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Restaurateur leads protests over road closure in London

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A London restaurateur led a traffic-stopping demonstration last week to protest about the closure of a road in Greenwich.

Maurice Charles, who opened the 180-seat Gastro Gastro bar and restaurant seven months ago, said his takings had plummeted by two-thirds in the first few weeks after his side of the road was closed on 10 April.

Charles mustered support from 30 other local businesses to protest over the closure. “If I do not take these drastic actions, then I may lose my business and my livelihood,” he explained.

The closure followed the appearance of a hole in the road at Blackheath Hill when ancient chalk mines below collapsed. But local businesses cannot see why their section of the road needs to remain closed.

Charles said Transport for London had given no date for the reopening of the road and had done nothing to reduce the effects on local businesses.

Insurance companies are refusing to compensate the traders as they regard the situation as an “act of God”.

Although local people are still using the restaurant, Charles said that passing trade had been lost because of a wide diversion. Suppliers, too, are finding it hard to reach him. He estimates that he is losing about £10,000 a week.

Charles has been forced to lay off one chef, two waitresses and one porter, and to close what had been an all-day restaurant at lunchtimes and on Mondays.

by Angela Frewin

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 27 June – 3 July 2002

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