A businessman has raised concerns that flood defence works in a Cumbrian town could have a negative impact on local firms, leading to potential job cuts. The project involves the installation of a pumping station at Appleby’s Broad Close car park, which is expected to remain closed for a period of 17 months.
Kyle McRae, who operates a pub and holiday cottages, fears that the closure of the car park will drive customers away, thus hurting local businesses. The Environment Agency has stated that it is attempting to reduce the length of the closure.
The objective of the scheme is to safeguard roughly 60 properties in the Chapel Street and Holme Street region by diverting water into the River Eden.
According to Kyle McRae, director of One Leisure, the majority of the 122 guests who stayed at his firm’s properties last week used the Broad Close car park.
He expressed concerns that the closure of the car park for 17 months due to the installation of a pumping station for flood defence works in Appleby could result in a decline in their business, potentially leading to job cuts for their 28 local staff.
The business has already faced setbacks due to the pandemic and rising costs of utilities and food bills.
Clare Clarke, the owner of the Masons Arms located in Long Marton, expressed her worry that the flood defence project could impact access to Appleby, which she visits twice a week for food and fuel.
She said, “We were not informed about the project until last week. The neighboring villages were also not notified. What are we supposed to do?”
The Environment Agency responded to the concerns, stating that it understood the worries of local residents and was exploring options to reduce the 17-month closure by reopening the car park in phases.
The agency also mentioned that it had pushed back the start date of the project to this autumn.