Flooding wrecks family business in Dorset

DEVASTATED: Matt Cook at Hanging Gardens Nursery

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: The Gurkha restaurant

MANAGER: Dhan Gurung

First published in News Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

THE lives of an elderly couple have been ‘ruined’ after floods devastated their business for the fifth time this year.

Hanging Gardens Nursery in Winfrith was swamped when heavy downpours lashed the county.

Owner Frances Cook told in yesterday’s Echo how it was the worst they had seen it and the damage would take months to repair.

But Mrs Cook’s son Matt now says he doesn’t know how his elderly parents are going to cope.

His father, who is very ill and in his 60s, was devastated when he learned from his hospital bed what had happened.

Mr Cook said that flooding occurs in heavy downpours because of water run-off from farmland opposite, which flows across the A352 and onto the nursery.

Cars on the A352 push more water onto the nursery and Mr Cook called for the farmland owners, highways bosses and Dorset County Council to act.

It comes as the Met Office issued a warning that more downpours are on the way throughout the weekend and on Christmas Eve.

Mr Cook added: “The first time we flooded in July, we kind of had to think: ‘That’s life’ and cope with it.

“But we have asked for help – and so the second, third, fourth and now fifth time is unacceptable.

“Last time it happened my parents had to be rescued.

“And now my dad has to come out of hospital and see this, at Christmas.

“My parents are elderly, their business is ruined.

“And we’ve got three more days of heavy rain to deal with now.

“If we’d have got the help we needed in July, we wouldn’t have got to where we are now.”

Nick Kelly, the estate property manager for Lulworth Estate, which owns the farmland opposite the nursery said: “We have been in consultation with Dorset County Council to find a resolution.

“Though it must be appreciated firstly, there are extreme weather conditions and secondly there is no obligation on the owner or the occupier of the land to take measures where the water is a result of field run-off when it rains.

“Powers do exist for the county council to take action if they wish to do so.

“We have spoken both to the tenants and county council acting in a spirit of goodwill to see if some resolution can be achieved.”

Dorset County Council highways operations manager Mike Westwood said: “We are aware of the issue and are doing all we can to help.

“Unfortunately, the business is suffering from excessive run-off water from neighbouring fields.”

Deluge does not stop the Gurkha

A RESTAURANT next to Weymouth’s Radipole Lake where water levels rose after heavy rain escaped the flooding and remains open for business.

The Gurkha restaurant at the Swannery continues to welcome diners even though rising waters on Thursday prompted an emergency response involving firefighters pumping water from the lake into the inner harbour.

Borough council workers had also worked through the day draining water from the lake using the sluice gates at Westham Bridge.

Initial reports from the fire service suggested a local restaurant had flooded and it was reported in the Echo that the Gurkha had been hit.

But manager Dhan Gurung said although there was water around the front of the building, no floodwater had entered the premises and a high-level side access allows customers to get in safely.

More than 100 people enjoyed meals there on Thursday night following the heavy rain.

Mr Gurung said the only time the restaurant had flooded in its nine years of operation was in July this year when west Dorset was hit by a major deluge, forcing the business to close and undergo refurbishment.

He stressed the business had not closed this time and urged customers who had cancelled to rethink their plans.

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