A GROUP of business owners have blasted a set of long-running roadworks that are putting their customers in danger.

Gerry Bibbey, owner of Colemans Cottage Fishery, in Little Braxted Lane, Witham, said that since work began on Colemans Bridge in February, the business has lost between 30 and 40 per cent of its trade.

He said: “It has crippled us. We are losing customers all the time.

“People cannot be bothered to come down here. This has been going on for months and it is becoming ridiculous.

“The leaseholders of the café decided to leave partially because it was affecting their business so much.”

One regular user of the facility is Witham resident John Miller, 73, who uses a mobility scooter.

On Friday morning he had “the stuffing knocked out of him” when his vehicle nearly tipped over after getting stuck on a curb while he was crossing the nearby A12 slip road.

He said: “I usually come a couple of times a week but I have not been able to get here.

“I decided I was going to try and get here, but it has put me off what happened this morning.

“Luckily these two lads were there at the time. There is no access for disabled people.”

A diversion route via Rivenhall is in place, however Paul Chambers, owner of Colemans Bait and Tackle, says the signs for this have not been maintained.

He said: “I have notified the highways team of the diversion signs and they have failed to take action.

“Lorry drivers have been coming the wrong way down the slip road.

“We have had fisherman have accidents up the road. I believe somebody is going to be seriously hurt down there.

“There have already been so many accidents.”

Colemans Bridge has been shut since February when truck driver Gurdip Johal, 30, crashed through safety barriers and on to the carriageway. He died in the incident.

Highways England confirmed it passed responsibility to Essex Highways on May 5, after completing repair works to the bridge’s concrete, access steps and handrail, as well as replacing some beams on the structure.

An Essex Highways spokesman said: “There are still works needed to replace the crash barrier along the side of the road leading to and from the bridge, which is work we will complete as quickly as possible.”