Shop gets cash boost after flooding misery

Cllr Robert Humby with Martin and Debbie Clark
Cllr Robert Humby with Martin and Debbie Clark
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SHOPKEEPERS Martin and Debbie Clark are hoping for a brighter 2015 after their business was badly affected by flooding.

The couple, who run Lotts General Stores and Tea Room, in West Street, Hambledon, saw a 50 per cent drop in trade at the beginning of 2014 as the village was submerged under floodwaters for two months.

Lotts was badly affected as the tea room relies on tourism and passing trade which was disrupted by the road closure.

The Clarks realised the flooding had cut off the village from the outside world and organised a vital parcel delivery service from their shop.

Now the couple have received a helping hand from the government and Winchester City Council in the form of a business support grant.

The Clarks are now praying for dry weather over the next few weeks to prevent the village flooding again.

Mr Clark, 58, said: ‘We used the business support grant to fund works to the interior of the shop area to improve presentation and appeal.

‘These were the next planned works to develop our business but would not otherwise have been possible because of the impact of the floods on business takings last winter.’

Mrs Clark, 56, said: ‘We do need the support.

‘Although this has made a bit of a difference to us, we still need the support from the village.’

The Vine pub in Hambledon also benefited from the business support grant.

Councillor Robert Humby, in charge of economic development at Winchester council, said: ‘The grants are a good example of the government devolving responsibility to a local authority for allocation of the funding at a more local level.’

Tony Higham, chairman of Hambledon Flood Action Group, said the jury was still out on whether the groundwater would rise up and flood the roads.

A period of drier weather has stabilised the levels and villagers are hoping this continues.

Mr Higham said: ‘From our point of view we are on amber alert to be prepared.’

Work on a £3.8m underground pipe beneath the B2150 and along West Street is likely to be slightly delayed and start in February or March.