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Pub landlord’s plea to locals

A landlord who says road closures nearly forced him to call time on his pub is appealing to locals for support when workmen close the road again later this month.

Laurie Cork, landlord of the Harewood End Inn, was left thousands of pounds out of pocket after the Highways Agency put signs up to close the busy A49 to allow workmen to carry out resurfacing work.

“This happened during January when I lost thousands of pounds in trade - they practically closed me down,” he said.

“What people didn’t realise is that while the road was closed, there was still access to businesses and my pub was open as normal - it’s just that people saw the signs and turned round and went elsewhere.”

He fears that when the agency is back carrying out further later this month, the signs will reappear and once again leave him out of pocket.

“Despite the signs, there is access beyond the road closure signs and I’m open for business as normal,” he added.

Herefordshire Council’s ward councillor, Russell B. Hamilton, said he’s hoping a plea to the public through the local media could help local businesses.

“We understand and appreciate the valuable work the Highways Agency is doing and we commend the workers for the way they’re getting on with it while trying to cause the minimum of disruption.

“However, the signs have caused a massive drop in trade and I fear for the livelihood of Mr Cork and others along the route of the work who have already suffered greatly because of the signs which do not make any mention of access to local amenities.

"Having spoken to the Highways Agency myself I am aware that the workman marshalling the road blocks will allow anyone wishing to access to private residences or businesses along the route to reach their destination.

“They will however need to take great care when passing through the road blocks given that there will be workers in the road.

“I would urge everyone to continue to support pubs and local businesses affected by these roadworks through these challenging times because they are there for our benefit and enjoyment."

The Highways Agency has advised that the next work starts on Monday, February 13, and will be on the stretch of A49 between Redhill and Rotherwas and work north of Much Birch.

This will be followed by resurfacing work from Much Birch to Pengethley, which is scheduled to take place during the second week of March.

The work is weather-dependent so the timings could change, the Highways Authority has warned.