‘Misery’ of road closures because of Velo South cycle event

Billy's On The Road off the A29
Billy's On The Road off the A29

A businesswoman has hit out at ‘misery and distress’ being caused by proposals to close 100 miles of roads in West Sussex next week.

Billy Willison, owner of Billy’s cafe on the A29 between Five Oaks and Billingshurst, says she stands to lose a quarter of her weekly trade because roads around her business are being closed as part of the Velo South cycle event.

Billy spoke out after the Wey and Arun Canal Trust revealed yesterday that it will have to close its centre in Loxwood on the day of the event - Sunday September 23 - because customers and boat crews will not be able to get there.

Velo South will see 15,000 cyclists pedal their way through the closed roads in a loop through a string of West Sussex villages beginning and ending at Goodwood.

The Wey and Arun Canal Trust says it will lose around £1,000 in much-needed funds by having to close for the day and Billy’s cafe estimates it will lose more than £2,000.

Said Billy: “I am locked in on three sides but not actually on the ‘route’. I stand to lose 25 per cent of my weekly trade amounting to losses of £2,000 plus.

“I am laying off staff, some of whom are part time and Sunday is their only working day.”

She said while she was “a small rural independent whose most important day’s takings are wiped out”, hundreds of other businesses were also being affected, “not to mention the farmers, carers, taxi drivers, stables, charitable events, South of England horse trials, wedding plans forced to rearrange - the list goes on.

“No consultation was made by West Sussex County Council and many of us only found out about this race via social media a month ago.”

She said many people were angry at organisers of Velo South - a firm called CSM Active - and West Sussex County Council for allowing the event to go ahead without any prior consultation. She said no compensation was being offered to businesses despite ‘misery and distress to tens of thousands.’

CSM has previously said that it has distributed leaflets to people along the route and has liaised with people affected to try to resolve access requirements.