THE condition and future of a perilous pub wall has left several Penzance business-owners in "a nightmare situation".
Scaffolding went up before Christmas along the side wall of the Star Inn down the pedestrian alley at the top of New Street because of the dangerous condition of the bulging wall.
Initially, after a few days' total closure, pedestrians were able to walk down the alleyway from Market Jew Street but, since February 21, this has been blocked off completely due to the deteriorating condition of the wall – resulting in a detour of several hundred yards round to the top of Chapel Street if you want to get to Harris's, Mackerel Sky, Marita's Hair & Beauty, The Exchange or The Cycle Centre.
Roger Harris, owner of the long-established restaurant, said that although it has now been ten weeks since the scaffolding went up, neither the owners of the Star, Star Pubs and Bars, part of the giant Heineken group, nor Cornwall Council have communicated how they intend to proceed.
"It's left us in a nightmare situation. No one has come up with a schedule of work or any timescale of when things will be done," he said.
"The only people who do talk to us are scaffolders (Chris Sedgeman Ltd) who have been fantastic and are doing all they can to make sure we have access. They were told to put their scaffolding against our wall and the wall of Peasgoods but Star Pubs & Bars did not even ask our permission."
James McClaine, owner of Mackerel Sky, says he has seen a 50-60 per cent drop off in trade and believes the problems will only get worse.
"We're in this situation that when work starts, we will be getting lorries backing up right outside our cafe and chutes coming off the scaffolding to take away tonnes and tonnes of rubble and heavy granite blocks," he said.
"There's going to be a significant amount of dust, noise and disruption as well as a health and safety issue."
Another to feel the effects of the ongoing blockade is Marita Gorgone, owner of Marita's Hair and Beauty who says that the number of male customers in particular has dropped off dramatically.
A spokesman for Star Pubs and Bars said: "As agreed with the council, scaffolding was erected to secure the wall, and until now a passageway has enabled access to nearby properties.
"Unfortunately, after the prolonged bad weather, the condition of the wall has now deteriorated and the local council has closed the passageway temporarily to allow us to further support the wall and rectify the problem.
"As The Star Inn is a listed building the work requires approval from the local council. Once this has been received we will commence and complete the work as quickly as possible. We have appointed the contractors and hope that this can begin on Monday."
"We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this situation is causing to the local community."