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Traders caged in by scaffolding fear businesses at risk

June 23, 2014 12:56 PM

Wulfstan Way tradersCambridge shopkeepers fear their businesses have been put at risk after they were caged in by scaffolding for roof repairs.

The traders at Wulfstan Way have seen takings fall as customers drive past without stopping unaware that the shops are open.

And despite the scaffolding going up two weeks ago, work has still not started on the roof of the council-owned building.

They have called on Cambridge City Councillor, Liberal Democrat Tim Moore who represents Queen Edith's to take up the issue with the City Council.

He is pushing the council to give the traders rebates on their business rates as compensation for their loss of trade.

Cllr Moore said: "This situation is having a serious impact on these small businesses with some experiencing up to a 50 per cent drop in trade. Signs have been put on the scaffolding saying the businesses are open but they are too small and can't be seen from the road so customers are going past.

"I want the council to agree rate rebates for these traders, put up larger signs and consider phasing future work so that not all businesses are affected at once.

"The scaffolding went up two weeks ago but work still hasn't started and the traders don't know how long it will take to finish. This is an unacceptable situation."

Brian Unwin, who opened Authentic Cakes in 2005 has seen his takings drop by as much as £300 a day.

Despite the fall in customers, he still has to meet rates of £353 a month and rent of £854 a month.

He said: "I have received phone calls from people asking whether we are open because they can't see the lights are on from the road. We are shrouded and they assume we are shut down.

"Trading has been difficult recently and although we are still keeping our heads above water, we can't afford to go down any further"

Ian Evison who runs The Coffee Shop said: "My takings are down quite a bit. On the first Saturday after the scaffolding went up I was down £200. If it goes on like that it will give us real problems.

"Mornings are normally our busiest times but they are dead. Our regular customers know we are open but we get a lot of passing trade.

"I opened the business two years ago and I'm still trying to build it up."

Cambridge City Council's Head of Property Services, Dave Prinsep told Cllr Moore: "Generally compensation is not paid where landlords undertake works to comply with their repairing obligations under a lease but there is usually a duty to act reasonably and cause as little disruption as possible.

"Our approach with regard to any rent rebate would be to discuss this with individual tenants and seek to clarify the impact as this is likely to vary depending upon the type of business."

Pictured (from left) Queen Edith's Cllr, George Pippas, hairdresser Julie Smith from Hairtique, Avril Unwin from Authentic Cakes, Ian Evison from The Coffee Shop and Queen Edith's Councillor, Tim Moore.