Hundreds sign petition for Network Rail to pay compensation to businesses over Botley Road closure

  • Business owners have been speaking to ITV News Meridian's Natalie Verney about the impact of the road closure.

Network Rail is facing growing pressure to help companies struggling due to the temporary closure of Botley Road in Oxford.A petition has been set up by a local resident asking the company to provide them with compensation.

In less than a week, it has been signed by nearly 400 people.The road was closed in April as part of a £161 million scheme to expand Oxford Railway Station and is not due to reopen until October 2024.

Botley Road will reopen next year but Hera is unsure her business will still be around by then. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Business owner Hera Rahnamay, who is the co-owner of Hera Salon with her husband, says they were unable to pay their rent this month.

Client numbers have fallen by 60% since Botley Road closed and they are now pleading for support from Network Rail.

Mrs Rahnamay said: "Me and my husband have tried many times to email them and call them. Nobody has responded until now. They just said to check the website."

The salon has had to let go of three staff members to try and survive. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Local resident Julian Le Vay says it is a similar story across many nearby businesses.

Worried for their future, he's started a petition to try and get Network Rail to provide financial support.

He told ITV News Meridian: "It's become more and more difficult for businesses to cling on. We think three or four of them are in danger of going under.

"So we're asking that the government provide temporary financial support to keep these businesses going temporarily as they did during COVID.

"They're part of our community. We know them, we shop there, we know the people that run them. We just think it's wrong that they should disappear because of this project."

Business owner Ted Sandbach says he gave up seeking compensation long ago. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Owner of Oxford Wine Company Ted Sandbach said footfall is down 10% since the closure.

He said: "I do back that petition because some people have been very badly affected and we have been to an extent.

"I did contact the council early on about this, but had a very little response - saying 'it's not our problem, it's Network Rail'. Then you go to Network Rail and no one ever returns a call, so, where do you start?"

Network Rail says while it encourages local businesses who are being affected to contact them and that it is already speaking to some to see what can be done to mitigate their problems.

The firm added it has no legal obligation to pay them compensation.

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