Compensation for flood scheme loss

TRADERS whose in-come plummeted during construction of a £5million flood defences scheme have been compensated by the Environment Agency for their loss of profit. Business in Fenstanton hit rock bottom in the run-up to Christmas last year after the agency

TRADERS whose in-come plummeted during construction of a £5million flood defences scheme have been compensated by the Environment Agency for their loss of profit.

Business in Fenstanton hit rock bottom in the run-up to Christmas last year after the agency closed the Low Road, the village's link with St Ives, for nearly five months.

Work began last November, and the impact was immediate.

Prakash Puntambeker, who runs the village's general store, calculated that he was losing £1,200 a week from drivers who could no longer drive through the village.

More specialised businesses suffered heavily, too. Shirley and John Mason, who run side-by-side ladies' and men's formal evening wear hire businesses from The Frock Exchange, found their businesses virtually collapsed.

They claimed many of their customers were too frightened to use the A14 - even for the half-mile between Galley Hill and the village.

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Alan and Rosemary Scarrow, who own The Mobility Centre which provides equipment for disabled people, also saw sales fall dramatically.

As if to put the cause of the lost business beyond doubt, business picked up dramatically when the road was re-opened while the flood defences work was suspended over the Christmas and New Year holiday - and slumped immediately it was closed again.

The ailing traders got together and despaired. The Hunts Post rang the Environment Agency, asking for compensation for the lost business.

Of course, said the agency, so long as they can demonstrate that they have lost money as a result of our work.

The cost of compensation was factored into the cost of the scheme.

The road re-opened early in late March.

Now the agency has been as good as its word. "We have settled six of the claims and are dealing with two more," said a spokesman. "There may be more to come.

"They have ranged from having a chimney swept, because vibration disturbed the soot, to moving boats - one of the affected businesses is Jones's marina - and loss of business."

Alan Scarrow was delighted to have recovered not just his lost profit but an allowance for inflation - "thanks to The Hunts Post," he said.

Shirley Mason was also grateful for this newspaper's part in saving her business.

She admitted that she had contemplated closing down after more than 20 years in The Frock Exchange. "The Hunts Post really helped," she said.

The compensation had been less than she had hoped for, but had been fair, she conceded.

Husband John, who had chaired the traders' group, was happy with his payout.

But Mrs Mason is certainly happy with the way her formal gown business has performed since the Low Road was re-opened.

"We have had the best summer ever in evening gowns," she said. "The prom season was just amazing. People came from as far away as Derbyshire and Clacton-on-Sea for prom dresses.

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