Seafront upgrade is ‘ruining’ trade

PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 June 2016

Michelangelo roadworks

Michelangelo roadworks

Archant

Businesses in Weston have slammed North Somerset Council over development work which they say is ‘ruining’ trade, and claim they were not informed about the work taking place.

Flood defences near Knightsone Island are undergoing a £300,000 upgrade, but nearby businesses have complained of ‘terrible’ noise, disruption and timing which is impacting on trade.

The development will see the Dutch dam on the promenade replaced with floodgates designed to improve response times to storms. The work is scheduled to finish next month.

Victoria Upward, manager at restaurant Il Michelangelo, in Knightstone Road, said: “We’ve had no letter of intent to say this was even happening in the first place, so we haven’t been able to warn customers or come up with a contingency plan to make up for the business loss.

“We’re losing our outside trade because people are not willing to put up with the noise, which is understandable because of the dust and jackhammers. It’s terrible.”

This view was echoed by Bee Vonguyer, manager of Nook and Harbour Holiday Apartments, in Kightstone Road. She said: “People have booked in for a week, stayed three or four days and left because all you can hear is this noise.

“It’s mental, we never got a warning or anything.”

Katherine Pink, who runs Stones Café in Knightstone Causeway, said: “It would have been nice if someone popped over and said ‘for eight to 10 weeks we’re going to ruin your business’. I did not get a letter.

“I just think generally the attitude from the council has been that they don’t really want to help us at all.”

Ms Upward told the Mercury Il Michelangelo was losing ‘at least £1,500-2,000 per week’ due to the works. Ms Vonguyer said the disruption was costing her business £700-800 per week, while Ms Pink said the café was down more than £200 per day, forcing the business to cut back one worker’s hours.

With summer season nearing its peak, the timing of the development has compounded anger over the disruption.

Ms Upward said: “We’ve got another eight weeks of this. It’s the beginning of the summer season, they’ve had all winter to do this. Weston relies on its tourism and they’re ruining the trade.”

Ms Upward argued if the businesses were warned they ‘would have been able to overcome some of it because we would have been able to realise that we need to boost the evening trade to supplement the fact we couldn’t have the lunchtime’.

The council, however, says businesses were informed ahead of time.

A spokesman told the Mercury: “We advised all properties on Knightstone Island, including the businesses, using our normal distribution list.”

The council spokesman also defended the timing of the work. He said: “It is sensible to carry out the work when risks from storms have reduced and tides are a bit lower. The Environment Agency would not give us permission to do the work in the winter or spring. We are avoiding the summer holidays by doing it now.”

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