Flood of complaints over road closure

VILLAGE traders are demanding compensation from the Environment Agency for loss of business caused by a £5million flood defence scheme. Angry representatives of most of the village s retail businesses met in The George, in Fenstanton, last week to complai

VILLAGE traders are demanding compensation from the Environment Agency for loss of business caused by a £5million flood defence scheme.

Angry representatives of most of the village's retail businesses met in The George, in Fenstanton, last week to complain that the project, which involves the closure of the Low Road linking the village with St Ives, had killed passing trade.

Prakash Puntambeker, who owns Ash's Store, in the High Street, said his takings had fallen by £1,200 a week with the road closed.

The work began last November and, apart from a fortnight over Christmas and New Year, the road is due to remain closed until early April.


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Shirley Mason, who runs an evening wear business from the Frock Exchange, in the High Street, told the meeting: "We have suffered very badly. There is no business that has not been affected.

"If people go elsewhere, why should they come back to us afterwards?"

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Her husband, John, who was elected to chair the traders' group, said turnover had been £1,000 down since the road closed.

"Ninety-five per cent of our customers are ladies who are frightened to drive on the A14," he said. "They fear that a lorry might plough into the back of them."

Takings at the specialist Disability Centre increased by 200 per cent when the road was re-opened over the Christmas and New Year holiday, owner Alan Scarrow told the meeting.

Mr Mason will write to the Environment Agency, which did not attend the meeting, demanding it make up for the loss of business.

Mr Puntambeker assured fellow traders there were precedents for compensating traders affected by road closures.

"When East Street, in St Ives, was closed, traders got compensation averaging £5,000," he said.

The Environment Agency said compensation had been factored into the cost of the project for businesses that could show a loss of takings.

The Fenstanton traders, who will meet again on Tuesday, may create a formal association.

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