High Street carnage came to Chester this week as six big names announced they were in danger of closing. Special report by JO HENWOOD and KATIE BAMBER.
A CHESTER business owner has hit out at the council after a slump in sales forced her Bridge Street delicatessen to close.
Olio and Farina was a popular draw for city food lovers, offering a range of high quality Italian food and kitchenware – but suffered a fall in takings in recent months.
And on Friday the deli closed its doors for good after almost four years in business, leaving 10 staff members unemployed.
“It’s very sad because we did have a very, very loyal, regular customer base,” said owner Belinda Diamond, who puts the drop in custom down to an extensive programme of roadworks outside her premises.
The works, funded by Cheshire West and Chester Council and Chester Renaissance, ran from January to May. They followed gas repairs from August to November last year.
Belinda said: “In that time we basically completely disappeared. We were surrounded by a metal cage, the footpath was closed and there was drilling. It was appalling.
Belinda made the decision to close the deli despite a year’s lease remaining on the premises.
She has written to the council voicing her dissatisfaction at the handling of the roadworks.
“Chester’s my home city, but I wouldn’t start a business here now if you paid me.
“Maybe the council should consider spending money on other things rather than wrapping trees in ribbons.”
A Cheshire West & Chester Council spokesman said: “The council is saddened to hear of any business leaving Chester.
“As a council we have a statutory obligation to maintain the highway in a safe condition and the condition of the footways in Bridge Street was becoming increasingly worse each year.
“This public realm work began after the gas infrastructure works had been completed at the end of November and a road works embargo was applied until late January to allow unhindered trade over the Christmas period.
“It is always the council’s intention to carry out works on the highway with the minimum of disruption. Unfortunately some locations, particularly in the city centre, are more complex, and in this case led to unexpected delays.”