BUSINESS owners say they have been left fearing for their livelihoods as a result of roadworks outside their premises.

A five-week long series of improvements to a busy junction in Hartlepool have angered local business owners, who believe customers will be put off visiting them.

However, Hartlepool Borough Council has stressed that customers can still get to their businesses and the work will eventually improve access and will be completed a week earlier than anticipated.

The junction of Elwick Road and Catcote Road will be closed to traffic for a total of five weeks as part of the £100,000 Tees Valley Bus Improvements Scheme.

Paul Turnbull, owner of Coinote Services, a coin and banknote dealer based on Elwick Road, said he had not been consulted by the council over plans to carry out improvements.

He said: “I didn’t know anything until a sign appeared at the top of the road to say it would be shut for six to eight weeks. 

"I understand the council have to do road improvements but why do they have to shut the whole road. People are going to be put off coming to my business because of diversions, they go out of their way to avoid them.”

He added that a previous closure of the road had had a detrimental effect on his business.

Michael Moore, owner of nearby Chequered Flag, said: “Years ago they worked on the whole road and it nearly shut us down, it was that quiet.”

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “We would apologise once again for any inconvenience which these two projects may cause but once completed, both will considerably reduce congestion in the area and improve traffic flow, which in turn should improve access to the local businesses.

“We should also stress that while the two projects are being carried out, there will still be access to Elwick Road from both ends via diversions.

"We are also anticipating that this temporary Elwick Road/Catcote Road junction closure will last only another three weeks instead of a further four weeks as was originally anticipated.  

"In the case of both projects, pedestrian access will also be maintained. Both projects have been publicised in advance in the local media to make people aware of them.”