JOBS are at risk in Bognor Regis because customers are driving away from a gridlocked road.
Business owners and managers on the Arun Business Park, pictured above, have united to demand action to restore opening times at the town’s waste site within it.
Their trade has slumped because motorists have been regularly queuing back on to the A29 with their rubbish.
Roger Caplin, the owner of Electair Exports, said: “We have continuous days when nobody comes into the estate.
“We are losing all our customers because they are saying they can’t get in and they will drive somewhere else. People will move out.
“We have a good estate with a nice mix of businesses, who all gain from each other. But we can’t get deliveries.
“We have experienced the situation where delivery contractors have turned up with goods one or two days late saying they can’t get into the estate to deliver.”
Yeomans Nissan is another of the companies affected by the situation as demand for the tip has clogged up the estate’s entrance.
Mark Peters, its general sales manager, said: “It’s getting to the point now where I think the traffic situation here is dangerous.
“The queues on Saturday mornings can be past Sainsbury’s. People who don’t know the area, or who are in the wrong lane, could easily pull straight out into the traffic. There’s going to be an accident here shortly.
“I can’t understand how this situation is allowed to impact on our businesses.”
Another business on the estate, Edmundson Electrical, has collected 60 signatures in two weeks from its 200-250 regular customers who state the logjams have deterred them from doing business there.
The problem has become worse in the past month after homeowners resumed gardening following the delays caused by the harsh spring weather.
But the present situation dates back to October 2016. West Sussex County Council cut opening hours at its waste amenity sites to save money to help it cope with a reduction in government funding.
The problem was felt acutely at the Bognor Regis site because it is believed to be the only one in the county in a shared location with commercial firms.
The business park site is privately owned and the council has permission for tip users to drive on to it.
Some of the cut hours were restored recently by the county council but it has kept the site closed for two days a week – Thursdays and Fridays.
County councillor Francis Oppler (LD, Bognor Regis E) has consistently opposed the cuts. He wrote to the county council’s cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Deborah Urquhart, on Tuesday to urge her to help the business park.
He said: “These businesses and the people who work in them are paying the price for the county council’s cuts.
“I’ve seen some ridiculous queues here when I have driven past, even on weekdays. It’s clear a lot of businesses are suffering and, although the county council has restored some of the hours, the scheme has obviously failed. The waste site has got to go back to seven days a week and its original opening times.”
GTR Auto Bodies owner William Gustar is a director of Arun Business Park. He said: “There’s been flytipping occurring when the waste site is closed.
“We’ve always looked after this estate and we want to keep it together. Otherwise, it will go downhill and look like a bomb site and we don’t want that.”
A county council spokesman said : “After speaking to the traders last year, we agreed to revert to earlier opening to reduce morning queues at the Bognor site – respecting the fact that the site itself has limitations and some queuing at peak times is unavoidable. Arun Business Park traders have previously told us they were satisfied with the changes we made in response to complaints last year but we are still looking to make further improvements.
“Earlier opening (08.30 weekdays and 09.00 weekends) has largely resolved the issues of queues building up prior to opening. We have also created bigger bays making it easier for visitors to reverse into the allocated parking bays so that traffic can flow through the site more efficiently.
“Historically there has always been a problem with queuing at peak times of the year so we encourage users to come later in the day to avoid the mid-morning peak. The site is open until 6pm Saturday through to Wednesday until the end of September. Our busiest months are between April and June and pressure usually eases afterwards.
“With five day opening, the traders have two consecutive days largely unaffected by the site.
“Other planned improvements include banning trailers from the Household Waste Recycling Site at Bognor (and Littlehampton) later this year and reviewing the road layout to see if we can ease access to the estate for customers. We are also actively looking at alternative sites in Arun as a replacement.”