Roadworks cost me £18k - and now council wants my money!
SPANISH restaurant owner Malcolm Cook didn’t need a bull to see red when he received a letter from the chief executive of Warwick District Council requesting ‘sponsorship’ towards improving the look of local traffic islands.
Incandescent with rage, Mr Cook fired back a letter accusing district chief Chris Elliott of a total lack of sensitivity in the light of the thousands of pounds lost by Warwick traders during the long-delayed upgrade to Jury Street and High Street.
Mr Cook, who has run the Catalan restaurant in Jury Street for the past eight years, says the never-ending roadworks cost him £18,000 in the past three months.
Even now the scheme is not entirely finished as the road - temporarily surfaced in time for the Olympic torch - still needs more attention from county council’s contractors.
And although most traders blame the county for the delays, it was the letter from the district council requesting sponsorship for landscaping on traffic islands that tipped Mr Cook over the edge.
He advised Mr Elliott to tell his advertising company partners, Immediate Solutions, to go “take a running jump.”
Mr Cook said: “My business fell 30 per cent during the roadworks in April and May following six months of steady growth. That was the county’s fault but now the district not only won’t let us claim relief on our business rates but wants money for the very things we pay those rates for.”
An apologetic Mr Elliott says he accepts the “insensitivity of timing” of his appeal for sponsorship.
But he said while the district collects £60 million a year in business rates from local companies, this cash went into a national pot from which the district only receives back £8 million which simply did not cover the sort of visual amenities on roadsides that will present towns in the best possible light. Mr Elliott added: “I am fully aware of the impact recent road works have had on Warwick town centre and the businesses therein. It as a matter this council regrets but has no control over as the works are the responsibility of the county council.
“Business Rate relief was estimated to cost in the region of £300,000 which very simply, I regret to say, we would have found too difficult to find when our overall grand from central government is going down by 28 per cent over four years.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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