‘Closure is driving me round the bend’

Joe outside his business, next to the road closure
Joe outside his business, next to the road closure

A business owner says he and his customers are being driven round the bend by a sudden road closure which blocked direct access to his town centre premises.

Joe Jefferson, who has run Minter’s Car Wash in St Annes for the past 14 years, has seen takings plummet since the junction with Park Road was closed while work is carried out on the side of adjacent premises.

Normally on a Friday, which can be the busiest day of the weekend, I would expect to take around £300 – last Friday I took little more than £75

A diversion has been signposted by highways authority Lancashire County Council, but the one-way system in the town centre means drivers face a lengthy detour to get to his premises and Mr Jefferson said: “A lot of them give up and are just staying away.

“Normally on a Friday, which can be the busiest day of the weekend, I would expect to take around £300 – last Friday I took little more than £75.

and on Monday, just one car came in for cleaning, whereas I would normally expect to see 30 or more.

“It’s disastrous for the business and I have been told it could be like this for two weeks.”

Mr Jefferson says his misery at the situation was compounded by him having no warning of the closure - and having to alternate between Fylde Council, who he found has declared the adjacent building unsafe, and Lancashire County Council, as the highway authority, in a bid to find out what was going on and how long the road would be closed.

“The first I knew about the entrance from Park Road being blocked off was when I turned up for work last Thursday morning,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.

“I have spent 14 years building up this business and have never known business so bad.

“I have cleaning contracts with the police and taxi firms and time is important to them.

“They are too busy to spend ages driving round and round to get to us.

“And at this time of year, we get quite a lot of visitors in and when they see the access from Park Road blocked, they will just go elsewhere.

“The one-way system makes the alternative a really roundabout route - the passing trade has just dried up.

“I asked the County Council if they could do anything to help, like temporarily allowing drivers to turn left from Wood Street into St Andrew’s Road South but they said by the time that could be looked at, the work would be over.

“In the meantime, I am losing money every day and it is desperately frustrating.

“I have two guys working with me and I hope I don’t have to look at play-offs.”

Arnold Sumner, co-ordinator of St Annes Chamber of Trade, is landlord of the building occupied by Mr Jefferson’s business and he said: “The closure of the access from Park Road has had a devastating effect on Joe’s business and I hope it is opened again as soon as possible.

“It’s dreadful that the first he knew about it was when he turned up for work and the confusion over which council is responsible for what just adds to the frustration.”

Keith Vernon, Fylde Council’s head of building control, said: “It was felt the adjacent building was potentially dangerous and the highway authority was contacted to introduce an emergency closure of the road for health and safety reasons while the work is carried out.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “Fylde Council has declared the building unsafe which means the road must be closed immediately in case of risk to anyone using it.

“We’ve signed a diversion so that people can still access Back St Annes Road West.”