Fears for future as bridge closure hits trade

Traders says the closure of a key bridge in Blackpool is starting to damage their livelihoods - with one business owner fearing her shop might not survive the downturn.

Friday, 8th September 2017, 2:32 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:34 pm
Anita Barlow of Big Baps Sandwich Bar

Harrowside Bridge in South Shore was closed in July by Blackpool Council for safety reasons after an inspection found essential repairs were necessary.

Work is expected to start in November and the bridge could be shut until April.

Council chiefs have agreed measures including improved signage to help ease the impact on businesses.

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Road closure signs outside Big Baps sandwich shop on Harrowside, Blackpool

Anita Barlow, who runs Big Baps Sandwich Bar on Harrowside, said; “The council have road signs up saying the road is closed, which it’s not, it’s only the bridge that’s closed, so consequently most of the passing trade has stopped.

“They have agreed to move the signs nearer the bridge, which hopefully will help our situation, but it won’t solve it.

“Three quarters of my trade are or were workmen that had come over the bridge, but that’s all stopped.

“I realise nothing can be done to solve that issue, but with the bridge not being due to re-open until April, and with Squires Gate Bridge also due to close in November, I really have serious doubts my shop will survive.

Harrowside Bridge which is closed

“I’ve built it up with a lot of hard work, but just in the few weeks the bridge has closed it’s taken a massive drop in sales and customers.”

Sue Miller, who runs Harrowside Chippy, said a number of traders had recently met with council highways chiefs.

She said: “We have lost our lunchtime trade, which is passing trade, and we’re also probably going to lose a lot of our Lights trade as people come from the Prom.

“The council has agreed to re-do the signage which at the moment is ambiguous.

Road closure signs outside Big Baps sandwich shop on Harrowside, Blackpool

“They are going to put larger signs on Clifton Drive and we are putting posters round the area to say there is pedestrian access on the bridge.”

Checks have revealed that steel reinforcements on the bridge have corroded by 40 per cent.

Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for highways on Blackpool Council, said: “I completely understand that this situation is difficult for the businesses on Harrowside but we simply couldn’t keep a bridge open which was unsafe.

“We are regularly speaking to the shops in that area to keep them informed and are doing all we can to support them.

Harrowside Bridge which is closed

“That involves signs advising people that the businesses are still open and keeping the pedestrian walkway free at all times so people can get to the shops.”