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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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Warning road closure could kill off trade in Cumbrian town

A pub landlord fears Cockermouth businesses will be crippled while the main road is closed for weeks for improvements.

Joe Hancock photo
Joe Hancock, of The Fletcher Christian pub

Joe Hancock of The Fletcher Christian, in Main Street, said that a major part of his trade, as well as many other businesses in the town, comes from the weekend night scene.

And he fears this will now slump after Main Street was closed off on Monday for £1.7m improvement works.

Mr Hancock said that meetings have been held between business owners, residents and Cumbria County Council for the past two years about the scheme, where assurances were made from the council that Main Street would remain open one-way during the works – but this has abruptly been changed, he said.

“We are horrified that last week it was sprung upon us that Main Street is not only closed, but locked and barricaded off,” he said. “Being a late-night venue for people who often don’t know the town this is going to have very serious consequences for us.

“There is no provision for the many coaches that feed Cockermouth’s night life, there’s no way to cross the road without a substantial walk so access to the shops and banks is difficult.

“We feel we’ve been misled for two years now and while Main Street will no doubt look lovely when it’s complete there will undoubtedly be fewer businesses to serve the town.”

The landlord is now pressing for business rates to be discounted while works are ongoing and is calling on Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham for help.

The rates are set by the government’s Valuation Agency Office (VOA) and collected by Allerdale Council. Sir Tony has pledged to write to the relevant authorities about the issue.

“We want to make them aware of the concerns and are asking them to reconsider reducing business rates to help businesses through this difficult period,” he added.

Allerdale Council will be offering free advice on rates relief to businesses later this month. The authority has been liaising with the VOA in Carlisle, which decides whether a company is eligible for a rebate.

A drop-in session will be held on March 19 where council staff will help business owners complete an application to the VOA.

Barbara Cannon, deputy leader of the council, said: “We know some of the small independent businesses in Cockermouth are concerned about how the closure of Main Street may affect their trade in the coming weeks so we want to offer them as much assistance as we can.

“Business owners have already been coming to us to ask if there could be financial help available if their businesses suffer some hardship as a result of the road closure, which is why we have set up these advice sessions.”

The county council originally hoped to keep one carriageway open during the works to minimise disruption. However, the road will be completely closed to traffic throughout the works which are due to be completed in August, apart from a reprieve at Easter.

The drop-in session is on Wednesday, March 19 at Cockermouth Town Hall between 1pm and 3pm.

Have your say

Cockermouth town centre is a mess at the moment. I work in a pub in the evenings and have never seen Main Street so quiet.

People are ignoring the road signs on South Street and are driving down the road even though there are no entry signs. They're having to mount the pavement to force their way past oncoming traffic which is causing delays.

Why not make the turning into Station Street off South Street left hand turn only? That would keep the traffic moving and would mean people could go up the hill past Farifield School, left at the lights and then come down past Sainsburys to turn right into Lorton Road? At least then the traffic from South Street would not get backed up and it might encourage people to drive back into town.

Or am I missing something?

Posted by Hayley on 13 March 2014 at 14:20

The work has to be done there will be a reason for closing it all probably to speed up the process. The coast road is a bloody mess due to flooding people can at least walk to the pub They will find a way

Posted by Sculls on 11 March 2014 at 16:19

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