley Village Hall car park during that time.

Sarah Whittley, co-owner of Pinkfoot Gallery on the High Street, said: 'When the road reopened it was like a switch had been flicked on. The place came alive. We understood the road closure but not the signs at Blakeney and Sheringham.'

Parish council chairman Richard Kelham said if the work took place during Easter it could cause serious problems for trade.

Church Lane, which currently cannot be used by vehicles, will be closed for five weeks from Monday, January 27. The Church Lane retaining wall which has collapsed onto the road will be repaired so motorists can use it again.

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