Cafe owner “livid” with Northampton Borough Council due to Abington Street roadworks “crippling” her business

Kylie Crane and volunteer, Lisa, outside Roobarb & Kustard
Kylie Crane and volunteer, Lisa, outside Roobarb & Kustard

The owner of a cafe in Northampton centre has blamed the noise and disruption of the ongoing work to open up Abington Street to traffic for a drop in trade that has resulted in her deciding to close the business.

Kylie Crane, who owns Roobarb & Custard Ceramics Cafe in Wellington Street, said the roadworks had decreased her takings by 40 per cent as many people had been cancelling bookings in the past couple of months.

Baby footprinting at Roobarb & Kustard

Baby footprinting at Roobarb & Kustard

Roobarb & Kustard opened in 2008 and offers customers, as well as individuals and groups, the opportunity to design their own ceramic creations, whilst enjoying drinks and fresh food from the instore cafe.

Mrs Crane, said: “It can only be because of the roadworks. My takings have almost halved since they started in June, with people cancelling bookings and commenting on the noise and dust, which is awful.

“I am disgusted and livid at how the council have taken no responsibility. These are people’s livelihoods they are damaging and this will be another independent business that has had to close.

“We were originally told that the Abington Street works wouldn’t stretch up Wellington Street, so I was quite shocked when they started on June 23. Then the project manager told me they would only be here for three weeks and that was two months ago. Nobody at the borough council can tell me what’s happening or give me a date for when they will finish.”

The business owner said access to the front of the shop was completely closed off this week, meaning it can only be entered through the premise next door, which is used by other businesses.

Mother-of-two, Mrs Crane, aged 38, said: “I almost cried when I couldn’t access my own shop with my stock and had to get a builder to open the barrier for me.

“My volunteers and I have poured blood, sweat and tears into this place. We fought to survive the recession but this has just finished me off and, after six years, I have no choice but to close.”

Mrs Krane said Roobarb & Kustard will close on Saturday, September 13, when control will be transferred back to leaseholders, Roses Drapery Stores.

A spokesman for the council said the local authority had been working with Miss Krane to support the Roobarb & Kustard Café during the roadworks.

The spokesman said: “We have put up signs and notices to promote the businesses in Wellington Street, provided free parking and assisted Roobarb & Kustard in applying for a reduction in Business Rates for the duration of the works.

“In a few weeks the reopening of Abington Street will revitalise the area as we bring more shoppers and visitors into that part of our town centre. There will be new opportunities for businesses and more potential customers as footfall increases. We will of course be talking to businesses like the Roobarb & Kustard Café about what we can do to help them make the most of these exciting new opportunities.”

Mrs Crane said she plans to try and keep the business going by setting up mobile shops at nurseries and organisations, and visiting customers’ houses to do baby clay casts and prints sessions.