High street traders defiant in wake of Sudbury blaze
- Credit: Su Anderson
Shoppers are being urged to rally round Sudbury as businesses stress they are “open for business as usual” a week after the devastating town centre inferno.
The gaping hole where peoples’ homes and businesses once stood serves a glaring reminder of Sunday’s fire on Friars Street/Market Hill, but as some businesses report falling trade the message is: “we are still here and we will survive”.
Several business owners on Friars Street, which is closed to cars just before the junction with Market Hill are concerned that people are avoiding the town.
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said he will be supporting the town centre. “The key to Sudbury recovering from the devastating fire is getting community life back in the town as soon as possible.
“I will be going shopping there myself this weekend and I am fully behind the drive to support Sudbury’s recovery.”
With Friars Street currently closed to cars while the two remaining severely damaged buildings are secured, business owners and community leaders are stressing that it is still easy to get into the town, park up and shop.
Hetty Lyttelton owns Zoffany Exchange, a second hand clothing store on Friars Street. “Trade has been completely dead since the fire,” she said.
“There has been nearly no footfall, and of course we were closed on Monday as we had no power. We are really suffering.
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“With the road closed, even though the path is now open, people just don’t know we are up here. But we are very much still here and we are open for business.”
Janette Osman, owner of the Rude Strawberry cafe on Friars Street, praised the way the Sudbury community had come together to help those affected by the fire.
She said: “Trade has definitely been different since the fire, but not too bad, it could be worse.
“But we have had the builders and fireman down here eating and drinking tea, we gave free tea and coffee to the fireman.
“Sudbury is a vibrant town. It is that community feeling that makes it such a lovely place to live and work and to visit.
“The way everyone has helped each other since the fire has shown this, and it is the strength of our community that means Sudbury will survive this and will recover.”
Stéphane Chapotot is the proprietor of The Secret Garden restaurant on Friars Street.
“It makes me very proud to be in Sudbury,” he said. “We have been letting Javelin (clothing store) use our meeting room for free, lots of people have come together to help in many different ways.
“It has been an incredible response from the community, as I said, it makes me so proud. It is hard to say how much we have been affected, we have been quiet, but people are back at school – business has dropped.”
Alan Devereux, of A and G Newsagents on Friars Street, echoed the concerns of others, reporting a significant drop in trade.
“We need to get the message out there that you can come down here and that most of the shops are back up and running,” he said.
Babergh District Council are keen to get the message across that it is not “chaos” in Sudbury, and that the town is up and running.
Simon Barrett, Sudbury South district councillor, said: “We have been working to ensure those businesses who can’t return to their premisies are up and running elsewhere as quickly as possible.
“Celebrities Nails have a temporary home at another salon (Creative-Couture) and the Coffee House (Gainsbourough Street) should re reopening on Monday.
“Parking is free for three hours is Sudbury and you have the one hour parking on Market Hill. There is a fantastic array of independent shops in the town, and it is still open for business.”