Bank holiday weather misery predicted as floods leave economy under water

Forecasters predict snow and downpours in the coldest start to May in 70 years with grim effect on consumer spending

It was not meant to be like this. A bank holiday weekend with the mere hint of sun sees streams of motorists queuing to enter the Kentish harbour town of Whitstable. But yesterday afternoon the town's car parks were half empty as day trippers stayed away, opting not to brave the icy blasts whipping off the grey North Sea.

People were out walking around the town, but their hands were firmly in their pockets and their heads bowed against the wind. Few were spending money. Quaint cafes by the quayside waited for business; ice-cream kiosks where queues 30 deep have been known were devoid of customers. For many of the town's shopkeepers, dependent on the down-from-London brigade for their livelihoods, the bitter bank holiday weekend was a major setback after weeks of poor weather.
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