WORRIED traders and residents in one of Wales’ busiest border towns have said they are concerned for the future after a double whammy of national lockdowns.

Half of Chepstow – including the town centre – is in Wales, but just over half a mile from the High Street are the villages of Sedbury and Tutshill in England.

Residents in the latter places have been in England’s tier one lockdown restrictions, but are now subject to the four-week England-wide lockdown which came into force last Thursday.

A stone’s throw into Wales however, and residents have been living under tight 17-day firebreak lockdown restrictions - with all non-essential shops closed.

Wales' lockdown comes to an end tomorrow, but there are concerns that the new lockdown on the England side of the border will continue to hit Chepstow businesses and retailers. 

Wendy Taylor, who owns sweet shop Chateau Bonbon in St Mary’s Arcade in Chepstow, commutes from her home in England most days, and says she feels like “we’ve gone crazy”.

South Wales Argus:

Chepstow High Street on Monday

“We’re an events-driven business so we were doing well before the firebreak lockdown [in Wales] because of Hallowe’en,” she said.

“The border has never been something I’d thought about before the pandemic, now we speak about it most days.

“I have a Wales postcode and use Welsh companies to pay my bills, and I tell everyone I live in South Wales - yet I’m now in a position where I’m totally confused most of the time.

South Wales Argus:

Wendy Taylor

“I come to work here and yet I don’t know what I can do when I’m here other than work, because I’m not technically a resident of the Welsh side of Chepstow. It’s ridiculous.”

Ms Taylor hopes that ultimately, restrictions will be brought into place across the UK, because the confusion as well as the rules are driving people away from the town, she says.

“We’re getting it from both sides, and I do think we need recognition in terms of extra funding.”

Lisa Roberts, part owner of J’Adore Gift Shop, says the new restrictions either side of the border will make people more inclined to shop online.

She says the business is now relying on personal savings to survive.

“We were quite busy up to [firebreak] lockdown and people seemed to get the importance of shopping locally, but now it’s horrendous,” she said.

South Wales Argus:

Lisa Roberts

“We’ve lost three weekends during this period, and traditionally they have been very good weekends for us that would get us through a tougher period after Christmas.

“It’s not just residents in Chepstow who are not coming here, we also get lots of day-trippers from Bristol we’re missing out on.

“I think traders here will begin to disappear if we continue like this.”

Owner of Chepstow Books Matthew Taylor, who also lives in Tutshill, says a busy period before the firebreak lockdown is getting him through.

But he also relies on a good pre-Christmas period, and that is now less likely given restrictions both sides of the border.


“I am trying to be positive and I feel relatively lucky I work in Wales, because I’d hate to have to go through this [lockdown] for a month,” he said.

“It’s very strange. Chepstow is the hub for shopping and hospitality for nearby English villages. In fact, most of the facilities they use will be here.”

South Wales Argus:

Matt Taylor

Director of First Stop Stationers John Pugh believes half of his customers are from England, and he had been looking forward to welcoming them back from November 9.

“I think it took us all by surprise [England's national lockdown],” he said.

“Trade was picking up before Wales’ lockdown and we weren’t far off returning to normal – so that is carrying us through. But the England lockdown extends our issues, especially heading into Christmas.

“This week should have been our busiest week in a long time, with sales of advent calendars for example.

“If these lockdowns continue into next year, and business rates go back up, then we’ll be in real bother.”

South Wales Argus:

Chepstow High Street

Councillor for Chepstow's St Mary’s ward, Jez Becker, hopes the Welsh Government is considering a more specific plan to help Wales’ border towns.

“It [England heading into lockdown] is another big blow,” he said.

"Chepstow is a key provider of services to many English people, and I do believe there needs to be more common sense applied here.

South Wales Argus:

Cllr Jez Becker

“I feel Wales’ restrictions have been better than those in England, but in the long term we need a UK-wide message.”

Cllr Bob Greenland, deputy leader of Monmouthshire County Council, added: “The pandemic has been hard for traders and hospitality businesses all over the UK, but particularly so for those operating on the Wales/England border who are reliant on customers from both sides.

“The impact of lockdowns in both nations not being aligned makes things even harder.

“We are not aware that UK or Welsh government intend to recognise this with specific financial support over and above that already announced by the Chancellor and First Minister.”

The Welsh Government has been contacted for comment.