MP backs buffet owner in strike compensation quest

Nick Herbert with Carol Ritchie at her buffet in Angmering railway station
Nick Herbert with Carol Ritchie at her buffet in Angmering railway station

An MP has backed a railway buffet owner’s call for strike compensation.

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has given his backing to Carol Ritchie, who runs a buffet in Angmering railway station, in her quest to get compensation from Southern for the damage done to her business due to the rail strikes.

Mr Herbert visited Ritchie’s Buffet at Angmering Station on Thursday to sign the petition calling for rent relief during the rail disputes.

Carol Ritchie has run the popular cafe on the station platform for more than ten years, but industrial action has hit her business hard, forcing her to seek compensation from Southern in the form of a rent reduction.

Mr Herbert said he has had a frank conversation with Mrs Ritchie about the rail situation and the consequences of the strike action, agreeing that the service has been disrupted by a ‘work to rule’ on non-strike days as well as official industrial action.

Carol is fearful of losing her home and business as a result of her collapse in income, telling Mr Herbert that she has used up ten years’ worth of savings to stay afloat.

The MP signed Carol’s petition which is asking her landlords, Govia Thameslink Railway, to reduce her rent to make the impact of lost custom easier to manage.

Carol said: “If commuters on the trains can claim refunds, why can’t I be compensated for lost business?”

Mr Herbert told Carol that he would take the matter up on her behalf with GTR’s management.

He said: “Despite being in a desperate situation Carol remains cheery and clearly value her relationship with her customers. I’ve used her café on a number of occasions and I know how popular it is with the public.

“I think it’s appalling that small businesses like this one have been so harmed by the rail unions’ completely unjustifiable action. Their members weren’t facing any job losses or reductions of pay, but they’ve selfishly inflicted hardship on people like Carol and misery for commuters.

“The unions are immune from any legal action, but I think GTR should do the right thing and help Carol with a rent reduction.”

Govia Thameslink Railway has been approached for comment.

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