THE FLOODING crisis has cost Oxford businesses “tens of millions of pounds”, says the leader of the city council.
As Botley Road reopened yesterday, Bob Price said the floods that struck the county last week had been a “disaster” for businesses.
The Labour city councillor said: “If you take it all into account, I’d say the city has lost tens of millions of pounds.
“About a quarter or half of people who would have normally come into Oxford have not, which has had a significant effect on major businesses.
“It’s been a disaster for many individual families, but also for traders where the loss of revenue is a disaster for their livelihood.”
President of Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce Bob Bradley added: “It’s obviously had a major impact – it’s a terrible blow for businesses.”
The traders’ spokesman said firms would now have to “sell hard” to make up any losses.
“Hopefully they will have enough money left over from the busy Christmas period, which will help them recover,” he said. “It’s a difficult situation for any businessperson.”
Graham Jones, of traders’ group ROX, said: “Overall, it’s been devastating with Abingdon Road and Botley Road closed.”
The usually busy Abingdon Road has been closed since Monday night, which has made life difficult for shops. Manager of Fat Phil’s Angling shop, Wayne Gray, said: “We’ve had few customers because there’s nowhere for anyone to fish. We have lost thousands of pounds already, so I hope the flood water recedes this week.”
However the fishing shop did make some cash after selling more than 20 pairs of waders last week.
The closure of Abingdon Road and Botley Road hit traders hard in the city centre, including businesses in the Covered Market.
Gavin Emberton, a butcher at Hedges, said: “It’s been terrible. There have been people on stalls going home early because there were no customers. Trade has been cut by more than half and we’ve often just been standing around.
“We’ve lost a few hundred pounds because of the floods.”
Manager of Nash’s Oxford Bakery Penny Allan said: “It’s been a disaster and trade has been significantly quieter.
“Saturday was the quietest I’d seen the Covered Market in a long time.”
Bryan Wiltshire, assistant manager at David John Butchers, said: “We normally have queues out of the door.
“We had about half our usual takings last week.”
'Do not ignore second wave of floods on the way'
RAIN which could cause more flooding is expected in Oxford today, tomorrow and for most of Wednesday.
People living by the Thames in the city have been warned to remain aware of further swelling rivers fed by rainfall.
Abingdon Road remained closed last night, with highways authority Oxfordshire County Council offering no estimate of when it could reopen.
The River Thames from Wolvercote to South Oxfordshire remained on flood warning, meaning flooding is expected and people should be prepared.
Environment Agency (EA) flood risk manager Alison Baptiste said: “We want to stress that the risk of further flooding has not passed and they should remain vigilant.
“River levels are starting to drop a little in some places, but they are still very high along the Thames.”
She said EA teams continued to work around the clock monitoring river levels, clearing watercourses, and working with communities to make them aware of their flood risk.
The agency also reminded people last night that fast-flowing water 15cm deep can knock an adult off their feet.
According to the Met Office, rain is forecast for this afternoon and tomorrow evening in Oxford, with heavy rain predicted for Wednesday morning and light rain until 6pm.
More rain is expected on Thursday.
Oxfordshire County Council said it had reports of drivers moving road closure signs on Abingdon Road and driving through water, potentially causing more damage to nearby homes.
Deputy council leader Rodney Rose said: “We would ask people do not remove or tamper with closure signs.
“They are there for a reason and they should be obeyed. We advise motorists to take extra care and, if in any doubt, not to drive through flood water.
“We give advice of this nature not just with the safety of motorists in mind — it is also a question of not creating bow waves affecting nearby properties.”
Restrictions which normally stop drivers using High Street during the daytime, lifted during the past week, will be back in force from today, from 7.30am to 6.30pm.
For a full list of road closures and homes at risk, go to oxfordshire.gov.uk
For advice, visit environment-agency.gov. uk/ and from Floodline on 0845 988 1188. Find up-to-date information on Twitter @EnvAgencySE or follow #floodaware.
Driver rescued as his car is submerged
A MAN was rescued from a car trapped on a flooded road near Witney.
Fire crews were called to Great Brook in Chimney at 9.20pm on Friday.
Fire engines from Bampton, Witney, Abingdon and the specialist rescue team from Kidlington attended and found the car in several feet of water.
Firefighters used an inflatable rescue sled to open the car and take the driver to safety. The driver was assessed and treated for shock by ambulance staff but was not seriously hurt.
Station manager Mike Adcock, of Oxfordshire Fire Service, said: “People should avoid the obvious risks of driving through flood water.
“Six inches of water is enough to cause the loss of control of a vehicle, or possible stalling, as water enters the exhaust.
“If you cannot gauge the depth of the water do not risk trying to drive through as the consequences can be both dangerous and costly. If in any doubt, turn around and find another way.”
Fearless dog drowns
A WELL-KNOWN cheese manufacturer and cafe owner has lost his Springador dog in the flooding.
William Pouget, who owns Vaults & Garden cafe in Radcliffe Square, Alpha bar in the Covered Market, and Oxford’s Cooking in the Woodstock Road, lost his dog Jasper in the floods near Redbridge.
He said: “Jasper was off the lead as there was no traffic and ran into the river next to Go Outdoors next to Redbridge.
“He tried to grab a stick floating down river and was caught in the very strong current and was pulled under. He was a very strong swimmer and quite fearless.
“Dogs should be kept on leads and under control around floods.”