Village pub hit by triple whammy of road works means a 60 mile round trip for some customers

Dennis and Gina Birch from the Lamb and Flag. Picture: Steve Williams.

Dennis and Gina Birch from the Lamb and Flag. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

A pub landlord says he is still open for business despite being hit with a triple whammy of reasons why some people are having to make a 60 mile round trip to get to the village.

Ouse Washes at Welney have been flooded for around 12 days.

The alternative route via Nordelph closed today for works and a further set of road works have closed access via Lakes End.

Dennis Birch, landlord at the Lamb and Flag, said: “I am still open from 8am to 11pm but it is awful to see the drop in trade and know I can’t do anything about it.

“To give you an idea of how it impacts, on a Tuesday night it’s steak and fish specials, we usually serve 50 meals. Last Tuesday we served seven.

“The result for trade meant I was down £3,500 in one week. It’s not just me, everyone in the village suffers.

“Yet we can’t insure against this. I have an insurance but when I called they said I can’t claim because the Wash floods all the time.”

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When he called King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council to ask for a business rate rebate, seeing as he was down so much in trading, they said the same - not possible as the wash floods all the time.

“We have been hit by a triple whammy of road works,” he said.

“One member of staff came to work in Welney from Southery and it added an extra 15 miles on their journey.

“If you want to get to Littleport to Welney or vice versa for example, a 10 mile round trip suddenly becomes 60. It is extra time, petrol and stress for poor people commuting in or out of the village.”

Heavy rainfall causes the River Ouse level at Welney Causeway to rise and spill over onto the flood plains, which were built to store excess water centuries ago.

Flooding makes the A1101 impassable between Welney and Suspension Bridge, leaving the village cut off from the south and drivers facing a 30-mile detour.

In 2016, the road was closed for more than a week after days of heavy rainfall led to water levels rising to three metres in some places.

In January 2016 a flood summit was held in Downham Market, organised by three local MPs, that heard a permanent solution to the crossing could cost £5million.

The meeting heard that closures caused by flooding would be reduced by more than 50 per cent if the minimum height of the road was raised by one metre.

Initial estimates had suggested the work would cost around £1 million to complete but highways officials felt that it would cost around £5 million, because of the need for more extensive works.

MP Steve Barclay said he has continued to raise the issue of flooding at Welney since 2013.

In 2014 he called a meeting at Chatteris to discuss the wider implications of flooding in the Fens.