Business move will ‘hit village hard’

Business owners say the move could 'hit the village hard'. The picture was taken by Paul Cousins and

Business owners say the move could 'hit the village hard'. The picture was taken by Paul Cousins and submitted to - Credit: Paul Cousins

A PILOT training centre is set to move from a Somerset village – and bed and breakfast owners fear they will lose thousands of pounds in business as a result.

Bristol Groundschool, which provides aviation training to pilots from all over the world, has been based in Cheddar for the past 10 years.

But it will leave Lower New Road in May to relocate to new premises in Clevedon, with business owners saying the move is going to ‘hit the village hard’.

The Groundschool forms partnerships with nearby bed and breakfast providers, giving students a list of potential places to stay.

Bed and breakfast owners fear the move will have a ‘significant’ impact on their businesses, with some set to lose thousands of pounds in income.

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Chris Jennings, who has run Fernwood for the past five years, said he currently has two or three pilots stay at his premises in a month, contributing around £9,000 a year.

He said: “This has really shattered us. I have just retired and rely on this extra income. I am not sure what we are going to do.

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“Ours is one of many which will be affected as we have a network of people offering bed and breakfast in the village.

“We have two people staying at the moment and our last two next month. It’s affected us significantly. It is a good income, but it is quite enjoyable as well.”

The Groundschool has now partnered with a 40-room inn in Yatton, as well as retaining partnerships in Congresbury, Churchill and Winscombe.

Mr Jennings said: “It leaves us in a position where we have to think about what we are going to do to make income up again.

“I will probably end up going back to work. There are people harder hit than us.

“It’s also taking away a lot of income from the village itself. The pilots go out and have food and visit the pubs. It’s going to hit the village hard.”

Alex Whittingham, managing director of Bristol Groundschool said: “While we are sad to be leaving Cheddar, our home for the past decade, this is a big and exciting step for Bristol Groundschool, necessary to accommodate the growth of our business and our growing team of dedicated instructors and administrators, as well as our support, sales and marketing departments.

“We are very much looking forward to the move and to entering the next phase for Bristol Groundschool. Preparations to relocate are underway and we anticipate operating from Clevedon from the first week of May.”

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