Village pub facing closure due to roadworks

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Too little too late: Ufford Crown concerned impact local road closures will have on business (Credit: Getty/northlightimages)
Too little too late: Ufford Crown concerned impact local road closures will have on business (Credit: Getty/northlightimages)

Related tags Health and safety Suffolk Property

A village pub could be forced to close due to proposed road closures in the area potentially causing irreversible damage to the business.

Gas distribution company Cadent shared plans to close the main road through the village of Ufford, Suffolk, previously the A12, for around 12-weeks in order to carry out “essential” work to replace gas mains.

Cadent asserted it was working with local residents, councils and businesses to “minimise” damage.

However, owner of the Ufford Crown, Polly Durrant, told the Morning Advertiser (MA)​ the closure would mean the pub losing out on vital passing trade in an already challenging economic climate.

She added while the upgrades were “essential”, there must be another way to conduct the upgrades without closing the road, such as a road traffic management system.

“The way things are at the moment in the pub industry, you’re literally living week by week and it only takes a few bad weeks to damage your business.

“Our margins have never been smaller [because of the cost of everything] and all it will take is for two or three or four weeks of not having that passing trade and we could be looking at closure.

“Cadent have said they've got a compensation scheme, but I just think it'll be too little, too late. The damage will have already been done”, Durrant continued.

First step

The licensee also claimed while the council and Cadent assured ‘businesses open as usual’ signage would be made “very clear”, with diversion signs “everywhere”, this would only make matters more “confusing”.

However, Durrant explained a final decision on how the works would be carried out was yet to be made.

She said: “The only good news for us would be that the road won't be closed and I'm not hopeful.

“We're waiting at the moment for news as to what's going to happen, but we're facing a road closure throughout the summer holidays, and that is all of our tourist traffic and walk-ins that will not be passing our pub, there'll be no footfall, no passing trade, and it's going to be hugely damaging for us.”

The gas firm explained it held a public meeting in Ufford on 23 May so residents and businesses could share their concerns and questions about the proposed mains replacement programme, but that it would “require the closure of the main road”.

Caden head of customer experience Eleanor Lewis told the MA: “We've now considered all of the points raised and have discussed them with Ufford Parish Council and Suffolk County Council - as well as bus operators, and other local parish councils - as we design a solution to complete these mandatory works.

"The first step in this process has been to excavate some trial holes which will enable us to firmly establish if any other engineering options are available to us.

“When this has been completed, we aim to have a confirmed plan of action in place within 15 days.”

However, Durrant stated the whole village was “up in arms” as the proposed diversion was too long and would cause chaos, impacting more than just the pub.

She explained: “It's not just the demise of our business, the school bus has not been able to get through all the vehicles that have been sent on this 13-mile diversion devised by Caden and Suffolk highways.

Safety concerns 

“People are not going to take that diversion; they're going to cruise through the village and it’s going to be a safety concern.

“What we've said right from the start is this road closure doesn't have to happen; they must be able to provide some sort of access.”

Durrant also shared concerns regarding other similar ongoing works the area, which she claimed the council had stated could go on until as long as January 2025.

The operator added while the council and Cadent had both been in touch regarding the issues, communication had initially been “poor” with residents, the Parish Council and businesses.

Though Lewis added Cadent was working with other companies involved with carrying out the works in a bid to “minimise the overall impact for the local community”.

In addition, head of customer experience explained once a plan had been “agreed” with the council Cadent would look to arrange a meeting with local businesses to address “individual concerns and ways of support”.

She continued: “This will include providing detailed information on the Cadent small business compensation scheme.

“We continue to be in regular contact with Ufford Parish Council and Suffolk County Council, but if anyone does have any questions, please do [contact us].”

The MA contacted the council for comment but had received a response at the time of publication 

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