Road closure will damage trade - business owner vents

PUBLISHED: 15:11 30 May 2014

Diversions will be in place on the A361 next week.

Diversions will be in place on the A361 next week.

Archant

A ROAD closure in the summer has been labelled 'bonkers' by an outraged business owner, who says it will impact turnover, the amount of staff he can employ and customer goodwill.

The planned closure of Castle Hill in Banwell from June 17 for up to three weeks also coincides with the Winscombe and Sandford village festival.

Bristol Water is replacing a main and will be installing a two-way traffic light system while the work is carried out.

The closure will start at The Square and will be in place up to the junction at Dark Lane, with traffic being diverted through Sandford.

Banwell Garden Centre owner Richard Swatridge said: “It all started last Saturday when a customer asked me if we were closing in June.

“They said because the road is closed they wouldn’t be coming.

“I went to the parish council meeting and the parish councillors were not happy about it either, as it falls on the festival and will cause traffic problems.”

Bristol Water agreed to meet with Mr Swatridge to discuss compensation, but this is not enough to appease the frustrated business owner.

He said: “We have jobs to do, so it’s like – thanks a lot. There will be access from the other direction, but 13-foot lorries can’t go through Winscombe because it would damage the railway bridge.

“Why couldn’t they do it out of season, in November? It is totally bonkers. They don’t seem willing to budge.

“I will be losing out on passing trade from traffic going to the festival and will have to cut down staffing levels.

“I am a customer of theirs and I haven’t been consulted. It is bully-boy tactics but if they give me compensation I’d no longer be worried.

“It is a tough retail world and there is a lot of competition from the big chains – this is the opposite of support.”

Mr Swatridge said the road closure won’t just stop the usual garden centre trade but will have an impact on deliveries and the coffee shop.

A Bristol Water spokesman said: “We do have an insurance compensation scheme, which will compensate businesses who can demonstrate loss of revenue due to the impact of our works and some businesses have already been in touch with us to register their concerns.

“If other business owners are concerned about the impact that our works will have on their income, they should contact our customer services team.”

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