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Business worry as Cheddar Gorge closure reaches nearly 70 days

By Cheddar Valley Gazette  |  Posted: January 31, 2013

Cheddar Gorge

It is now day 67 since the B3135 closed in Cheddar Gorge, with no sign of it reopening

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It is now day 67 since the B3135 closed in Cheddar Gorge, with no sign of it reopening.

The weather seems determined to keep the convenient road through the natural attraction shut, with the road edges nibbled away by running water, ice and thawing. The water flow is from Black Rock, with the road particluarly bad at Horseshoe Bend.

The recent drop of snow on the county’s road network has robbed the road of highways workmen who were sizing up the project.

A Somerset County Council spokesman said: “There is still a problem with water flowing down the road, although we have been able to do some repair work.

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“Conditions have been treacherous there during the cold weather, a gritter driver treating the road where it remains open struggled to keep control on the ice.

“At the same time as trying to open the road, we are working with the caves manager, English Nature and the National Trust on a long-term solution to water flow like this causing a closure.”

Paul Lacey, chairman of Cheddar Traders Association, said in some ways it does not affect seasonal shops in the gorge, but a road closure is never good business.

He said: “Arguably this is the best time for it to happen. But it is never a good time to happen. The water board’s closure is also having an effect.

“It’s been a tough year with roadworks ever since the market cross was hit last year.”

Cliff Street and Union Street remain closed for two-and-a-half weeks while Bristol Water replaces the iron water main pipe with a plastic version. Work is to end February 12 and 15, respectively.

Off-licence owner Fred Wilde of gorge-based West Country Ales said traffic reports saying the road is closed are misleading people into thinking there is no access to the shops.

He said: “Last week between Monday and Friday I saw three people. Sales are way down on last year to the point where it’s cheaper to be closed.

“Part of the issue is the signage. It’s only when you get to the actual entrance to Cliff Street that people are made aware of the fact that the businesses are still open.

“The other thing that hasn’t helped is that the media, both newspapers and radio, keep reporting on the fact that the gorge is closed with no mention that the shops are open and that there is access to the bottom end where we all are.”

Is the absence of the gorge road making your life a misery? How are you coping? Write to editor@midsomnews.co.uk or The Editor, Cheddar Valley Gazette, Southover, Wells, BA5 1UH.

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