A BUSINESS owner has warned he will be “finished” if a three-month set of roadworks go ahead without support or compensation.

Bargates in Christchurch town centre is set to be shut off in one direction later this month to repair a collapsed sewer.

On Thursday, December 30, Wessex Water said the road would be closed in both directions. However, on the afternoon of Friday, December 31, the company said it would in fact only be shut one way, with traffic unable to travel into the town centre via Bargates from Fairmile. A diversion will be in place via Stour Road and Barrack Road. Vehicles will be able to travel in the opposite direction in Bargates from Fountain Roundabout heading away from the town centre.

The closure is due to be in force from January 25 until April 22.

Having experienced issues from a short period of emergency works several weeks ago, traders in Bargates have voiced their fears at the extended partial road closure.

Bournemouth Echo: Wessex Water overground pipes currently in placeWessex Water overground pipes currently in place

Gary Adams, owner of Castles Home Hardware, said: “I told them if they are going to shut it for three months they will effectively bankrupt me. We will be finished and that is how stressful it is.

“All year we have been recovering from when SSE were doing work in the road in September 2020. They said it was going to be seven days and it was seven weeks. We lost so much money.

“It took us until summer to balance out and then we had a pretty bad September and October, naturally, and then they shut it in late November and early December and I lost £8,000. We get it is an emergency but the impact it has on Christchurch, they don’t understand how it works.”

Mr Adams said Wessex Water should have visited businesses and called on them to hold a meeting so all views could be aired and the company could respond with their mitigation. He said the utility firm should be compensating Bargates businesses.

“Bargates is the main vein coming into Christchurch along with the A35,” said Mr Adams.

“You shut one leg of it off, even one lane, the impact is catastrophic.

“It won’t just affect me for the three months. It will affect me for five or six months as people will migrate and go somewhere else.”

Wessex Water carried out emergency work in the area several weeks ago, with temporary overland pipes installed until the permanent fix is carried out.

Bournemouth Echo: Christchurch Carpets is an established business in BargatesChristchurch Carpets is an established business in Bargates

Staff at Christchurch Carpets voiced similar concerns and called for signs to remind motorists that businesses were still open.

Southern Domestic Appliances has traded from their Bargates premises for more than 10 years. Owner Jason Hemmings said: “It is going to hit financially with footfall really affected.

“We do a lot of field repairs so it will make it more difficult with coming and going.

Bournemouth Echo: Southern Domestic Appliances in BargatesSouthern Domestic Appliances in Bargates

“Longer term it will hit consumer confidence. People will not come here as much and maybe never come back again. Over the past few years there has been numerous utilities work in the road. One will finish and then another will start.

“There has been a lack of communication. We feel totally disregarded.

“We know it is so wrong but we are small businesses. It is like we are getting bullied into shut up and put up with it.”

A Wessex Water spokesman said: “We understand the concern and frustration raised by local businesses, but due to the location and depth of the sewer it simply isn’t possible to carry out the repairs without the partial road closure.

“Despite the road being closed to through traffic in one direction, we will be able to help facilitate with deliveries. There is also a relatively short diversion in place to bypass the partial road closure. Early in the new year we’ll happily speak to any businessowners that have specific issues and we’ll look to see if there is anything we can do to help.”