FURIOUS traders says they face a “double whammy” roadworks threat to their Christmas.
Shop keepers are already seeking talks with the council over a compensation package following claims that footfall and takings halved during the three-month closure of Bolton Road for vital repairs to the bridge at Atherton Station which re-opened last week.
But now highways chiefs are bringing forward a scheme to close another key road so that anti-skid surfacing and other traffic calming measures can be installed.
Originally the works were scheduled for early 2012. Now it is proposed to close North Road - one of the key routes taking traffic into Westhoughton - tomorrow for a week because of a spate of road accidents along the route.
Independent ward Coun Norman Bradbury says the timing for the works is appalling and is appealing for engineers to revert to the original scheduled start in the New Year.
Coun Bradbury said: “Just when the people of Atherton were getting used to getting their main road back and the traders were looking forward to their customers actually being able to get to them again, the council comes up with this.
“The council is saying that the accident rate has gone up along North Road during the last three months but that must be because of the amount of traffic that started using it as a diversion because Bolton Road was closed.
“I think at this point in time the town should be left to complete Christmas trading without any further disruption and the programme should be re-instated back to the New Year at the earliest.”
Head of highways Mark Tilley said that the North Road works followed on from the re-opening of Bolton Road.
He added: “They are of upmost importance and involve, among other things, improving the skid resistance of the road surface as there have been many loss of control incidents. Urgent safety work cannot wait until after Christmas because winter weather conditions may delay the scheme further.
“The road was not the official diversion during the Bolton Road bridge scheme but was heavily used. We must act now to ensure the safety of road users.”