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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Cumbrian cafe owner battling to survive due to road closures

A cafe owner claims he is battling to survive after repeated road closures left him struggling for business.

Kieron Graham opened The Filling Station, in Crosthwaite Road, Keswick, in December 2011, as a 1950s/60s American diner-themed cafe with parking for cars and bikes.

A biker himself, Mr Graham wanted to set up a motorcyclist-friendly cafe for those who did not want to head into Keswick itself.

Despite a positive reception and initial success, he claims his efforts have been continually blighted by roadworks and closures.

Mr Graham, 49, from Carlisle, said that officials closed the road outside Rawnsley Hall yesterday while United Utilities install a new mains sewer pipe.

“It will be closed for nine weeks,” he explained, “and we will lose all passing trade.

“This time last year the road was closed for the Environment Agency to do some work – that was meant to be for 12 weeks, but was extended for five months.”

Mr Graham and his wife Sheena had been prepared to make personal sacrifices in the first year of business, but the lack of passing trade meant times were tougher than expected.

“To survive last year’s road closure, my wife and I used up all our spare resources and contingency money and I worked all year for no pay,” he explained.

“We will survive this, but we will have to make sacrifices again – we have an eight-year-old son, and there will be no personal holiday this year.”

Mr Graham is angry that more consideration has not been given to his business.

Tony Markley, Cumbria County Council cabinet member for highways, wrote to Mr Graham on December 19.

“I sympathise with your difficulties trading in an already difficult economic environment,” he wrote, “compounded by changes to the local traffic system that may make it more difficult for people to find their way to your premises and may divert passing trade.

“It is not always possible to meet the demands of all users as their requirements may differ and safety is our paramount concern.

“I hope that the January road closure outside Rawnsley Hall, sought by United Utilities, will have a significantly smaller impact on your business than the roadworks that affected Crosthwaite Road very badly.”

A spokesman for the council added: “The reality is that as these are both utilities work we have little control over it, but attempt to minimise the impact.”

eparsons@cngroup.co.uk

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