'It's a nightmare': Sidmouth business react as roadworks get underway

Road closed sign

Road closed sign - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Businesses in Sidmouth are adapting to deal with a drop in footfall as roadworks take place in the town.

The town's High Street has been hit as part of a major scheme of structural and resurfacing work, with the project set to last until April on different sections of the A375. 

One shopkeeper, who did not wish to be named, said it had been a 'nightmare'.

"We have seen a massive drop in footfall since the work started on Monday," they said. 

"Our staff have struggled to get into work, it's a nightmare.

"We understand its necessary but it's very badly planned there are diversion routes that send you halfway round the town."

Meanwhile Mark Chapman from Paragon Books, in the High Street, said: "It's not been too bad. Some days last week were really quiet, and some like last Friday (January 21) were really busy."

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The Sidmouth Mobility Shop said it understood the reasoning for the move.

"It's a total disaster for a mobility shop, that needs parking for its less able and elderly customers," said Stephen Gerry.

"But we appreciate it is work that has to be done and will be over by Monday (January 31), at the top of the High street anyway."

A Giddons Cook's Corner Cookshop spokesperson added: "Its definitely been noticeable, but better to be now than April onwards."

Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce David Cook said now was the preferred tie for the work, which had originally been scheduled for last autumn.

"Devon Highways originally considered starting the works last Autumn, but they wrote to them requesting it was delayed until January, as disruption at one of the busiest times of the year would have been catastrophic especially as businesses recover from the pandemic," a spokesperson said.

"Devon Highways advised the Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce that there had only been patch up repairs made to the road over a number of years and that the infrastructure of the road was now unsound.

"They were adamant that major road repairs had to be carried out and have indicated they will be working as sympathetically as possible with the local community and by moving the works until the early part of the year, which is the quietest period of the year for the business community, reduce its impact as much as possible, recognising that disruption at any time is not good for the businesses in the town.”

When the work was announced, Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council cabinet member for highway management and county councillor for Sidmouth, said: “The survey of the highway drainage beneath the A375 found a number of issues, including damaged pipes, so it’s essential that this work is carried out in order to repair it.

“The additional work that’s necessary before carrying out resurfacing has added to the duration of the scheme, but the work has been timed to minimise disruption as much as possible.”