After more than nine weeks of disruption and chaos Church Road (Ashford High Street) has finally re-opened. Due to the new housing development Church Road was closed with very little notice and this closure practically put an end to some of the local independent retailers with trade down, in some cases, up to 95%.
In broad terms the main artery through Ashford town was severed effectively crippling the town which not only serves the largest residential population in Spelthorne but supports and is serviced by over 100 businesses that depend on the main artery function.
Member retailers of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) quickly contacted their Development Manager for help who immediately visited Church Road and described it as a ‘ghost town’ (see photograph) with no visible footfall. The FSB attended and visited retailers, attended public meetings and was not prepared to allow retailers to suffer this closure until the scheduled re-opening of Church Road towards the end of October 2019.
Finally, FSB was successful in calling a meeting of all parties which included developers and borough councillors. The meeting facilitated by FSB South East Regional Chairman, Brian Woods was chaired by local MP Kwasi Kwarteng and during the meeting it was announced that Church Road would re-open 3 weeks ahead of schedule. A saving grace for the local independent retailers.
A concerted effort supported by FSB and Spelthorne Borough Council to drive trade back to Church Road is now necessary and with the help of local media shoppers will be informed of the ongoing plans.
In addition and at the request of FSB parking in Ashford will be free of charge until January 2020.