Fury as Promenade set to close at height of season

By Ellen Grindley   |   Reporter   |
Monday 16th May 2022 9:30 am
Cove Cafe manager Ian Carroll
Cove Cafe manager Ian Carroll (Bob Simpson )

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BUSINESSES and residents are up in arms about plans by Network Rail to close access to the sea wall in Dawlish during the height of the summer season.

The rail company has announced it will be closing access to the sea wall promenade and the beach from the town gateway Colonnade at the viaduct to Boat Cove for nine weeks over the summer.

News of the closure has sparked outrage among residents and businesses gearing up for the main holiday season.

The rail company says the closure is necessary for public safety while engineers will be piling with heavy machinery in a ‘very restricted space at this final stage of construction’.

But it means access to the promenade will only be via the footbridge at Kennaway Tunnel while the beach will only be accessible by Boat Cove slipway.

In a letter to residents, a communications executive said: ‘We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. We appreciate this closure will be disappointing for the community.’

News of the latest disruption has come as a shock to some businesses dependent on summer trade.

One business which will be badly hit is the Cove Cafe at Coryton.

Manager Ian Carroll said he only learned about the plans through a customer and criticised Network Rail for a ‘lack of communication’.

He said: ‘We accept the work has to be done but why in the peak weeks in a town which is so dependent on the tourist industry. Day trippers will go elsewhere.

‘We are directly affected and it will have a massive impact on us and, again, Network Rail have not told us.

‘Hospitality has been so badly hit by Covid and now we are trying to get back on our feet.

‘This cafe is so hugely popular but this will impact so many people, we are going to be so severely affected financially and the implications are massive.’

Ian said the business is struggling to attract staff as well due to the pandemic and now with the rail works, they are facing a ‘double whammy’.

He said: ‘We are desperately relying on this period to make up trade from the long term impact.

‘Clearly we want to keep going and building on this. We rely on this period but this work will have a long term impact.’

Another resident said: ‘This devastating news will affect the whole town at the busiest time.

‘Following two years of Covid 19, businesses are trying to make up for the huge losses that they incurred, and this will effectively destroy the season.’

Teignbridge Council said the issue was a matter for Network Rail.

=Network Rail were unable to respond in time for this week’s paper but will give a detailed reply in due course.

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