VILLAGE traders who have lost business as a result of a £5million flood defence scheme can get compensation from the Environment Agency. With the Low Road between St Ives and Fenstanton closed for nearly four months during construction work, some business
VILLAGE traders who have lost business as a result of a £5million flood defence scheme can get compensation from the Environment Agency.
With the Low Road between St Ives and Fenstanton closed for nearly four months during construction work, some businesses in the village have seen sales plummet.
Prakash Puntambeker, who own Ash's general store in Fenstanton High Street, estimates that he is losing £1,200 a week in sales from passing trade.
But at a second meeting attended by most of the village's retail businesses last week they heard that the agency "would consider any valid claim for compensation".
The flood defence scheme is aimed at protecting low-lying areas of Hemingford Grey and Fenstanton when the Great Ouse bursts its banks in St Ives. Some properties, particularly in Victoria Crescent, Hemingford Grey, have suffered regularly in recent years.
Last week, traders' chairman John Mason - who runs a formal dress hire business with his wife, Shirley - said it had been a "traumatic fortnight" since the decision at a previous meeting to demand compensation.
But a letter received by fax from the agency on the day of the meeting said it would "consider any valid claim for compensation for loss or damage from works under the Water Resources Act. Traders should not be disadvantaged as a result of our project."
The EA said it had appointed a loss adjuster to examine claims, which should be supported by two or three previous years' audited accounts. "There should be significant loss over and above normal variations in turnover," the letter added, promising to pay traders' reasonable costs of preparing successful claims.
The agency also offered to erect additional signs directing potential customers to the village, where there are more than 20 retail businesses.
"We do take your concerns seriously and we will endeavour to complete the essential flood defence work as quickly as possible," the letter concluded.
Work is due to finish in early April, but an agency spokesman said it was progressing well and the road might re-open sooner than planned.
"From despair we have moved to a little hope," Mr Mason told 15 other traders last week. "But the really worrying thing is that customers are getting out of the habit of coming to Fenstanton.