Monkton Nature Reserve hit by 60% fall in income following road closure for Southern Water repair works

Monkton Nature Reserve

Monkton Nature Reserve has seen a 60% fall in income since Southern Water repair works closed the road to the site.

The A253 closure has been in place for around a fortnight and is now expected to run until December 8 while Southern Water carry out maintenance works.

But Dr Clive Nuttman, adviser to the Trustees at Monkton Nature Reserve, says there has been ‘traffic chaos’ with no prior notification of the road being shut, a lorry striking the reserve’s entrance as it tried to turn around and no ‘business open as usual’ signs until two weeks into the closure.

Dr Clive Nuttman

He said: “We have been suffering because of road closure, lack of notification, impact on our business and thoughtless drivers.

“A lorry that ignored the ‘Road Closed’ signs at the Monkton roundabout and tried to turn in our entrance was the second vehicle to strike our posts and a further one hit our gates. Earlier this year we spent £2k on getting our entrance and gates renovated and improved.

“The traffic chaos has been caused by drivers ignoring the signage at the roundabout; for 10 days we have been worried about the potential for accidents by these drivers, some of whom try to swing round in our entrance without slowing down.

“Apparently, Southern Water were given a ‘free permit’ by KCC Highways to shut this road and their sub-contractors, Clancy, were responsible for the signage.

“The latter has been spectacularly inadequate; aside from not actually closing off the A253 completely – access to Miller’s Lane in Monkton could have been organised via the village- our business has been impacted by the closure signs. It’s a struggle for survival at the moment for many organisations and this sort of thing does not help.

“Clancy did offer ‘Business Open as Usual’ signs which were added to the Monkton roundabout on Friday evening – at the end of the second week of closure.

“For us, it’s been ‘too little, too late’ as the closure (or management of) has had a huge impact on our business; our takings for the period of closure are 60% down – worse still, we are now into our last two weeks of trading before our Christmas closure when we rely on a boost to our income.

Monkton Nature Reserve Photo Tom Plastow

“After the various lockdowns, this has added insult to injury not least through the ineptitude of Southern Water. Our charity had an existential crisis three years ago when Southern Water slapped a 21-day notice on us to replace leaking pipes on our property; we complied to the tune of £15,000 with generous support from RiverOak, Pfizer and other supporters.

“Conversely, the faulty meter that prompted Southern Water to act at that time was only replaced on Friday 24th November, three years on from the problem. The pipework that they are now finally seeing to has included a two-year leak just across from our entrance at the Miller’s Lane turning.

“We have had contact with Cllr Derek Crow-Brown and MP Roger Gale and they have been very supportive of our plight and have made representations to Southern Water over the weekend. I will be attempting to get some sort of compensation from them for this mess.”

The reserve closes for the Christmas period between December 16th and January 6th. Usually at this time of year the reserve would have around 50+ visitors across a weekend but yesterday [December 3] there were just six.

Southern Water says teams are tackling a burst water main on the A253 ad the repair is made more complex as it is covered in three and a half feet of concrete.

Workers are continuing to dig down and locate where the burst is but it is taking longer than expected.

The company added: “We’re very sorry for the impact this is having on commuters, customers and businesses in the area and those who use Monkton Nature Reserve.”

Demolition of the observatory

On a more positive note, the nature reserve has attracted more than 9,500 visitors between January 1 and November 30 this year, surpassing the total figure for 2022.

And there is good news for the reserve as wind farm company Vattenfall has pledged £10,000 to support the site’s Environmental Education work in 2024.

Dr Nuttman said: “We are really happy about this. We have been talking to Vattenfall for the best part of this year and they have now confirmed they will support us and will be working with our community engagement officer.

How the education centre will look

“The money is linked to our renovation/repurposing of the old Thanet Observatory site and work is underway. This exciting project is on target for completion by April 1, 2024.”

The education centre, replacing the observatory, will be used to run sessions about clean energy and the work of Vattenfall on renewables.

8 Comments

  1. those repairs should be done by now , i have never seen anyone even working on it ! southern water already has a bad name – this wont help them , and i expect our bills will keep going up .

  2. It doesn’t help that the bus service along there was scrapped a year or two back (I haven’t been back since).

  3. Compensation for the loss of income should be paid by Southern Water, who are already playing havoc with the economy of Thanet by preventing visitors from accessing the sea because of constant sewage discharges, constant road works all over Thanet to repair leaks which have been disregarded for years, and now this botched road closure. Don’t pay out dividends Southern Water, repay the losses made by businesses and tourist attractions on the Isle of Thanet through their SW’s utter incompetence.

  4. Every morning I look that way . I’ve never seen a van or a workman . How long does it take to repair a pipe. Considering they have no traffic to deal will you would of thought would make this job easier.

  5. In the new year ramsgate road in Margate will be partially closed for a month due also to southern water, only a year since they caused chaos on the same road. K c c councillors are NOT allowed to intervene due to government regulations

Comments are closed.