Restricted access during a period of roadworks in Greenisland has caused serious disruption for businesses, a local retailer has claimed.
NI Water commenced a programme to replace water mains in the area at the end of February.
It was expected that the scheme would take between six and eight weeks to complete.
David McKee owns a butcher’s and coffee shop at Glassillan Court - an area he says was essentially “cut off” due to a road closure between the train station and Knockfergus Park.
“The Water Board [NI Water] told us that the work would be done in four two-week periods, but in the first four weeks of the work my trade was halved,” Mr McKee told the Times.
“I have a big customer catchment area in Farm Lodge and the top road, so the only way they could get to me was by doing a round trip by Trooperslane. A filter lane or something where the road closure was would have helped, but they didn’t seem to think at all about business-owners or the impact on the local community.”
Although access between the station and Knockfergus Park has now been restored, there remains a need for clearer signage at the Shore Road and Station Road junction, according to Mr McKee.
“It’s only if you drive up the Station Road that you’ll see the signs saying that it’s business as usual for the shops,” he claimed.
“How are people going to know that we’re open unless they take the chance of going up Station Road?
“My fear is that once customers start getting used to going out of their way to go somewhere else, they’ll keep doing that.
“Trade is already down by about a third overall and 50 percent on a Saturday, which is usually the busiest day.
“I’ve been here 13 years and it’s hard enough to run a business without these sorts of things cropping up.
“I’ve been speaking to other shop owners and they’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. It would have been nice if they had kept us in the loop.”
The issue has been highlighted by East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs, who called on NI Water to increase the prominence of signage highlighting that access is available to local businesses.
“‘Road Closed’ seems to be the most prominent sign whilst secondary signs indicating access is available to local businesses are being missed by many,” Mr Beggs said.
“Having spoken to contractors I am aware that they will be taking a short Easter break and will be working during the Easter week holiday period. I have pressed NI Water that the work will be completed as soon as possible so that disruption would be kept to a minimum.”
In a statement, a spokesperson from NI Water confirmed that phase one of the scheme, between 170 Station Road and the Knockfergus Park junction, is now complete.
“Work is ongoing between Knockfergus Park and Glassillan Grove, with the final road closure section between Glassillan Grove and Knockleigh Drive currently scheduled for completion by April 24. The section between Knockleigh Drive and the A2 Shore Road will be completed during late April/early May; however this will be under two way traffic control allowing access in both directions.
“There is currently ‘business as usual’ signage at both ends of Station Road at the junctions with A2 Shore Road and Upper Road. However, NI Water will review the signage with our contractor and add additional ‘business as usual’ signage at both ends of road closure and monitor the situation as the scheme progresses.”