Trade fears amid bridge work misery

Roadworks have started on Squires Gate Lane
Roadworks have started on Squires Gate Lane

The closure of a key road has prompted fears of a slump in pre-Christmas trade as well as peak-time traffic misery.

Drivers between St Annes and Blackpool have been left frustrated as Squires Gate Lane bridge shut this week for bridge improvement works set to last into the spring.

The 20-week project follows the ongoing emergency closure of nearby Harrowside bridge and has meant lengthy diversions and tailbacks at peak times.

Blackpool Council, which has organised the work, says it has scheduled it for this time to minimise disruption, but Bev Wood, chairman of the St Annes Enterprise Partnership, has questioned whether it could have been left until later – to avoid what she fears could be a seriously adverse effect on festive trade.

She said: “There is never a good time to do work on our roads but it might have had less impact on businesses as they gear up for the busiest period of the year to have timed the works for a January start.”

Driver Chris Belfield, of Kilnhouse Lane, St Annes, said: “Making thousands of people late for work, meetings and appointments really isn’t on.”

Mary Ivan, who has run the M and M sandwich shop on Squires Gate Lane for five years, said: “I have not noticed too much of a difference so far as I have a lot of loyal regular customers but the test will come when they maybe start ti get fed up of finding an alternative way to get to us.”

Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “It is essential this work is undertaken and it has been planned to follow the end of the illuminations to minimise disruption.

“However, we apologise for any delays which may be caused and thank residents and commuters for bearing with us while we improve Blackpool’s roads.”