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Delay on Beaminster Tunnel re-opening could force superstar chef elsewhere
7:29pm Tuesday 26th February 2013 in News
THE delay in re-opening Beaminster Tunnel could force Masterchef Mat Follas to pull his Wild Garlic restaurant out of the town.
Dorset County Council announ-ced a possible five-week delay to the scheduled May re-opening – blaming the high demand for geotechnical engineers following increased landslips throughout the country.
It also said complex negotiations with four landowners were still ongoing.
Mat Follas blasted the council for its failure to ensure experts were in place and also warned the delay could see the demise of his restaurant.
He said: “My old job was a project manager and when you put together a project you put in allowances and you ensure all the trades are lined up to come and do their work with penalties if they don’t.
“If I didn’t do that I’d either be sacked or have to pay some sort of penalty. The reason I am angry is that doesn’t apply to the council.
“They are running anything between three and six weeks late, which means anybody looking to holiday in Beaminster over the summer is probably not going to come – which means that more businesses won’t be there next year and it is highly possible that we won’t be there either.
“I am not sure we can survive another summer like we had last year. I am hugely frustrated.
“I am in the middle of renewing our lease and it is a significant consideration whether or not we renew it.”
Nigel Reeve, spokesman for Beaminster’s Chamber of Trade, said it was astonishing that the tunnel would not re-open nearly a year after it shut.
He said: “It really is astonishing. There are a number of business that rely on the summer trade.
“It really is shocking that it is taking this long to get it sorted.”
“We can’t rush the re-opening but I still fail to see to how it can take a year to get the tunnel safely open.”
Councillor Peter Finney, Dorset County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation said: “We know this is devastating news for the community and it is certainly not what we had foreseen happening.
“The design process is complex and does take time.”
The £2.1million project is being funded by Dorset County Council.