Coffee house boss's fury as business fenced-off after workers rupture water pipe

A coffee house boss says he is being fenced off from his customers as council bosses lay a new power supply to a landmark building.

Alderman's Coffee shop owner Ewen Murray
Alderman's Coffee shop owner Ewen Murray

Ewen Murray, owner of Alderman’s in Market Square, South Shields, has seen his business stranded behind a seven-foot fence for four weeks because of work needed on The Word – the town’s new library and digital hub.

The building is the centrepiece of the town’s £100million regeneration project to improve the town’s prosperity, but delays in laying a new power cable mean Mr Murray has had to cut his employees’ hours because of a fall in profits.

Alderman's Coffee shop owner Ewen Murray

Workers have dug up the pavement directly outside his business.

He says he was told the work would last two weeks but – four weeks on – he claims the project is having a knock on effect on his business.

Mr Murray, who has owned the coffee shop for the last nine years, said: “They came along and dug up the pavement to replace an electrical cable but a water pipe ended up being damaged.

“I’ve now had safety fencing outside the coffee shop for the four weeks, which has stopped us from putting out our chairs and tables.

Alderman's Coffee shop owner Ewen Murray

“What they’ve done to the market place is great and we understand there was going to be some disruption. It is the fact that no one could tell us when work was going to start or when it was going to be completed – it was like no-one cared.

“This has had such a huge impact on our trade. It’s so frustrating, and has led to staff hours being cut as a result of all this disruption.

“Within hours of us contacting the Gazette, we had someone come in to let us know that they now have a date.

“We do have some very loyal customers who have supported us throughout all this, but you can’t take people’s loyalty for granted and when people are asking when we will be putting our chairs and tables outside, and we can’t give them an answer then they will end up going somewhere else.

A council spokesman said: “Northern Power Grid and Northumbrian Water have been involved in complex and technical works on our behalf to provide utilities to The Word.

“Unfortunately, they have encountered some problems which could not have been foreseen which has resulted in a delay. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and are in discussions with Northern Power Grid and Northumbrian Water to get this matter resolved as quickly as possible.”