Road collapse fallout has hit business hard

WORRIED Maria Lewis owns and runs Breezes Cafe in Hill Head.    Picture: Steve Reid (110265-019)

WORRIED Maria Lewis owns and runs Breezes Cafe in Hill Head. Picture: Steve Reid (110265-019)

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A CAFE has been left struggling for survival after being caught in the aftermath of a nearby road collapsing.

Maria and Wes Lewis took over a former clothes shop in Hill Head Road, Hill Head, in August 2009, and reopened it as Breezes Cafe.

But just as business appeared to be taking off, disaster struck in January last year when a stretch of the road opposite sheared off in a landslip.

Since then 100 yards of the road has been closed off and Hampshire County Council says it will stay that way until repairs are completed at the end of July.

Mrs Lewis, 45, said: ‘This has been a disaster for us and it’s nearly put us out of business. When the landslip happened we thought work would start on repairing it in the next month or so, but there’s been nothing happening.

‘We’re making less this year than we did last year, and it really should be the other way around.

‘We relied a lot on passing trade. Now the only traffic we get is from people who are coming to the Osborne View pub opposite.’

As a result of the downturn in business, the cafe has had to let a chef and a part-time member of staff go.

Mrs Lewis added: ‘I had retired from my previous business when the option came up to buy this shop and I thought it would be a brilliant place for a cafe.

‘The first five months were going so well to the point where we had put in for a £40,000 extension.

‘I would never have chosen to buy it if I had known this was going to happen.

‘We’re basically using our own money to keep this place afloat at the moment.

‘I am just keeping my head above water at the moment, but we are still open.’

Hampshire County Council has blamed legal arguments with residents affected by the landslip over who is liable to pay for the repairs to the road. In October Councillor Mel Kendal, who is in charge of environment matters for the county, decided to push ahead with repairs, which are expected to start in the spring.

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