St Albans restaurant owner's woe over hotel building work
PUBLISHED: 15:02 31 July 2014 | UPDATED: 15:02 31 July 2014
A concerned restaurateur is worried about the future of his business after finding himself in the centre of city centre building works.
Fouad Hassan, owner of Bar Meze on Adelaide Street in St Albans, has seen profits drop by 25 per cent since the construction of a Premier Inn started opposite his restaurant.
He said the work was set to continue for the next four to six weeks and his concerns are mounting.
He said: “I came in this morning and the building fence was right up to the front door and the two roads to the restaurant were closed, so nobody could get in. The only person affected is me.
“I didn’t have many people in today. I’ve only had two tables and those were friends who came in to say hello and they had lunch. It’s been bad.”
Not only is it hard for people to access the restaurant but Fouad says it is also stopping the restaurant functioning as normal.
He went on: “I used to put my tables out when it was sunny; we cannot even open the windows now because the dust and noise is that bad.
“What can I do? Write to the council? They don’t listen. They don’t care. You’d think that they would reduce the rates, they won’t.”
Construction of the new hotel is not the only building project affecting Bar Meze – work on what used to be Veer Dhara restaurant in St Peter’s Street have left Fouad unable to use his rented parking space.
He added: “I can’t even access it with all the building works going on around us. I’ve said this all to the council but have not heard back.
“We have not had an apology from anybody. Nobody communicates with us. There is no respect really.”
After 15 years of business, it is Bar Meze’s established reputation that keeps the restaurant afloat.
Fouad said: “We would be down a lot more had it not been for our regular and loyal customers, thank God.”
Commenting on the effect of road closures, a Herts county council spokesperson said: “We consider affected schools and places of work and leisure when the works are planned. However some exceptional works require traffic management during peak times.”
Colm O’Callaghan, deputy chief executive (finance) at St Albans district council, commented: “Business rates are set by central government and we collect them.
“We retain approximately 3% to spend on delivering public services and the balance is passed on to the Government, with some going to Hertfordshire County Council.
“A business can challenge the rateable value of their premises by contacting the local Valuation Office Agency, which is part of HM Revenue and Customs.”