MORE businesses have spoken out about the devastating impact roadworks in Diggle to build the new Saddleworth School are having on trade.

Elaine Mills runs Waste not, want not at Wharf Mill, Diggle. She lives in the village and set up the business on retirement as an art teacher.

“It was a long-held desire of mine to go into antiques, collectibles and retro-vintage goods,” she said.

“When the opportunity arose I opened the shop after the first lockdown and did really well. Unfortunately, two more lockdowns came along.”

She added: “Since opening again I had a couple of good weeks then the road closure came and I have had very little footfall as I am a non-essential shop again. My takings have depleted to nothing on some days or between £2 and £3 in a week. Surviving is not on the cards at this rate as people are not taking the time or inclination to drive so out of the way.”

A fitness business in Diggle, meanwhile, said road diversions had created a “barrier” between businesses and customers.

Currently, drivers have to make a 4.2-mile diversion to reach the village, and Kiss Fitness Centre’s Steve and Chris Kiss, said: “We opened the HIIT Station in Delph, our classes-only facility. It is the only thing keeping us afloat with the road closure/diversion in Diggle.

“Since the one way started we have lost multiple members because of the added travel time following the huge diversion route which is about eight minutes extra if you don’t get caught at the temporary traffic lights.

“The worrying thing is how many members wanted to sign up but haven’t due to the added travel time. We don’t rely on passing trade for memberships, we get most members from online marketing.

“The diversion has put a literal barrier between businesses and customers. Leisure and hospitality are two of the hardest-hit sectors in this pandemic and to not do everything in the council’s power to give people access to Diggle via cut-through roads such as Spurn Lane and Carr Lane is a huge injustice.

“A one-way system and clear speed limit signs would be sufficient to make the roads safe for both cars and pedestrians. The greatest need and risk at the moment comes from the businesses of Diggle and they should be accommodated.”

Cllr Amanda Chadderton, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “This is a complex infrastructure project which due to its size and scale has required our highway engineers to implement this diversion.

“We want to reassure residents and businesses the traffic team looked at all options in terms of route design and this is the most viable option to ensure these important works can progress as quickly as possible while ensuring the safety of everyone including motorists, residents and workers on site.

“We are happy to bring residents and businesses to site so we can explain what we are doing and answer questions. If you are interested email and we will be in touch,” she added.