Up in arms at road closure

The Tholton

The Tholton

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The owner of a business which operates from the picturesque Tholt-y-Will glen says a forthcoming road closure will have a devastating effect on her trade.

Susannah Goodson, who runs the Tholton Tea Room wheat-free patisserie, said the closure from March to May, to rebuild a retaining wall at the side of the road, coincided with two of their potentially busiest weekends of the year.

Writing on the social networking website Facebook, she said: ‘As it stands at the moment there is no access, including for pedestrians or walkers. I don’t know what arrangements are made for residents.

‘It’s 10 weeks of trading just wiped out. I have already bought stock for opening in early March. I can’t believe this. Somebody doesn’t want our business to succeed.’

Speaking to the Isle of Man Examiner, she said: ‘I don’t know who decided this and how long ago but it was a bit of a shock to find out from the road closure notice in the local paper that we can’t open at the normal time.

‘May Day Bank Holiday weekend and Easter week can be very busy, one of our busiest periods if the weather is good. It will also affect the Bistro upstairs. I’m told by the contractors that the minimum is about eight weeks if the weather is good but it is likely to be nearer 12.

‘I was planning on opening in March as usual but now it’s not feasible until the road has reopened. I live in Sulby so my drive in would be much longer.’

Mrs Goodson added it would have been quite possible for the Department of Infrastructure (DoI) to contact her via the telephone number displayed on the tea room or by putting a message through the letterbox, but nothing was received.

‘We rent the building from the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture and we will be asking them for some kind of compensation,’ she said.

Karl Meier who runs the Bistro in the same building at Tholt-y-Will was also worried by the closure: ‘It doesn’t so much affect my business as destroy it. I have a list of 70 or 80 regular customers to call and tell them we will not be opening in March as planned. The road is closed for three months: I don’t know where I go from here. I have to remain closed for the three months while the work is done because in practice they close the Mountain Road so often – bad weather, fallen trees, roadworks, accidents. Then it’s questionable if it’s worth opening just for three months in the summer.

‘The government have known for two or three years the work was needed and if they had told us, it would not have been a problem, but now we have bought stock. I also have to tell two staff there’s no job for them.’

Ian Hutchinson who lives at Tholt-y-Will and whose family also owns and rents out Corrody Cottage said the DoI had been in contact with them to warn of the impending road closure.

He said they did not expect any major impact on the holiday cottage bookings but he added they had some worries about access to Ramsey and Douglas because all journeys would be via the Mountain Road while the work was carried out.

‘Travel to Ramsey is pretty much unaffected for us whether it’s over the mountain or via Sulby. The problem could be that the closure is at a time when we are most likely to have snow which could close the Mountain Road. We have been assured that every effort will be made to keep the road open.’

Nigel Foster, highway services manager, confirmed the A14 Tholt-y-Will Road to Sulby Glen would be closed for vehicle or pedestrian access by Tholt-y-Will plantation from 6am on February 19 to 6pm on May 19, but could reopen sooner if work is completed ahead of schedule.

The closure is to allow repairs to be done to the retaining wall below the road.

He pointed out the affected area at the side of the road has been coned off for some months and that access to properties will be maintained, as well as access for emergency vehicles.

Parking is suspended on the closed section of road and the alternative route is via the Mountain Road.

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