A Suffolk county councillor claims the diversions from the key B1113 road “should be scrapped”, after multiple businesses reported a drop in trade since major works started last month.
The B1113 Walsham Road through Finningham was shut on June 13 to allow for works by Essex and Suffolk Water, resulting in large traffic diversions for access to villages such as Bacton and Rickinghall.
But the diversions, which will be in place until the expected completion date of September 19, have been criticised for their placement and their explanation of the works, with businesses claiming people are not being properly informed of which roads are still open.
Cllr Andrew Stringer, from the Green Party, described the current situation as “chaos”.
He said: “These works are due to be here for 12 weeks. The resulting 20 mile diversion has already radically reduced trade to our rural community.
“During summer, our local businesses normally thrive.
“At the moment, trade seems to have dropped by at least 75 per cent. This is a direct result of the diversion signage.
“I personally believe the whole diversion should be scrapped.
“Our community rely on our businesses. If things carry on as they are we may lose them.”
Essex and Suffolk Water has responded to the complaints and is working with the county council to implement more detailed signs, but traders say footfall is still well below usual levels for this time of year.
Car dealership Jeffries of Bacton is one of the businesses affected by the diversions.
Owner Philip Jeffries, who is also part of Bacton Parish Council, told the Diss Express: “It’s a difficult situation. From our point of view, we need as many people to know that the road (in Bacton) is open.
“If you came off a side road and there was no sign saying businesses were open, you would just not come through.
“Give credit where credit is due - Essex and Suffolk Water have done their utmost to put more signs in place. They have been very helpful.
“But the difficulty is there was no further consultation with businesses. My criticism is, why are signs starting seven-and-a-half miles from where the works are being done?”