Bispham traders expressed their anger at the council for planning to shut key roads in the village on Valentine’s Day.
Both Red Bank Road and All Hallows Road will need to be shut on Monday, Thursday and Friday as the £500,000 work, which started last year, continues.
The council insisted it had “endeavoured” to minimise disruption and had communicated the planned work for “months”, but traders claimed they were left in the dark until the last minute.
Jenny Greenwood, who runs Flowers Galore in Red Bank Road, said: “Everything will be compromised. No-one will have easy access to the shops.
“We are facing losses into the thousands if we don’t make our footfall. It is one of our busiest days of the year and we ordered 1,000 red roses back in October.
“Because they are grown to order we can’t change the order now.”
Jenny, who has been running the florist for 15 years, said the council should have made other arrangements, and said the firm only got a letter explaining the closures on Tuesday.
She said: “Surely it would have been a better time to do all these closures during the school holidays. We feel we have been left totally in the dark about the council’s plans.
“We are now encouraging customers to make phone orders and we will be able to make deliveries. I have never felt so unprepared for something. It’s very difficult to know what else to do.”
Dominic Walker, who runs Bispham Salad Bowl, also in Red Bank Road, said he also only found out about the closures by letter on Tuesday.
He said: “If we had found out a lot sooner we would have been able to plan earlier. I have to order my produce and if I have got lots of strawberries for Valentine’s Day and nobody to sell them to it won’t be good.”
Julie Baxter and Anna Lockett both work in Bispham Market. They called the closures a “joke”.
Julie, who works at Home Bakery, said: “It’s ridiculous they haven’t told any of the businesses what their plans are. All we got was a letter. We all have deliveries due and we don’t know how we will manage them.
“To top it all off, they have put a two-hour restriction on the car park. I’m disabled and I shouldn’t have to be made to walk a far distance to get to work.”
Anna runs Lockett’s Hardware, and said is in favour of the work being done – but against how it has been planned. She said: “Once it has all finished it will look fabulous, but they haven’t made it easy for anyone.
“Another thing the council did was divert the buses around the village, but they haven’t put up any signs at the old bus stops letting people know. We have seen a few pensioners waiting there, and we have had to go out and tell them they’ll have to walk up the road to catch a bus. It’ll put people off coming into the village.”
The council sent a mobile information centre to the village on Wednesday, with staff on hand to answer questions from residents and traders alike, but Jenny said: “It appeared unannounced and all it’s doing is cluttering up the car park. We asked [the worker], ‘Where can we park when the closures happen?’. He said, ‘Wherever you want’, so we are none the wiser.”
When the roadworks were announced in October, the council said there would be no road closures during the “initial stages”, but there will be some later, with “further updates to follow”.
Roadworks and closures are affecting businesses around Red Bank Road in Bispham
Coun Fred Jackson, the council’s highways boss, said: “Bispham village is being upgraded to create a more modern and safe environment for pedestrians and shoppers.
“This work will deliver an improved village that can be enjoyed by everyone. It will enhance the area and should encourage more people to come and shop in Bispham which will benefit the local economy.
“The investment taking place of some £500,000 is significant and will bring many improvements, including repaved roads and footpaths, new bus shelters, benches, planting and so much more.
“Over the last few months we have used a variety of communication methods to inform people about the planned work, including information in the local press, social media and the council’s own website.
“Details have been released as the project has progressed. Direct consultation by councillors and the project team has also taken place with a mix of both residents and businesses.
“With a project of this size there can be some disruption but we have endeavoured to minimise it for both local people and businesses.
“Access to the main car park will be available throughout the works although there will be diversions in place.
“Our contractor will also have a contract manager available on site whilst these works are in operation to co-ordinate access requirements.”
Bispham village is being improved as part of Blackpool Council’s ‘local transport plan’, which aims to create a better experience for shoppers.
A number of upgrades will be made for pedestrians, including making it easier to cross the road by introducing raised crossing points, and making narrow points in the road.
The speed limit will be reduced from 30mph to 20mph, and all of the pavements and roads will be re-surfaced.
New bus shelters, benches, bins and bollards are planned, as well as new plants.