CHRISTCHURCH traders have suffered an ‘awful triple whammy’ as a result of flooding, road closures and gas works, according to the Chamber of Trade.

The statement was made by Christchurch chamber president, Peter Watson-Lee, as the start of 2014 ushered in chaos for already pressured tra-ders in the town centre.

Floods have closed major routes around the town including Stony Lane at Burton and Christchurch and the Avon Causeway, forcing people into the town centre causing major traffic jams.

And the re-start of gas works in the High Street means access is restricted on one side from Fountain Roundabout.

Mr Watson-Lee said: “The Christchurch High Street has suffered an awful ‘triple whammy’ as the year starts.

“The bad weather has kept people at home, the flooding – especially in Stony Lane – has temporarily cut off one of the ways into Christchurch and now the restart of the gas works has cut off access from the Fountain Roundabout down the High Street.

“However the sales are on, the town and car parks are all open and Christchurch is still well worth a visit.”

Long delays were caused earlier this week due to Southern Gas Networks’ temporary traffic lights on Barrack Road.

Motorists were stuck for more than two hours in Bournemouth Hospital car park, with queues backing up through Christchurch.

A spokesman for Southern Gas Networks said the work in the High Street should be completed by the end of January following a brief break in the £122,000 project over Christmas to allow the High Street to fully re-open for the festive period.

A spokesman said: “We are working closely with the local community to do everything we can to minimise disruption during our project.

“Our teams are working extended hours and the Monday market is continuing as normal throughout.

“We understand that people can get frustrated by roadworks.

“However, the new plastic pipe has a minimum lifespan of 80 years. This means that when the work is complete, people will continue to enjoy the benefits of a safe and reliable gas supply for years to come.”