A York café owner has criticised the Environment Agency for forcing her to close the business just weeks after it reopened.
Karen Moir owns the Perky Peacock in the Postern Tower on North Street.
It has enjoyed brisk trade at its riverside tables and chairs since the outdoor reopening last month.
But it will be closed again from tomorrow (Tuesday) till Friday because preparations to install new flood gates is taking up all the space.
It will reopen on Saturday, 8 May.
Karen says this is just the latest problem she has had with the Environment Agency.
She said she wasn’t consulted on plans to replace the flood gates under Lendal Bridge just yards from her business, and only found out when customers told her.
Then she was told the work would begin at the start of April. This was then delayed by two weeks because the EA ‘hadn’t got the cycle routes approved’.
Karen was told the completion date – the beginning of July – was unaffected, only to be later informed it wouldn’t be completed till 22 July.
‘Total lack of respect’
Under the original plans, the work would take up half of the road outside the Perky Peacock. Then came another alteration, with all the work set to take place on the other side of the bridge next to Aviva. So she could still have her tables outside.
Finally, last week she discovered that the Environment Agency is going to close off almost all of the area next to the café – making it impossible for them to put out tables and chairs, and therefore to trade at all.
This is because the EA needs to bring in temporary flood defence blocks in from the café side.
“I have stock and rotas in place to continue working – and now it seems I’m going to have to close on Tuesday for five days,” Karen told YorkMix.
“We’ve worked so hard all the way through Covid. We’ve stayed open just about as much as we could. And then to have this…”
Even when this week’s work is done she worries about the ongoing affect on the business. “It won’t look like we’re open, it’ll look like a construction site,” she said.
“I’m also concerned about the business because they’re going to divert all the cycle routes – I’m going to have no passing trade coming either way.”
She was told to apply for compensation to the Environment Agency for loss of trade – but didn’t receive a reply for more than seven weeks, and that is still not resolved.
Karen said she understood the need to improve York’s flood defences. “But it’s the total lack of respect and lack of information in the way it’s been done right from the very beginning.”
Ben Hughes, director of the Environment Agency York Flood Alleviation Scheme, said: “We understand the last year has been an incredibly difficult time for local businesses and we endeavour to ensure our flood alleviation work has the least impact possible.
“Upgrading the floodgate under Lendal Bridge is an essential part of the £45 million York Flood Alleviation Scheme that will better protect 2,000 homes and businesses, and key infrastructure in the city, helping to reduce the impact of flooding to the local economy for decades to come.
“We have done our utmost to keep the owner of the Perky Peacock informed of our plans every step of the way and will compensate any financial losses that might be incurred due to our work.”