Traders on a York street blighted by roadworks say they have lost up to 80% of their income – and some businesses are being forced to close temporarily.
Work to install anti-terror bollards on Goodramgate has seen the road and one pavement closed off.
Several businesses are now hidden by large, opaque hoardings, and they say passing trade has disappeared.
Given that it is six years since discussion about installing anti-terror measures in York first began, businesses are asking why the council has timed the disruption to coincide with the peak trading weeks of the summer holidays.
Even those food and drink businesses who have retained support from loyal customers say their regulars are leaving early because of the noise of the works.
And all the people we spoke to said the lack of communication by City of York Council, both before and during the works, has left them infuriated.
Here’s what some of the businesses affected told YorkMix.
The shop owners
Anthony Lewis opened Viking gift shop The Knutti Store with his husband Jonathan Burgoyne just under four weeks ago.
He says they would have deferred taking up the lease if they’d known the roadworks were coming.
Instead, they had an “absolutely phenomenal” first two weeks, with stock selling out.
“Then the barriers went up,” Anthony said. “We were hidden from sight. We are literally invisible on the street. And then the pneumatic drilling started.
“That’s where we are now – it is awful being in the shop. On two different days we had zero customers, because we’re invisible now.”
He said he first learned of the upcoming work when a member of the contractors’ team dropped off a letter, which promised ‘passing pedestrian traffic will not be impacted’. “And obviously that wasn’t a true statement.”
Anthony has spoken to a senior council officer about the impact the roadworks have had on The Knutti Store.
“It was an uncomfortable conversation,” he said.
“I was told that I have no right to passing pedestrian traffic. I was told if I rely on the summer for passing business, because it’s the peak season, then I should ‘learn to budget better for my business’.”
In reality, Anthony said “we can’t see out and no one can see in. So there’s no point being here. So we’re going to have to close and take the hit.”
Anthony said they were planning to close midweek, and possibly reopen at the weekend when the drilling had stopped.
He said the council “need to apologise, not just pay lip service to us but apologise that they have done this. It’s highly destructive and it’s upset a lot of people.”
The café owners
Another business planning to shut up shop is The Old York Tea Room. The popular café has been run by Tony Vickers and Thomas Bojaczuk since March.
The roadworks and hoardings haven’t reached their tea room yet, but they will. Even now, “footfall has dropped massively,” Tony said. Their takings are down by 70%.
It’s because people at the Minster end of Goodramgate are opting not to walk past the roadworks, and are cutting through Deangate instead.
“As the roadworks start to come closer to the building, people aren’t going to want to come in and sit and drink tea and look at a building site,” Tony said.
“They don’t want to hear the sounds. It’s just not pleasant atmosphere to be in. So we’re actually intending to close when the roadworks come outside.”
Thomas said: “We do understand the work has to be done. It’s for our safety – they invest in the city, which is absolutely fantastic. But they could have waited for two weeks.”
Arjan Boci and Dennis Zeka renovated and opened the beautiful La Piazza Antica restaurant in April.
They say they’ve lost 60% in trade since the roadworks began.
“People cannot see us,” Arjan told YorkMix. “York is a tourist place and we expect tourists to come in. But it is impossible – people don’t know where we are.”
He said the vibrations from the roadworks were shaking the ancient, Grade I listed building. The noise is “a nightmare”.
They have explained their problems to the council, but have had little response, describing the authority’s attitude as “not nice”.
One thing the council could do to help would be to reduce or drop business rates for the period of the roadworks. When Arjan suggested that, he was told no, the council would not discuss the idea.
He added: “Why didn’t they choose October, November when it is quiet and the kids are at school?”
For 14 years, Graham Stamp and Linda Roberts have run the traditional Snickleway Inn, attracting a mix of locals and visitors.
People love the atmosphere, the fine selection of cask ales, and the regular live music nights.
They got through Covid, and were having a good summer – until the roadworks arrived.
Graham told YorkMix: “The whole of this side of the street has been closed down basically.
“You’re not getting the passing footfall.”
And even if visitors managed to spot the Snickleway behind the hoardings, they wouldn’t come in because “they’re not wanting to pick the pub that’s next to the building site”.
“Daytime’s have gone downhill,” said Linda. “People can’t see us.”
Graham said the noise was “pretty bad” and was forcing regulars to leave early because they couldn’t stand it.
“The timings have killed things basically,” he added. “If they’d scheduled the work for January, February when things are down generally, it would have made things a lot easier.
“But this has hit the school holidays, Ebor Week – a big season for people visiting and spending money.”
He said no one had been clear about the scale of the disruption before it started.
The council should pay compensation to the businesses affected, he argues. But businesses weren’t even being allowed to put signs up promoting their businesses on the huge hoardings – which instead advertise the construction company.
Other businesses on Goodramgate, including the Fancy Hanks restaurant and Coffee Culture, echoed the sentiments expressed above. And the Goodramgate Traders Association is deeply concerned about the planning, management, and consultation processes surrounding the works.
Association chair Zoe Sinclair said: “The road closures have severely disrupted the normal flow of foot traffic in the area.
“Many of our members have reported a sharp decline in customer visits. This work will continue for six weeks and includes the excavation of a trench along the entire length of Goodramgate.”
She added: “We invite the city council and contractors to meet with affected businesses to
review the situation and put in place measures to address these concerns so that we can restore normalcy to Goodramgate and ensure its continued success as the independent heart of York.”
City of York Council declined to comment.