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Maidstone sinkhole to cost Taj Barming restaurant £200k


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A restaurant boss fears a huge sinkhole which opened up on his doorstep earlier this year could end up costing him £200,000 in lost revenue.

The chasm on Tonbridge Road, Barming, opened up in May and the road has been closed ever since while Kent County Council carries out major work to stabilise it.

KCC announced the road would not re-open until October 20 - almost five months after the sinkhole first emerged, and several weeks after bosses initially hoped.

The sinkhole on the A26 Tonbridge Road, Maidstone, near the junction of Fountain Lane outside the Taj Barming restaurant. Picture: Andy Payton
The sinkhole on the A26 Tonbridge Road, Maidstone, near the junction of Fountain Lane outside the Taj Barming restaurant. Picture: Andy Payton

Kiron Haque, owner of Taj Barming, which overlooks the void, admits he has had to borrow money from family members to help keep his restaurant afloat while the works are being carried out.

He said: “I’m losing about £40,000 a month in revenue, which for a business like mine puts me under a big financial stress.

“There’s been a lot of support but people are finding it so difficult to reach us because of the diversions.

“One customer lives in Bearsted and they usually come down Tonbridge Road and turn right into the car park.

Restaurant owner Kiron Haque
Restaurant owner Kiron Haque

"But one night it took them an hour, because they were following the diversions and somehow ended up in town - I had to stay on the phone and direct them into the car park using a map.

“We’ve had other customers who’ve made a reservation and phoned to say they tried to get to us but the diversions just had them going in circles.”

Mr Haque employs 11 staff who have all remained with the business despite alternative job offers from rivals.

“I can’t lay them off because of the staff shortages in the industry," he said.

"A lot of them have been approached by other restaurants because they look at us and think we’re going to shut down imminently, but they’ve shown their loyalty to me and I’m grateful for that.

“I’m trying my utmost not to close down.”

A provisional date has been announced for the re-opening of a road blighted by a sinkhole for the past three months.

“We’ve had other customers who’ve made a reservation and phoned to say they tried to get to us but the diversions just had them going in circles...” - Kiron Haque, Taj Barming

The sinkhole on Tonbridge Road, Barming, opened up on May 28 and the road has been closed ever since while Kent County Council carry out major work to stabilise it.

KCC has now announced the road is set to be re-opened on October 20 – a full five months since the chasm opened.

A spokesman said: “Following the completion and demobilisation of the compaction grouting works last week our activities are now focused on the ground preparations for the sewer replacement.

“To make use of the resources currently on site KCC will be undertaking this ground preparation to avoid unnecessary delay in handing over this operation to Southern Water.

“Instead we will be undertaking as much of this activity as possible, including digging and supporting the trench using our equipment on site to allow Southern Water to reinstate and seal their sewer as soon as we have completed the ground work for them.

“We now have a programme of works which is detailed below and should now provide a timeframe for when the road will be re-open.”

Four weeks of work will be dedicated to the reinstatement of the sewer before South East Water and other utilities companies will be given time to carry out their necessary repairs.

The spokesman added: “It should be noted that a significant number of milestones remain and the completion timescales below are dependent on a number of factors going forward. The intention at this stage is to provide some measure of assurance on when the road will be reopen and community life returned to normal.

“The programme below is based on full seven-day-a-week working (day works) and synchronised activities undertaken concurrently where space and safety allows on the site.

“To summarise the vast majority of the works will be completed in a 4 week period following the reinstatement of the sewer, which is the final hurdle prior to reconstructing the road.

“We will make every effort to shorten this period as far as possible but we are dependent on others in this regard to complete their activities as quickly as possible.”

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