Flooding closes the A1101 at Welney Washes for the first time in two years

Bank Holiday weekend trade hit at village pub The Lamb and Flag

The road across Welney Washes has been closed because of flooding - for the first time in two years.

The stretch of road between Welney and Littleport usually closes during the winter months when the flood plain spills over. But the last two dry winters have seen it remain open throughout.

Now the wettest April on record has seen unusually high water levels for the time of year come across the road, known as the Causeway, and the Environment Agency has shut it.

Village pub landlord Dennis Birch said he had already received cancellations from customers because of the 40-mile detour.

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'We have had a couple of people call already to say they won't be coming in for Sunday lunch. It is late for the road to close, but it has been later than this before,' he said.

The Lamb and Flag is the only pub in the village and relies heavily on passing trade.

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'We are now cut-off from two of the biggest tourist attractions in the eastern region - the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust reserve at Welney and Ely Cathedral. We get a lot of trade and could do without this,' added Mr Birch.

The barriers are down on the road but some traffic has been ignoring them and going through. The water was reported to be no more than six inches deep at one point.

Mr Birch said at its worst, the Washes were closed from October 2006 to March 2007 - a spell which saw his business turnover fall by �100,000.

'We tried to claim on our insurance for a business interruption and asked West Norfolk Council for a rate rebate because we couldn't trade. We had a letter from each of them arrive on the same day - one saying the incidents were too irregular to claim, and the other saying the flooding was not often enough to warrant financial help. What can you do? Hopefully it won't last long,' he said.

The Environment Agency confirmed it had closed the road because of the amount of rainfall in recent weeks. A spokesman said it was not clear how long the road would remain shut for.

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