COMPENSATION should be paid to businesses in a South Lakeland village which has suffered an 18-month hit after a bridge was lost in the 2015 floods, says and MP.
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has written to the Business Minister to demand compensation for businesses in Staveley that have lost trade over closure of the Old Gowan Bridge.
“For businesses in Staveley, the hardship caused by the floods of 2015 is still not over," said Mr Farron. "They will have waited a year and a half for this bridge to reopen, with trade hit every single day by reduced footfall.
"The bridge’s closure has sent the symbolic message that the village is closed, and businesses have suffered for it. The government must look at what can be done to compensate these businesses. They have been through an incredibly difficult year and a half and have worked hard to stay in business and protect jobs.
"If the government had prioritised getting bridges like this one back open and provided the resources to make it happen, these businesses would not have been put through this. They deserve compensation.”
The bridge was damaged beyond repair during the floods following Storm Desmond in December 2015.
David Brockbank, owner of Staveley Mill Yard, said: "We have suffered a big loss of trade and it's going to take a long time to get that back.
"It's a double-edged sword, we lost a lot of business and once the bridge is open we need to lure the customers back with any means that we can.
"It would be good to get compensation for the loss of trade, as in cold hard cash, but also any help with promotion and advertising for the village businesses is needed, such as support from the Lake District National Park Authority for signs along the A591 and promotion in the South Lakeland District Council publications."
Annabel Williams, joint owner of Staveley Mill Yard, said: "Compensation would be great for the businesses in Staveley in various forms. We need to work with the council to provide new signage, and with money for advertising and PR to bring people back into the village Tim’s initiative would be extremely welcome."
A government spokesman said: “We remain committed to supporting communities affected by the storms and have paid out £26 million to help households and businesses in Cumbria get back on their feet.
“We’ve also provided £107 million to help rebuild local highway infrastructure in Cumbria and it’s now up to the council to reopen the bridge as soon as they can.”
A new bridge is expected to be completed by May 16, and the village community will be celebrating with an event called '500 ways to cross a bridge.'