French chef gets taste of a blockade

THE CELEBRATED French chef Michel Roux is receiving a small taste of the medicine that his compatriots have inflicted on British motorists. Mr Roux is locked in dispute with his English neighbours who, he claims, have repeatedly blocked the road leading to his restaurant on the banks of the Thames in Berkshire.

Passions over the parking row reached such heights this week that both parties called in Maidenhead police on consecutive nights. Officers were powerless to act because the road is private, but one inspector has offered to mediate between them next week.

Mr Roux, who has a 50-space car park at the Waterside Inn in Bray, said yesterday that the Uptons, a neighbouring family, had obstructed the gravel road night after night for the past few weeks.

'The problem is that they have three cars and a boat,' he said. 'One or two of the vehicles was always on the road, preventing people getting past. My valet was constantly over there asking them to move the cars. It is just a petty dispute and it seems to be over now.'

On Tuesday night, it was the turn of the Uptons to call the police. Catherine Upton said that both her son and daughter had been forced to take taxis to work that day because their cars had been hemmed in by vehicles belonging to Mr Roux and his wife.

'It was like a French blockade,' Mrs Upton said. 'There is no way that we are interfering with their business. The problem is that since the restaurant became a hotel, the traffic congestion around here has been terrible.'

Mr Roux said: 'I hope we can return to sanity now. I have been here for 20 years and I get on well with my other neighbours. I always cook pancakes at the village fete.'