Road chasm leaves West Hill Garage in a hole

Debra and Gary Tennant from West Hill Garage are concerned about the length of time the road will re

Debra and Gary Tennant from West Hill Garage are concerned about the length of time the road will remain shut between the village and Ottery St Mary. Ref sho 05-16SH 3672. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Business suffering as route set to stay closed ‘until further notice’

A couple have been left fearing for their livelihood after being told a road closure that has killed their passing trade might not be sorted out for months.

Gary and Debra Tennant (pictured) say they are seriously worried about how West Hill Garage will survive even another two months after seeing fuel sales drop by more than 50 per cent in less than a week.

A huge hole forced the closure of the main road between the village and Ottery on Wednesday, January 27, and highways chiefs confirmed last week that it is not known when the route will be reopened.

Gary – who has worked in the garage since 1993 and bought it around two years ago - said: “We would normally have a constant flow of fuel customers. How rapidly it’s gone down would suggest that we could not survive another two months at this level.

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“I agree it’s not safe to use the road as there is a massive chasm under it. But the issue is that I have been told nothing will happen until April.

“I would have imagined that there might be some sort of emergency funding, but was told that no funding exists or was available, which I find unbelievable. Despite it being a scheduled bus route, school bus route and a primary gritted road, it’s not considered a priority route.

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“As the closure has continued, our fuel sales have dropped dramatically and some days we are more than 50 per cent down.

“A lot of our regular customers have been very supportive and have been going out of their way to come for fuel, but there is no passing trade now at all.

“I would say we would be seriously worried about how we will carry on in business if it is not sorted before April. Our overheads stay the same whether people come or not.

“From our point of view, this is our livelihood, but it is also creating problems for residents in the village trying to get to shops and hospital appointments. Buses cannot run through and the bus is a lifeline to some of them.”

The couple added that they were only just recovering from a road closure in the autumn that hit their business.

A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “A collapsed culvert has caused a large hole in the road, which reaches beyond the centre line. Due to the extent of the repairs needed, we are unable to start work immediately and there is not enough road width to use temporary lights, so unfortunately the road will remain closed until further notice.

“The public’s safety is our first priority.

“We’ll be reviewing the situation again later in the month.”

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