Wirral business considers relocation as sea wall causes footfall to drop by 80%

The sea wall construction is impacting access to local businesses.

A business in West Kirby said it’s considering closing temporarily over the construction of a controversial sea wall.

Work on the project began in June 2022 and continued through the summer. It is expected to finish in November.

While many people visited the nearby Marine Lake on the August bank holiday, several businesses in the local area say it has had a negative impact on their trade.

Tanskeys Bistro, which has been running for 11 years, sits in the middle of South Parade opposite the construction work. Due to the works, the parade has become a one way street.

What have Tanskeys said?

Hannah Cleator, the manager, said: “The wall has been absolutely difficult for business. I am not totally against the development of the wall but it has cut off all our footfall.”

Mrs Cleator doesn’t oppose the development but says now construction has moved closer, it affects them daily.

She said: “I appreciate it would be hard to do it quietly but it looks dreadful and the whole floor vibrates while work is going on. Bottles have fallen from the shelves and glasses swing on their racks. Some stuff has broken but I am more concerned about the foundations of the building.”

Hannah Cleator says she may have to move over construction of a new seawall in West Kirby. Credit: Liverpool Echo/LDR

Mrs Cleator wants to see some sort of help from the council to see her through a difficult period: “We need some financial support as we are really going to struggle. I’m even considering closing temporarily until the work’s done. We’ve seen a drop of 80% throughout the summer. The roads are so congested that people are not bothering to make the trip to come to us.

“I’ve emailed the council. They just said they were willing to have a conversation about it but that still hasn’t happened. Everytime I email, someone is on holiday or they do not seem to have the time to have a conversation.”

Mrs Cleator rents the bistro’s current premises from Wirral Council and said it was ironic given how the construction is negatively affecting her business: “I am actually paying them for this. Local councillors also haven’t been in touch. You’re the first person who’s got in touch.”

What has the Council said?

A Wirral Council spokesperson said: “The local authority and contractors have been working with expert partners such as the Environment Agency to build a 1.1km flood barrier on South Parade in West Kirby to reduce the risk of flooding.

“We have tried hard to minimise the impact on local residents and businesses and visitors, and to work with those most affected to keep any effects from the construction, and the works timeline, to a minimum.

“The flood alleviation is a vital scheme which aims to protect local homes – and businesses – from flooding well into the next century.”

Some organisations have been relocated. The West Kirby RNLI now operates from the car park near the sailing club. Richard Diamond, West Kirby RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: “We have been in full consultation with the council throughout this whole process. We have no issues whatsoever.”

Tanskeys has been open for 11 years. Credit: Liverpool Echo/LDR

Businesses and residents claim the construction is having a wider impact. Toni Eccles, who runs the wig shop TopKnots on Grange Road, said construction has meant parking space in the town is limited.

She said he’s seen a 50 to 60% drop in business though he said rail and bus strikes will have contributed too.

She said: “For the wall to have been started after West Kirby businesses were closed for such a long time during the pandemic, they just haven’t managed or had a chance to get back on to their feet.”

Mrs Cleator remains more positive about the future once the work is done: “The summer months get us through the winter months. I cannot support everyone and everything forever but I do have faith that once the wall is built, we will get back to business.”