Posted: 04/09/2018

Independents powerless in the face of roadworks and closures

Roadworks signs have been a familiar sight this summer

The plight of an Aberdeenshire farm shop has highlighted how few rights retailers have when it comes to minimizing the commercial damage done by roadworks and road closures.

Castleton Farm Shop has seen turnover plummet since the beginning of work on Abbeyton Bridge on the B966, near Fordoun, which forces southbound drivers to take a 20-mile diversion.

Roadworks, closures and diversions have caused problems for businesses and the general public nationwide this summer, often reducing footfall heavily.

Sales are down more than 30%, owner Ross Mitchell told FFD. He added that he was only given minimal notice about the diversion and the timescale was indefinite.

“They are saying a minimum of two or three years,” said Mitchell, who has taken legal advice.

“At the moment, there is nothing we can do because it’s for safety reasons. It’s tough to take. We will have to make cuts and there will be job losses if this goes on for three years.”

Elsewhere, The Hampstead Butcher & Providore in north London has suffered due to disruption from the closure of a lane of traffic in Rosslyn Hill over the summer holidays.

Manager Anna Giubega told FFD that deliveries had been affected. “The delivery guys have some issues because they can’t park opposite the shop so they have to carry stuff by trolley.”

Sales, however, had not been hit yet but the shop has not been able to set out its footfall-driving cooking stall because of the dust from the construction work.  

There is no statutory requirement for compensation to be paid to businesses impacted by road closures associated with road improvements although occasionally ex-gratia payments have been made. 

Compensation may be forthcoming in certain circumstances where utility companies are involved, such as gas, electric and water, but it rarely is, FFD research shows.

In the case of Castleton Farm Shop, Aberdeenshire Council said the bridge was at risk of collapse forcing immediate closure in the interest of safety.

“Discussions are ongoing with Network Rail to determine the most appropriate way forward. However, there are no timescales for reopening the road at this juncture,” a spokesman said. “It is not considered that there is any basis for making any compensation payment to Castleton.”

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