A SMALL business owner claims to have suffered financial loss of up to 85 percent due to roadworks outside shops in Pokesdown.

A stretch of Christchurch Road is now being operated by temporary lights to manage heavy traffic while SGN engineers upgrade the gas network.

The work is expected to take place for 14 weeks and finish on December 13.

There is concern amongst high street traders who say their sales have dropped since work began on September 16.

Matt Betteridge, owner of Bournemouth Pies, said: “Ever since the roadworks started my shop sales have fallen by 85 percent.”

“I was bringing in around £900 a week but last week I only had £250.

“I sell good pies and I love what I do, but If no one can access the shop, there is a chance we might not be here by the time the roadworks finish.”.

Matt’s worries are shared with Adam Phillips who runs the Boscombe East Post Office., just beyond where the gas works currently are.

Adam told the Echo: “It has been awful; I think last week we were down £800.”

“What’s killed it is the early morning trade. We normally have builders stopping off, but they are finding other routes to avoid the roadworks.

“There is just no passing trade.”

Motor-Vation Garage owner, Gary Alcroft, says he understands the gas work is important but has been impacted as ‘road closed’ signs and barriers are confusing his customers.

Gary said: “I have mixed feelings about it as I know it is essential gas work that needs to be done, but four months is a long time. Why can’t they work in the evenings or on the weekends?

“Summer is not a good time for motor trade and now we have to deal with this. Normally September is the time we make up for it.”

Cllr Andy Jones, representing Boscombe East and Pokesdown Ward, has been alerted to the issue.

He said: “I spoke to one of the businesses on Saturday regarding this situation and they are really struggling with loss of trade with motorists avoiding the area due to the increased congestion. He also stated that many other traders are feeling the pinch and we are only a week into the works.

“14 weeks of roadworks leading up to Christmas is totally unacceptable - businesses already find it hard enough to survive along the high street without this.”

Cllr Jones passed on his concerns to Cllr Andy Hadley, Portfolio Holder for Transport at BCP, who has contacted the SGN for answers to the problem.

SGN spokesperson, Waseem Hanif, said in a statement: “We’re upgrading our gas network in Christchurch Road in Boscombe to ensure local homes and businesses continue to enjoy a safe and reliable gas supply for many years to come.

“We’re replacing our existing metal gas mains with new plastic pipe as part of an ongoing programme of essential work developed with the Health and Safety Executive.

“Following close consultation with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, our project started on Monday 16 September and will last approximately 13 weeks.

“For everyone’s safety, temporary traffic lights are in place in Christchurch Road. The lights are being manually controlled between 7am and 7pm to help minimise inconvenience as much as possible.

“As our work progresses we’ll move our traffic lights south west along Christchurch Road. As the lights move, we’ll be closing nearby junctions with Christchurch Road to help maintain traffic flow along Christchurch Road. Here are the roads which will be closed at their junctions with Christchurch Road:

“Hannington Road and Rosebery Road will be closed between now and Friday 4 October, Queensland Road and Warwick Road will be closed between Friday 4 October and Friday 25 October, Somerset Road and Parkwood Road will be closed between Friday 25 October and Saturday 16 November and Gloucester Road will be closed between Saturday 16 November and Friday 13 December.

“All businesses in the local area will remain open as usual. Local small businesses which suffer a genuine loss of trade because of our work may qualify for our compensation scheme. Packs are available from our website, sgn.co.uk, via the Publications section.

“We’ll continue to liaise with local businesses and residents over the coming months to ensure we limit the disruption to the local community during this essential work.

“We’re also working six days a week to ensure we complete this work as quickly and safely as possible.”